Who says actors always go after the flashy roles? ''My character is neurotic and a little bit of a loner,'' says Elijah Wood of Everything Is Illuminated. ''He's uncomfortable and somewhat odd and strange. I enjoyed that.'' Wood plays Jonathan, a somber young American who heads to Ukraine to find the woman he believes saved his grandfather in World War II. Based on Jonathan Safran Foer's best-selling 2002 novel, Illuminated dovetailed with a story that writer-director Liev Schreiber just happened to be working on. ''I had already begun a road movie about a young guy who goes to Ukraine to find out where his grandfather was from,'' he says. ''That's what made it so wonderfully easy.'' It might have been the only simple thing about Schreiber's first-time directing gig, as he learned most of the technical aspects on the job and was forced to splurge on one of Hollywood's top dog trainers to cast the key canine role of Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior. ''The dog trainer is really important,'' he says. ''If [the dog] doesn't perform, you're screwed. But this dog was incredible. She did everything we wanted within the first two takes. Trying to get the other actors to perform at that level was sort of a feat.''