Today Flying Lotus released the bugged-out, mechanical-arm-featuring, sci-fi meets body-horror clip for “Tiny Tortures,” a contemplative track off of this year’s Until The Quiet Comes. It’s a pretty fun video—clean concept, non-Instagramed “LOL ’80s” photography, sense of humor—but the real draw, the not-so-secret star, the reason this article has a certain famous actor from North’s name in the title is this: Elijah Wood. Yep, this guy:
Like many famous actors (Michelle Williams, Jon Hamm, Idris Elba), Elijah Wood has been known to pop up in a music video occasionally, adding a nice dose of “Hey, I know that person!” to any daily YouTube break.
But here’s the thing: Elijah Wood is king of this shit. He’d been in the music video game way before every indie band decided they needed to recruit a couple sorta-famous alt-comedians to goose the viewcount on their whimsical, Wes-Anderson-jacking mini-opuses. So, as a tribute to Elijah Wood’s surprising resilience in the music video industry, here’s a brief, annotated history of some of the furry-footed actor’s finest small-screen moments.
“Forever Your Girl” – Paula Abdul
The story of Elijah Wood’s rise to subtle music video domination begins as most do: with Paula Abdul, a small army of dancing children and a very sad pencil. This flashy, playful video (helmed by motherfucking David Fincher) is a masterpiece of bizarre, seemingly random juxtapositions. On one level, the clip is a gritty meta-video about the process of making a music video. On another level, it’s an exploration of popular dance styles, innovative camera filters and very cool jackets. On yet ANOTHER level, it’s one of the best early “kids-dress-up-like-adults-and-do-adult-things” videos. And on the FINAL MOST IMPORTANT level, it’s a genius way to deliver this image:
Look at that face. Look deep into those eyes. They just scream, “ONE DAY I WILL BE IN THE GOOD SON AND IT WILL BE AWESOME!”
“Ridiculous Thoughts” – The Cranberries
In 1994 the Cranberries, riding high off of the surprise success of emotionally potent MTV mega-hits like “Dreams” and “Linger,” released No Need To Argue, a confident, abrasive album that went on to sell over 7 million copies. In 1995 the group released an arty, circus-themed (?) video for the single “Ridiculous Thoughts,” and who did they call upon to sell the charged, morose pathos of the song? Yes, a young Elijah Wood.
Judging solely by his IMDB page, Mr. Wood was reaching a crossroads in his career around this time, starring in dopey kid crap like North and Flipper, but obviously hoping to do more serious work, like 1994’s The War, which had Roger Ebert calling Wood, “the most talented actor in his age group, in Hollywood history.” In a few years he’d go into full adult mode, solidified by his impressive turn in Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm, but you can see hints of that talent in this odd but enjoyable video, where Wood cradles a gramophone and looks sad. Like, really sad:
As YouTube user TeenageAngst1994 asks in the comment section below the video, “Why is Frodo cryin?” I don’t know, TeenageAngst1994. I just don’t know.
“Dance Floor” – Apples In Stereo
Wood’s enthusiasm for Elephant Six-affiliated power-pop group Apples In Stereo is no secret. After taking a break from music videos to do things like star in a movie about a giant asteroid (the very not-Armageddon Deep Impact) and play an essential role in one of the highest-grossing movie series of all time (the very DUH Lord Of The Rings), Wood returned to music videos by directing the simple, performance-based video for “Energy.” In 2010 Wood stepped in front of the camera for the band’s wonky, time-travel spoof “Dance Floor.” The video is a little more upbeat than Wood’s more depressing early work, but the Apples do let him look sad and bewildered for old time’s sake.
“Oh no! I never should’ve starred in Green Street Hooligans!”
“Full Of Regret” – Danko Jones
Wood’s gradual transition from chid-star to Frodo man-boy to cool adult actor was probably best solidified by his current starring role on Wilfred, but along the way there were some interesting hiccups. This video, part of a kinda-ridiculous, kinda-fun trilogy of clips for Canadian hard-rock group Danko Jones, is a cinematic and ambitious crime story that gets more and more confusing as different characters show up and important plot-points get thrown around amidst all the big riffs. It’s mostly notabel for this image:
Yep, that’s Elijah Wood smoking a cigarette, wearing sunglasses and hoisting a shotgun over his shoulder while walking on a rooftop. How did we get from this:
Something tells me these two images represent something very mind-blowing and profound, but I’m not really sure what it is, so let’s just move onto the Beastie Boys video.
“Fight For Your Right (Revisited)” – Beastie Boys
Though this video kinda represents the nadir of the whole “throw-a-million-celebrities-into-a-video-and-see-what-sticks” approach to video-craftsmanship, it also has the benefit of being really funny, instantly iconic and oddly poignant. So, yeah, it’s great. Also, it gave us this image of Elijah Wood chugging beer while he walks down the sidewalk:
We salute you Elijah Wood. Keep making weird shit. The internet needs you.