Actor Elijah Wood claims that Hollywood’s entertainment industry is rife with sexual abuse of young boys and girls — and that senior figures within it have been protecting pedophiles for decades.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, the Lord of the Rings star — who began acting in Hollywood at age nine — claimed that “organized” sexual abuse of children has taken place in the entertainment industry and compared the situation to that of notorious British pedophile Jimmy Savile.
“You all grew up with Savile — Jesus, it must have been devastating,” Wood, 35, told the Times, referring to the late BBC DJ who allegedly sexually abused more than 50 young boys and girls in the 1970s and 80s.
“There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind,” Wood added. “There is a darkness in the underbelly — if you can imagine it, it’s probably happened.”
Wood got his start at a young age in Hollywood with a breakout role as little Michael Kaye in the Barry Levinson-directed 1990 film Avalon. He went on to act throughout his childhood with roles in 90s movies Paradise, Radio Flyer and Flipper.
But Wood said he was spared the abuse that many other young actors his age were subjected to because his mother did not allow him to go to industry parties, where Hollywood power players regularly “preyed upon” children.
“If you’re innocent you have very little knowledge of the world and you want to succeed,” the actor told the Times. “People with parasitic interests will see you as their prey.”
The subject of rampant child sex abuse in Hollywood gained new attention last year following the release of the documentary An Open Secret. The film — directed by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Amy Berg — features interview with former child star sex abuse victims including Corey Feldman and Todd Bridges.
The film was, perhaps unsurprisingly, not without controversy — it reportedly had to be re-cut after a man’s sexual assault accusations against X-Men director Bryan Singer were subsequently dropped in court. However, the film also examines allegations made against other high-level Hollywood executives including Marty Weiss, Michael Harrah and child talent manager Bob Villard, who represented a young Leonardo DiCaprio before pleading no contest to felony charges of committing a lewd act on a child in 2005.
In his interview with the Times, Wood said that young actors and actresses who are victims of sex abuse are often stifled, because they “can’t speak as loudly as people in power.”
“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.”
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum