THE LORD OF THE RINGS star Elijah Wood has become a real-life supporter of soccer team WEST HAM - in a case of life imitating art.

American-born Wood - currently filming THE YANK in which he plays a passionate West Ham fan - has succumbed to the charms of the east London team, and is now a keen supporter after going to see them play twice recently.

Wood says, "West Ham is my team - it has stolen my heart. They had a great game before, against Crewe, and it was brilliant. There were six goals and it ended 4-2 to West Ham."

Wood is set to run out for West Ham as part of a pre-match kick-about, but he's bracing himself for the crowd's reaction.

He asserts, "I'm rubbish. I'm sure I'll make a fool of myself. I don't know if they will come up with a chant - I hope they do.

"If it is from West Ham I hope it will be positive but if one of the other teams comes up with something I'm sure it will be some kind of derogatory hobbit chant - which I'm very much looking forward to."

The actor has also defended the film's working title HOOLIGAN - which had to be changed after complaints it gave West Ham a bad reputation.

Wood explains, "Being an American that word doesn't have any kind of negative connotation - in fact it is a kind of silly wood, it means ruffians, like little kids."

29/03/2004 21:47