The actor Elijah Wood clarified his remarks on Monday after suggesting in an interview with a London newspaper that sexual abuse of child stars was more widespread in Hollywood than had been reported.
After the interview with The Sunday Times drew international headlines and questions, Mr. Wood put out a statement emphasizing that his comments weren’t based on personal experience.
“Let me be clear: This subject of child abuse is an important one that should be discussed and properly investigated,” Mr. Wood said. “But as I made absolutely clear to the writer, I have no firsthand experience or observation of the topic, so I cannot speak with any authority beyond articles I have read and films I have seen.”
Nevertheless, his words brought renewed attention to the general plight of child actors, who do not always make the jump to adult stardom, as Mr. Wood did. He began his acting career at 8 and had a small part in “Back to the Future II.” He also appeared in films like “Flipper,” “The Good Son” and “The Ice Storm,” before his starring role as the hobbit Frodo in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
But other child stars often reappear in the public consciousness only when they have run into legal trouble, die young or appear on nostalgic where-are-they-now lists.
Mr. Wood, 35, said he gave The Sunday Times interview to promote a movie, “The Trust,” but the topic strayed to child stars and pedophilia. “Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood,” he told the interviewer, though he said he was not targeted nor did he name others he thought were involved.
“It was all organized,” he was quoted as saying. “There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind. There is darkness in the underbelly.”
“What bums me about these situations is that the victims can’t speak as loudly as the people in power,” Mr. Wood continued. “That’s the tragedy of attempting to reveal what is happening to innocent people: They can be squashed, but their lives have been irreparably damaged.”
On Monday he declined a request from The Times for an interview, but put out the followup statement. He said he had based his comments on a documentary he had
seen, “An Open Secret,” in which young men described sexual assault by older men in Hollywood.
Mr. Wood is not the only actor to suggest that abuse of child actors is underreported: Corey Feldman, who worked in children’s films in the 1980s, said in 2011 that pedophilia was “the No. 1 problem in Hollywood,” calling it “the big secret.”
There have been some high-profile legal cases, including that of Martin Weiss, a manager who specialized in representing young actors and pleaded no contest to two counts of child molestation in 2012.
“Probably every child actor has brushed shoulders with a pedophile in the industry,” said Anne Henry, the co-founder of BizParentz, a resource for the parents of child actors.
Ms. Henry said she did not believe there were more pedophiles in entertainment than in other industries, but said that the children have more contact with adults than they would otherwise, leaving them vulnerable to predators. Actors and their financially dependent parents are often reluctant to report abuse or go public, she said.
“How would you stand up against an abuser in the industry who probably has a lot more money than you do, and power in the media?” she said.
In California, a law aimed at protecting child actors requires professionals who work with them to undergo background checks and to be fingerprinted, and a parent must be present on set.
In the interview, Mr. Wood credited his mother with keeping him safe.
“She was far more concerned with raising me to be a good human than facilitating my career,” he said. “I never went to parties where that kind of thing was going on. This bizarre industry presents so many paths of temptation. If you don’t have some kind of foundation, typically from family, then it will be difficult to deal with.”