Elijah Wood Goes Animated For Post-Apocalyptic Animated Epic, ‘9’

He’s been a penguin with happy feet, and now Elijah Wood’s next animated adventure is going to make him a ragdoll.

“I’m actually just finishing work on an animated film called ’9,’” Wood told us when we caught up with him at Alicia Keys’ Black Ball. “It’s based on a short film Shane Acker did a number of years ago. It’s a beautiful short.”

Tim Burton is producing the full-length feature from Acker, one of the WETA Digital animators on “Return of the King,” and Crispin Glover, Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Martin Landau, and Christopher Plummer are among the other voice actors. Wood plays 9, one of nine mechanized rag dolls, “who kind of have the soul of humanity in them,” he said. “It’s basically about a post-apocalyptic world where machines created by man have destroyed mankind, and these nine ragdolls go about trying to find out what has happened and what these machines are about.”

In the worldless short film version, two of the ragdolls — 9 and 5 — are scavenging for items when they encounter and must fight one of the ramshackle machine monsters, whose head is a skull, limbs are metal, and torso made out of the burlap hide of ragdolls it’s already killed.

The feature-length version will have more characters, as developed by “Corpse Bride” writer Pamela Pettler, and more beasts, to enrich the world that 9 took place in, so that you can see how this world came to be, how the ragdolls fit in, what the beasts are that hunt them, and what happened to the humans. “It’s so uplifting!” Wood laughed.

The ten-and-a-half short took four years to make, but the feature length will be out by next year, Wood said. And the experience of doing another animated character has left him hungry for more.

“It’s a totally different kind of experience,” he said. “You don’t really rely on the physical. It’s loose. And it’s fun to just create a voice and work on a character that way. It’s a different kind of creative process. It’s fun.”

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