With the first of the two Peter Jackson-directed adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" due out at the end of this year, many are turning their attention back to the wildly popular "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy and its stars. The trilogy helped turn some of its main players into the decade's most sought-after stars, including Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen, and of course Elijah Wood who portrayed the young hero, Frodo Baggins. While it is easy to remember Wood's performance as Frodo, the actor, 31, has had a varied career that has proven he can do much more than play a hobbit.

Elijah Wood was born on January 28, 1981 and grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A boisterous, theatrical child from birth, Wood discovered his love for acting by performing in school plays and choirs. By the time their son was eight, Wood's parents had realized that their son had talent beyond his years and moved the family to Los Angeles.

Wood's big break came in a role in Paula Abdul's music video for "Forever Your Girl," which quickly got him noticed byHollywood. After making his big-screen debut in "Back to the Future Part II," he was cast in a series of dramas, including roles in 1990's multiple-Academy Award-nominated "Avalon," and "Paradise" a year later, as the adopted son of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson.

These movies allowed Wood to show off more ability than the average child actor, and landed him a leading role in 1994's "The War," in which he played the son of a Vietnam War veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. His performance received widespread critical acclaim and led Roger Ebert to call him "the most talented actor, in his age group, in Hollywood history."

Wood continued to take on roles in some of the best-remembered movies of the 1990s, including the family film "Flipper" as the young friend of a dolphin and "Deep Impact," as a high school student who discovers a catastrophic meteor bound for earth. He was nominated multiple times in the 1990s for Young Artist awards. As he approached the end of his teen years, Wood was regarded as one of the best young actors of the decade.

The 2001 release of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" finally turned 20-year-old Wood into a star. He was front-and-center in the epic fantasy as the small hobbit Frodo Baggins who must destroy the cursed One Ring to save his world. "Fellowship" was extremely well-received by critics and audiences alike, and has since become one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. Two more films in the series, "The Two Towers" and "Return of the King," followed in 2002 and 2003 respectively. Both were similarly popular and well-reviewed, with "Return of the King" winning all 11 of the Academy Awards it was nominated for. The series turned Wood into both a teen idol and a respected adult actor in his own right.

Wood chose to appear in mostly risk-taking dramas after "Lord of the Rings" ended. He played a scheming lab technician in the quirky comedy-drama "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," and played a villain for the first time in "Sin City." His first post-"Lord of the Rings" leading role was in the independent film "Everything is Illuminated," where he was again praised for his skillful performance.

Wood has proved himself as an actor unafraid to take on unconventional roles, providing his voice for the animated films "Happy Feet" and "9." He also lent his voice to a number of popular video games, including "The Legend of Spyro" series and "God of War III." Most recently, he has been starring in the unconventional sitcom "Wilfred" as a depressed lawyer who sees his neighbor's dog as a human.

Wood is private about his personal life, but he is known to be very close to his family and good-natured about his work. A huge music fan, Wood started his own record label, Simian Records, in 2006. The label is home to indie rock band The Apples in Stereo and punk act Heloise and the Savoir Faire. Wood is also actively involved in work for AIDS charities and disaster relief in Guatemala.

Wood's fans can look forward to his return to the big screen over the next two years. He will reprise his role as Frodo Baggins in the two upcoming "The Hobbit" adaptations, and is also slated to appear in "Grand Piano" alongside John Cusack and "Black Wings Has My Angel" with Tom Hiddleston and Anna Paquin. The young actor celebrated his 30th birthday in 2011, and has already played a wider variety of roles than many actors do in a lifetime.

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