See Elijah Wood's Adorable, First Ever Talk Show Interview

The former child star has been acting onscreen for more than 30 years.

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His major claim to fame may be The Lord of the Rings films, but Elijah Wood basically grew up on screen long before he played Frodo Baggins. And on Jan. 28, the former child star turned the big 4-0. If you're of his generation too, then you probably grew up with him, from movies like North and Flipper to his comedy series Wilfred and the aforementioned Middle Earth films. To mark this milestone birthday, we're going back 30 years and taking a look at the up-and-coming child actor's first ever TV interview. Read on for some serious nostalgia, and for more Hollywood kids all grown up, here are The Biggest Child Actors Ever, Then and Now.

Elijah Wood's career kicked off in the late '80s.

Elijah Wood in Paula Abdul's "Forever Your Girl" video
Paula Abdul/YouTube

Wood's first credit is thanks to acclaimed director David Fincher—but not in one of his mind-bending films. Along with several other kid actors, the future star appeared in the 1989 music videos for Paula Abdul's "Forever Your Girl" (above) and "Straight Up," both helmed by the Gone Girl director. In the same year, Wood made his feature film debut playing "Video Game Boy" in Back to the Future II." For more throwbacks, check out The Biggest '90s TV Teen Idols, Then and Now.

And his big break soon followed.

Elijah Wood in Child in the Night
CBS

In 1990, Wood scored a much more substantial role in the TV movie Child in the Night, playing a nine-year-old boy who is the only witness to the murder of his father. Entertainment Tonight visited the set and interviewed the future star, who was the same age as his character. You can find some grainy copies of the TV movie on YouTube, and Wood's first national TV interview survives on ET's channel. Little did anyone know back in 1990 that the little guy would end up acting in some of the biggest movies ever made. For more nostalgia sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

In his first interview, Wood explained what he loved most about acting.

Elijah Wood 1990 Entertainment Tonight interview
Entertainment Tonight/YouTube

He might have different answers now, but when Wood was still looking forward to his 10th birthday, he told ET that his "favorite part of making a movie would probably be, you know, like, special effects, that's really fun." He also said that he enjoyed acting in general "'cause you can be anyone you want, but first you gotta audition."

As for the most difficult part of the job? "Probably memorizing," the pint-sized actor said. "Something you gotta do is concentrate, you gotta listen. You gotta listen a lot, you gotta listen to the director."

It's a lot to ask of a third grader! But Wood made it clear that the satisfaction of a job well done was worth it.

"And then you feel proud of yourself if you do that stuff," he explained. "They say compliments about you and you're proud."

You can watch all the highlights from his interview here:

For more from this iconic decade in pop culture, check out The Scariest Movies '90s Kids Can't Forget.

31 years ago, he wasn't totally committed to a career in movies yet.

Elijah Wood in 2020
Tsuni-USA/Shutterstock

"I might study the sea and study sharks or something like that," Wood said when asked what he wanted to do when he grew up. "Or I might just stay in this because I can get a good career doing this. It's gonna be good."

Well, apologies to the field of marine biology, because Wood did, indeed, stay in show business. Higher-profile roles in The Adventures of Huck Finn and The Good Son (co-starring Macaulay Culkin, who turned 40 in 2020) came through a few years later, and that seemed to be that. Most recently Wood voiced characters in the animated series Star Wars Resistance and Summer Camp Island, and he has two movies, L.A. Rush and No Man of God in post-production. So the former kid star's childhood predictions were right: he did get a pretty good career doing this, with plenty more still to come. For more updates on his '90s peers, check out This Is What All the "Home Alone" Kids Look Like Now.

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