Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood is heading back to New Zealand, but he won’t be stopping by the Shire this time! According to Variety, Wood has been tapped to reunite with Come to Daddy director Ant Timpson for the leading role in the filmmaker’s first expedition into the adventure-comedy genre. The project, which also reconnects Timpson and Wood with Come to Daddy‘s production team, is titled Bookworm.
Reportedly, this family adventure is named after a script penned by writer-director David Mamet which later became the 1997 action drama The Edge. The film, starring Academy Award-winner Anthony Hopkins, is a wilderness adventure that was also set against the breathtaking New Zealand countryside, and seemed to provide both Timpson and Bookworm screenwriter Toby Harvard with inspiration. In the screenplay 12-year-old Mildred’s life is upended following the hospitalization of her mother.
With no one else to care for her, Mildred’s “American magician father, Strawn Wise (Wood),” is tasked with caring for his bookish pre-teen daughter. In an attempt to keep her entertained — and her mind off her ailing mother — Strawn plans a camping trip into the New Zealand wilderness. Timpson likens the project to “…the escapist 70s cinema we grew up with, non-pandering cinema where adults and kids enjoyed all the onscreen shenanigans equally.” The script takes a turn into whimsy when the pair embark on a quest to discover the “mythological beast known as the Canterbury Panther,” though Mildred bears only camping knowledge, sans experience, and Strawn is less accustomed to the Southern Alps than the Las Vegas Strip.
David Garrett, the CEO of the distribution company handling Bookworm, praises the script and Harvard‘s characters, saying:
“We just love this script, which is so reminiscent of the best of New Zealand cinema – with its smart, dry wit and heartfelt raw emotional energy – all set against a backdrop of the most beautiful landscapes imaginable. And the father-daughter relationship is so funny and engaging, it is impossible not to love them both, for all their faults.”
Fans more than likely associate Wood with his breakout as Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson‘s Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, another fantasy adventure filmed across the beautiful New Zealand landscape. The actor also had a handful of family film jobs as a child, including Flipper and his title role in The Adventures of Huck Finn. Now, after his collaboration with Bookworm director Timpson on the 2019 horror comedy Come to Daddy, we’ll get to see Wood swap the starry-eyed kid role for that of the father and his “foibles,” as Timpson said, adding, “Toby and I are always obsessed by fathers…especially the traits that we’re afraid of having or displaying.” Sounds like the hunt for the Canterbury Panther will see Mildred and Strawn discovering more than mythical creatures – maybe a happy, healthy dad-daughter relationship, too?
Bookworm is in pre-production and is said to begin filming on location in New Zealand in March and April 2023.