It's Hollywood's sordid secret - an industry with a history of shielding child abusers - and Elijah Wood is the latest star to lift the lid on it.

The 35-year-old Lord of the Rings actor told the Sunday Times that paedophiles had a history of being protected in Tinseltown, and that the abuse continues. He likened the cover-up to the Jimmy Savile scandal that rocked Britain.

Wood, an actor from the age of 8, said he had been protected by his mother from abuse as he grew up in the industry. But other child actors were not so fortunate, preyed upon at parties hosted and attended by powerful industry figures, he said.

On the publicity trail to promote his latest film crime thriller The Trust, Wood preferred to point his finger squarely at the Tinseltown cover-up.


"You all grew up with Savile - Jesus, it must have been devastating," he said.

"Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood. It was all organised. There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind.

"There is a darkness in the underbelly - if you can imagine it, it's probably happened."

Wood, whose fame peaked when he played Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings, said the abuse continued because "victims can't speak as loudly as people in power".

"If you're innocent, you have very little knowledge of the world and you want to succeed," he said.

"People with parasitic interests will see you as their prey."

Bizparents, a group set up to help child actors, says the industry is sheltering about 100 active abusers. Co-founder Anne Henry says a wave of fresh allegations is coming.

Claims that powerful industry figures have protected child abusers have gained prominence in the past 10 years. There have been a handful of convictions, and many more accusations. Some criminals have served time, then returned to work with children in the industry.

Former child actor Corey Feldman, whose child film roles included The Goonies, The Lost Boys, Gremlins and Stand by Me in the 1980s, has revealed that as a teenager, he was surrounded by abusers.

Speaking out in his memoir about the abuse he suffered he said: "The No 1 problem in Hollywood was and is - and always will be - paedophilia".

By the time he was 14, he said, he was surrounded by child abusers. He became friends with another child actor, Corey Haim, who was also abused.

Both actors have since experienced mental health problems, alcoholism and addiction to crack and heroin. Haim died at the age of 38, after many visits to rehab.

Feldman blames "a Hollywood mogul" for Haim's death, and says the people who abused him "are still out there and still working - some of the richest, most powerful people in this business".

Wood said his mother, Debra, protected him.

"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 to temptation."