During an interview with the Sunday Times in the U.K., actor Elijah Wood called out the Hollywood film industry for its apparent neglect to address child abuse. Wood, a former child actor said he was sheltered from possible harm by his mother, but other child actors weren’t so lucky.
“There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind,” Wood said. “There is a darkness in the underbelly. If you can imagine it, it’s probably happened.”
Child Abuse Not New in the Industry
He told the Sunday Times that Hollywood’s situation is similar to the controversy that surrounded U.K. DJ Jimmy Savile. Savile, a popular television host and DJ in the U.K., allegedly sexually abused boys and girls for decades. While no charges were ever filed against Savile, many allegations surfaced after his death in 2011, and the seriousness of his crimes became apparent. Savile hid acts of sexual abuse behind charity work and his fame, and it was only after his death that many of his victims came forward to speak about it.
“You all grew up with Savile, Jesus, it must have been devastating,” he told the Sunday Times.
Silence in Hollywood
Wood explained that while some children in the business have tried to speak out about the abuse, they’re more often than not silenced, and those in the Hollywood film business choose not to acknowledge the existence of sexual abuse in the industry.
“That’s the tragedy of attempting to reveal what is happening to innocent people,” he said. “They can be squashed but their lives have been irreparably damaged.”
Outcry over the apparent epidemic of child abuse in the film industry has surfaced quite frequently over the past few years. In 2012, former child actor Corey Feldman, who appeared in films such as Gremlins and The Lost Boys, told a British tabloid that older men in the industry had been leeching around like vultures. Feldman later suffered from mental problems, alcoholism and drug abuse. Wood said child abuse is as much an issue today as it was when he was a child actor. The star, now 35, was only 8 when he began appearing in movies. He said he is positive there is still a disparity going on in Hollywood that silences young children from speaking out against the system.
“From my reading and research, I’ve been led down dark paths to realize that these things probably are still happening,” he said. “If you’re innocent you have very little knowledge of the world and you want to succeed. People with parasitic interests will see you as their prey.”
Standing up Against the System
Wood, best known for his role as Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has been acting since he was very young. As a child he starred in movies such as The War and North. He credits his mom as being one of the main persons in his life to help shelter him from the abuse many others have endured. A strong support system, usually provided by family, is one of the main factors in being protected from abuse and getting the help necessary to rains awareness about the problem.
“I never went to parties where that kind of thing was going on. This bizarre industry presents so many paths to temptation,” Wood said. “If you don’t have some kind of foundation, typically from family, then it will be difficult to deal with.”
He later added that his mom was “far more concerned with raising me to be a good human than facilitating my career.”