HE CAUSED a stir earlier this week when he appeared to back Scottish independence, telling Scots to “go for it”.
But Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood has now said that he misunderstood the question he was asked while he was promoting his new film in Edinburgh.
Speaking to The Scotsman, the 33-year-old actor confessed he thought he was being quizzed about independent cinema in Scotland – rather than his views on September’s referendum.
Wood is currently attending the Edinburgh International Film Festival to promote Set Fire to the Stars, a semi-biographical drama based on the life of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
The star, best known for playing Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, hit the headlines at the start of the week when, during the red carpet for the film’s premiere, he was asked what he thought about the Scottish independence debate.
His reply was interpreted as: “The independence of Scotland? F****n’ go for it, man!”
But yesterday, when the actor was asked about his comment, the star laughed ruefully before replying: “You know, in truth, I thought they were talking about independent cinema. I mean, it’s a film festival.”
As with any major celebrity voicing an opinion on the independence debate, his comments caused a sensation on social media, with some Yes campaigners claiming the actor as one of their own. Tweets proclaimed “Frodo backs Scottish independence!” and “Frodo for Freedom!”, while his comment was repeated dozens of times.
His words even generated online Yes posters: one used an image of Wood in the role of Frodo with his own quote edited to read “Independence for Scotland? Go for it!”
However, the star’s words did not generate either the anger or abuse that US president Barack Obama’s or author JK Rowling’s support for the Union did, though one weary poster commented: “Sigh… here we go again with celebrity endorsement. I don’t care if Elijah Wood ‘backs independence’.”
The Scotsman’s film critic Alistair Harkness expressed sympathy for Wood’s predicament: “I can sympathise with him being bombarded with questions that are really not anything to do with him.
“Some people have strong opinions on these things, but you can’t expect every movie star or actor who comes into town to know about them.”
He said the actor could be forgiven for misunderstanding the question. “I can totally understand Elijah Wood being at a film festival, thinking that he’s being asked about independent film, which he’s a big supporter of, and which is why he was quite forthright in his comments.
“It’s fine to ask people who have expressed an opinion already and who seem politically engaged in that way, but there’s nothing in Elijah Wood’s back catalogue that would suggest he’d know about the independence debate. It’s an odd thing to ask on a red carpet.”
In between interviews, Wood – who has visited Scotland before and said how much he loves Edinburgh and Glasgow – has spent the past week enjoying the city’s hospitality.
On Wednesday he attended the Scottish Government’s reception hosted by culture and external affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP at Edinburgh Castle.
According to one onlooker, the star was said to have been “blown away” by the pipers at the Beating of Retreat, saying it was “the most amazing Amazing Grace I’ve heard” before handing over the traditional quaich of whisky to the Pipe Major, and posing for photos with fans.
Set in the 1950s, the Set Fire to the Stars tells of Dylan Thomas’s later years. Wood is an aspiring poet who admires Thomas, played by Celyn Jones, and brings him out to the United States, only to discover he is a drink-fuelled hellraiser.