Elijah Wood, Vin Diesel Return to Fantasy in ‘The Last Witch Hunter’

Action-adventure movie stars Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood have teamed up in the fantasy movie, The Last Witch Hunter, opening in theaters this weekend. Though they look rather mismatched in our reality (Diesel stands at about 6′ tall, Wood at 5’6″), they look to be equally-powerful fantasy characters in their first movie together. The Last Witch Hunter marks a return to the fantasy genre that Diesel and Wood are well-known for.

In the realm of movies, Elijah Wood established himself as a fantasy genre icon portraying Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. For about five years, from 1999 to 2004, Wood was in the role of Frodo while principal and secondary filming took place. Beyond The Lord of the Rings, Elijah has been cast in many other fantasy roles, including movies, short films, and video games.

Elijah’s last fantasy character role was in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 2012, in which he had a cameo role as Frodo. Over the past three years since then, Wood has been seeing to the daily operation and growth of his horror genre-focused multimedia production company, Spectrevision, while also acting in a fair amount of non-fantasy indie roles.

In a recent interview with ScreenRant, Elijah geekily expressed his admiration for fantasy movies and video games, and what it was like returning to the big-budget action movie scene courtesy of The Last Witch Hunter.

“It’s fun,” Wood said. “It’s certainly fun to work on that scale. When you’ve got the kind of budget that can build you giant sets. There’s something that makes you regress to a child a little bit. Placing yourself into the fantastical realm with all of this incredible detail around you is really fun.”

Wood expressed similar sentiments in a recent amNewYork article. Wood said he was surprised with the level of detail that went into The Last Witch Hunter mythology and backstory, which is heavily based in fantasy. Wood was also fascinated with the layers of his character, Dolan 37th, and that combined to make the whole package more interesting to him.

“Particularly because in this day and age, more often than not, there aren’t original concepts being made or invested in at this budget level, so it was sort of refreshing to read something that was going to be done on a large-scale but it wasn’t based on a pre-existing novel or wasn’t a reboot or a sequel. It was its own thing.”

Wood, Diesel, Leslie, 'The Last Witch Hunter'

Much like Elijah Wood has publicly waxed eloquent about the positive impact video games had in his younger years, Vin Diesel has likewise never been hesitant or ashamed about being an avid D&D player. In a 2006 episode of AMC’s Sunday Morning Shootout, Diesel talks passionately about what D&D has meant to him, and how he feels it was “a training ground for our imaginations.” Fast and furious forward to earlier this week to a video posted on Geek & Sundry showing Vin Diesel playing D&D with Geek & Sundry and Nerdist celebrities.

Den of Geek recently published an interview with Vin Diesel, in which he tells how he channeled his D&D enthusiasm directly into Kaulder, his witch hunter character in The Last Witch Hunter. Diesel played a witch hunter named Melkor in his D&D group, before witch hunters were official characters. About five years ago, Vin Diesel had a meeting with The Last Witch Hunter writer Cory Goodman, also a D&D player.

“A few months after that meeting, I got this script,” Vin Diesel said. “And the interesting thing is, it was about a witch hunter. I thought, “Wow, that’s surreal. Imagine doing a $100m movie based around a character I played in a tabletop game!”

Vin Diesel’s fantasy geek cred doesn’t just come from D&D. In an i09 article published last week, Vin Diesel explains how J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion has influenced him, and helped shape his portrayal of an immortal character in The Last Witch Hunter.

“Producing a film about immortality, I’m gonna go to previous works that have dealt with immortality, and done it right,” said Vin Diesel. “The Silmarillion was probably one of the first fantasy pieces that played with immortality that wasn’t straight up deity mythology. As an author, he’s playing with immortality in this really cool way.”

In The Last Witch Hunter, Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood join forces with Rose Leslie, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine to defeat the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) before she can fully unleash the Black Death on mankind and destroy the human race once and for all.

[Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]