Pop quiz, hotshot. We have your wife and you’re about to start playing Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto from a stage in front of hundreds of people. You play one false note — just one — and you can kiss her goodbye. What do you do? What. Do. You. Do.
That’s a tired overdramatization of how the Hollywood Reporter characterized the recently announced film, Grand Piano, which will star Elijah Wood as an emotionally fragile pianist returning to the concert hall for the first time after a five-year layoff, only to discover a violent threat scribbled on his sheet music. “Speed at a piano,” blared the trade.
Well, sort of. Wood chuckled when he heard that description of the project, to be directed by Spanish filmmaker Eugenia Mira and filmed mostly in the director’s native country later this summer. “We always need some kind of tagline for a point of reference, don’t we?” he said from the set of the second season of Wilfred. “It’s extremely Hitchcockian. It’s essentially a heist over the course of a classical piano performance in a concert hall. The pianist that I play is essentially being held hostage and being told to play and not to miss a note, or he’ll be shot or his wife will be shot. The script is exhilarating. I really never read anything quite like it. It’s incredibly suspenseful in a really classical way.”
Most all the action takes place during the concert performance, so Wood is prepping himself for a lot of time seated at the piano. “I used to play when I was younger,” said the Lord of the Rings star. “My character is supposed to be a genius, so it is a little bit daunting and I think we have some work ahead of us to make sure that it comes across.”
Speaking of Lord of the Rings, the actor who plays the beloved hobbit Frodo addressed the mixed reception that footage of The Hobbit received last week at CinemaCon, where some members of the audience complained about the glossy “TV soap opera” feel that is related to Peter Jackson’s decision to film his prequels at 48 frames a second, twice the industry standard. “What people saw, from what I understand, is an ungraded piece of footage, and I doubt if there was any film grain added. I think the coloring was probably off. It probably was still in its infancy in regards to actually being able to tell what it’s really going to be like. And I think it will take a period of adjustment. We’re not used to seeing a lack of motion blur,” said Wood. “But I think it could be exhilarating and fascinating. It’s interesting as an experiment. Look, I think people will get to see the movie in regular 24 and have a completely unhindered experience that won’t be challenging. But I think it’s also intriguing to play with technology and there are many that think it’s sort of a trailblazing move forward. I mean, I have yet to really see it, so it’s difficult for me to comment. But it will be interesting to see once it’s finally put together. It could be incredible, and it could also point us to the point where we feel like that’s not a place that we have to take cinema. It’s unknown territory, and I think that’s fascinating.”