My LA: Elijah Wood On Venice, Food Trucks And Vinyl
Who: Elijah Wood, Iowa-born actor and longtime hobbit of “Lord of the Rings,” part-time DJ and proprietor of record label Simian Records, self-billed "foodie" who has likely earned the title of "Most Loyal Customer" at GTA (Gjelina Take Away) already; upon introduction ("Hi, I'm Elijah"), he enunciates the "J" just like his mother intended -- a hard "J."
Years in LA: 23
Current Neighborhood: Venice
Current Gig: Wood stars in his first-ever comedy and television show, “Wilfred,” the Aussie redux premiering June 23 on FX at 10pm, wherein he plays a troubled young man who befriends a man in a dog suit (everyone else thinks he's full canine, however). Here and there, Wood escapes to Middle Earth to film "The Hobbit," Peter Jackson's forthcoming prequel to "Lord of the Rings."
“Wilfred” brings you back to LA for work. How does it feel?
We shot in and around Venice which was kind of incredible. I haven't made a film or anything else for that matter in Los Angeles in over 10 years. So, to be working in LA -- period -- was a luxury. But for most of the locations to be around my neighborhood was kind of incredible.
You Tweeted about the Kogi BBQ Truck swinging by to provide nourishment for the cast and crew.
Yes, we had Kogi come by. A lot of trucks were coming by; different people on the show were paying for trucks as a celebration for ending the show. The cast bought the Kogi truck. Oh, and what's that creamery, that really good ice cream truck … Lake Street Creamery!
Do you like food trucks?
I love food trucks. There was a backlash after things got so intense in Los Angeles with how many started to crop up everywhere. But that's to be expected. Just because it's out of a food truck doesn't mean it's going to be a culinary explosion in your mouth. What I love about the food trucks more than anything is that they seem to usher in this excitement around food in LA. And I think that's sustained.
What was your last sit-down "culinary explosion in your mouth"?
It may have been Olio Pizzeria. I had a pepperoni, and they use imported Italian pepperoni. It's interesting: Three Neapolitan-style pizza places have opened up within a month or two of each other. That one; Sotto on Pico, which is excellent. They have a guanciale pizza that kills. And then there's Mother Dough on Hollywood and Hillhurst, and that's extraordinary.
What do you hate most about LA?
I think it's the normal gripes, isn't it? The fact that traffic seems to exist at all hours of the day now as opposed to certain times. It's no longer exclusive to rush hour.
What do you love most about LA?
LA is a fascinating city. I feel like LA's sense of itself is becoming more clear; I feel like people are rediscovering what LA is now. I don't know if it's because I'm more conscious of it, but I feel like people are more conscious of the city. Partially maybe due to the fact that Downtown is changing. There are landscapes within Los Angeles that are now destinations, and I think people are discovering those places.
Sometimes, you're a DJ (Wood recently guest-DJed "School Night," the popular Monday night get-down at Bardot in Hollywood). If hired, what can you guarantee?
I would guarantee a healthy variety of music. I rarely play one genre or stick to one kind of sound. I tend to try and weave a lot of different sounds and eras in at the same time. Mainly, because my music taste is so varied. And it's also just fun to play as wide of variety of music as possible.
What was the last thing you did that made you go, "Damn, I love LA"?
Going to see the Flaming Lips at Hollywood Forever. I've never been to Hollywood Forever before. I don't know why it's taken me so long. Part of it is a Westside thing; you get stuck on the Westside. That’s the danger of Venice. So, when I went, it felt like being at a really mellow, private music festival with picnics and a manageable amount of people. It's pretty magical and right in the middle of Hollywood. It feels like you're somewhere else.
What is a little-known gem of LA that you frequent?
There are a couple of record stores that I think are little-known that I recently found. There's a place on West Adams near Fairfax called Records LA. It's open on Thursday through Saturday. They specialize in soul and funk. Vinyl. It's awesome. The first time I walked into the store, I was handed a beer upon entry -- pretty fantastic. Modelo. In a can. There's a place in Highland Park called Wombleton that is very similar to Records LA but like the white equivalent, so all the stuff they have at Wombleton is rock, pysch-rock, folk -- rare records.
That's a two-part answer. I moved to LA when I was very young. So, I came out here with my family, partially to pursue acting. And I suppose I stayed in LA in part due to the fact that I work here. But, there's no other place like Los Angeles. It's a city that has a deep sense of identity but also an ever-changing one and it has a sense of isolation. … It's really one of those cities where you need a group of friends, and you create a sense of community. And that is your version of LA.
(Interview edited for length)