Elijah Wood Learning To Kick Soccer Fans’ Butts

'Lord of the Rings' star in training for 'The Yank,' about English football hooligans.

LOS ANGELES — Move over, Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Van Damme, because the list of movie stars who have busted their butts to learn how to kick ass in a movie has just gotten a new name.

“I’ve been in fight training,” Elijah Wood revealed at this week’s premiere for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” the smart new drama in which he co-stars with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet (see “Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood Bask In ‘Eternal Sunshine’ At Premiere” ).

It’s all in preparation for the movie “The Yank,” which the “Lord of the Rings” star will be shooting for six weeks in England beginning later this month.

“It’s a movie about English football — soccer — and hooliganism,” he explained. “Fans of football there sort of form these factions and fight amongst [each other]. It’s a massive part of the culture. It’s all throughout Europe and a lot of it is prevalent in England. I play an American who gets mixed up in that world after coming over to visit his sister.”

“The Yank,” originally titled “Hooligans” (see “What Lies Ahead For The Hobbits?” ), was written by Dougie Brimson, a former serviceman, and is being directed by Lexi Alexander, whose short film “Johnny Flynton” earned an Oscar nomination in 2002. In addition to Wood, the cast includes Ross McCall (“Band of Brothers”) and “Nicholas Nickleby” star Charlie Hunnam, last seen in “Cold Mountain.”

“It’ll be pretty incredibly violent and realistic,” Wood promised with a grin. “It’ll be fun.”

“The Yank” (which could very well be called “Hooligans” again before it’s released) is due in theaters next year.

Wood has also completed work on the animated feature “Happy Feet,” with Robin Williams and Brittany Murphy, which should surface sometime in 2006.