Interview: Elijah Wood Talks No Man of God, Psychonauts 2, and Favorite Kanye Albums

By | August 27, 2021

The Ted Bundy drama No Man of God is out now in theaters and VOD. Directed by Amber Sealey, the film stars Elijah Wood as FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier and Luke Kirby as the notorious serial killer.

“In 1980, Ted Bundy was sentenced to death by electrocution. In the years that followed, he agreed to disclose the details of his crimes, but only to one man,” says the official synopsis. “During the early days of the agency’s criminal profiling unit, FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier met with the incarcerated Ted Bundy in the hopes of understanding the psychology of the serial killer and providing closure for the victim’s families. As Hagmaier delves into Bundy’s dark and twisted mind, a strange and complicated relationship develops that neither man expected.”

RELATED: Interview: No Man of God Director Amber Sealey Discusses Ted Bundy Drama

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with No Man of God star Elijah Wood, who also served as a producer, about what interested him in the role, the relationship between Bundy and Hagmaier, and his thoughts on Kanye West as Donda looms.

Tyler Treese: I loved No Man of God. I thought the performances of yourself and Luke Kirby were so incredible. The film is interesting because a lot of it is just you two talking, but it’s so captivating and Amber was able to shoot it in such unique ways. How intriguing was this film from a pure acting standpoint to know that so much rode on both of your performances?

Elijah Wood: [Laughs] Yeah, right. No pressure. Jeez. Well look, I think that was one of the more enticing aspects of it from an acting standpoint is that it is very much a two-hander. It’s so uniquely structured in that it is a series of these conversations that these two men have over the course of four years. That that sort of pressure, it was exciting. The challenge was exciting to imbue those scenes with, with enough dynamics to be continually interesting, and also thought-provoking, and potentially disturbing and scary at times. It does hinge on us as actors to bring that to life.

I have to say that my job was made much easier working with Luke Kirby. He is so incredible and brought to life in such a haunting and human and interesting and fascinating way. Just getting to go to work every day with him, it was a blast. Like I said, he made my job easier, but yeah, it was that that sort of structure to the film was partially why it was so exciting to get this movie made.

There are endless documentaries and films depicting the story of, of Ted Bundy from a variety of angles, but it felt like this particular part of his story hadn’t been told before. That was really interesting. I knew a fair amount about Ted Bundy prior to reading the script, but I didn’t know about his relationship to Bill Hagmaier and the fact that he considered Bill Hagmaier his best friend prior to his death and that he willed his earthly possessions to Bill before he died. There was something so significant about that relationship to him, and that Bill was able to, in allowing himself and Ted to get close to him, to get some closure for some of those families, to get him to admit to things that he had done, that he had been very, very shaky about giving information away.

No Man of God Elijah Wood interview

How was it getting to talk to the real Bill Hagmaier and just learning from his experiences?

Well, it was incredible to speak with them. The unfortunate aspect of shooting our movie in September of last year is that it was shot fully COVID compliance. I wasn’t able to meet him in person. I still haven’t met him in person yet. We had fully planned on going back east and spending real time with him, which I would have loved to have done, but the phone would suffice. He was an incredible asset to myself, and to Luke as well, and so much to Amber. Amber would email him about so many specific details and sometimes it’s just like the color of his shoes and he was so forthcoming with information to really help us paint a very accurate picture of what transpired between the two of them.

Speaking of that, I love that you mentioned the word “human,” as especially on Ted’s side, we don’t really see that often. I’d love to just get your thoughts on that relationship between Bill and Ted. It’s odd to say a friendship, but there was some kind of bond there.

Yeah. It’s a funny one. They both would have very different interpretations as to what transpired and what really exists between the two of them. Bill would, would not consider his relationship to Ted a friendship. Ted did. My interpretation is that Ted felt seen. Ted, by and large with law enforcement, was probably judged with a fair amount of ego, various people who were trying to get something out of him, and probably in many cases, profit off of him or write a book about him later. Like he really felt that sort of transactional relationship with so many of those people and therefore lacked any faith and trust in them. Bill treated him like a human being. He didn’t come in with any judgments. He, he really sort of allowed him to be who he was, and I think in that sense, he felt really seen and understood.

He interpreted that as friendship. I think for Bill, he was doing his job. He was trying to get as much information out of him as possible. Certainly as it pertains to the families of the victims who didn’t know where the remains of their daughters were. That was a major objective of his beyond just gathering information on how his brain worked and why he did what he did. But I think in that, over the course of four years, sitting down with someone multiple times, and for hours and hours at a time, I think something does happen. There is an exchange from one human being to another, regardless of the fact that that one of those people is capable of unspeakable acts. There still will eventually be some common ground. There will be something that you relate to together. I think that’s where that would have been something that probably Bill would have taken away from that. That doesn’t resemble friendship, but there was a genuine human human exchange, you know?

I have to ask, I saw you tweeting about Yeezus earlier this month and Kanye is my favorite artist. So I wanted to get your top three Kanye albums real quick.

Oh. I never get that question. My favorite is Yeezus, and then I would go Dark Twisted Fantasy and then maybe 808s.

Wow. We have the same three favorites. That’s amazing. Awesome.

[Laughs] I’m very, very curious about Donda. The listening party last night, I didn’t get a chance to watch it, but there’s a bunch of new material. Jay-Z’s verse has been removed.

Yeah. For DaBaby.

Yeah. I’m very curious about what’s happening, but it looked like an incredible theatrical spectacle. I mean, he lit himself on fire, that the recreation of his childhood home. I mean, he is an incredible artist. There’s no doubt about it. There is no one like him doing what he does at his level. I read that he’s already made $12 million on a record that he hasn’t even released yet. Also just creating this sort of almost performance art around the creation of a record is just fascinating and kind of incredible. I’m curious.

Nick Johnsmith Elijah Wood interview

Then my last question here, this is such an exciting week. Psychonauts 2 just came out and your role, Nick Johnsmith, there’s so much depth that, and that character went in so many directions I didn’t expect. Just how exciting was it to work with Tim Schafer again, and just have such a cool character?

It is infinitely enjoyable to get to work with Tim and Khris who directs the voiceover sessions, Khris Brown. She’s amazing. It was kind of a dream come true for me getting to work with Tim on Broken Age. I grew up playing his games. You know, those Lucasarts games were really impactful in my childhood. Never did I think that I would get to read his dialogue and work with him and then continue to be able to work with him on other projects. So, it’s still a dream. I really hope that I get to work with him on something else. It’s just so much fun. I can’t wait to play it. I recorded the voice for that so long ago. I’ve actually forgotten so much about the character and what happened. So I just can’t wait to play the game. I’m really excited.

Thank you so much for your time today, and I hope you keep on working on games. I love Transference. I thought that was such a powerful piece of art.

Oh, dude. Thanks so much. I’m glad you played it. That’s awesome. I love to hear that.