Wilfred, which returned last week for its third season, has emerged as one of FX’s most intriguing series thanks to its smart writing, interesting stories, and witty characters. And as Wilfred’s trusty sidekick Ryan, series star Elijah Wood has made sure there’s never a dull moment – for the show, or for the character.
“I think the idea of playing someone who has effectively hit a wall in his life and is trying to rebuild himself, and help himself, definitely provides a lot to work with,” Wood said in a recent press call. “There is a sense of growth over the course of now three seasons, and I think that keeps me excited, but it’s also fun to work in the context of what we’ve created. And it’s always exciting to work with Jason [Gann].”
Read below for more with Wood, including a few hints about what he’s looking forward to as the season unfolds:
On exploring Ryan’s possible mental illness:
“I think we don’t really address head-on any further in this season so much the idea of mental illness, but I think it’s always been there, even if we haven’t talked about it. I think it was interesting to see that in the first episode, Ryan kind of addressing it for the first time and sort of being self-aware that could potentially be the reason for Wilfred’s existence. I think from here on out, having established that as a possibility, it will always be there as a way to sort of potentially look at each of the scenarios that he gets himself in to with Wilfred. But I also think, because we don’t outright answer it, there’s still a sense of ambiguity as to what Wilfred is, and I think that’s kind of important for the show that we don’t necessarily answer that question.”
On the future of comedy and the fact that gimmicks and situational comedy could replace highbrow intellectual comedy:
“I don’t know if I have much of an opinion on it. I mean, on a sort of broad level for films, I think that there are exciting things happening. I think where some of the best comedy is coming out is probably online. You know there are so many distribution models now and people are doing some of the more interesting things potentially in smaller avenues. I suppose that’s where some of the most exciting things are happening. I mean, cable provides that conduit as well. A show like Louie, for instance, couldn’t exist if it weren’t for a network that was sort of brave enough to just let it be what it’s supposed to be…and that, I think, hopefully that inspires similar avenues of expression for comedy. I think Louie is probably one of the more inspiring things on television because it’s allowed to sort of exist and be whatever it is without it having to be strictly funny all the time, and I think that’s really exciting.”
On Ryan seemingly sabotaging other characters:
“I think that behind the sabotage, as it pertains to Wilfred, Ryan is always trying to get him to open his eyes to a specific, I don’t know, lesson or something that he’s not seeing. As much as it’s sabotage, it’s really about kind of trying to push him forward in a good direction, albeit in a sort of screwed up way. As it pertains to Ryan and his sister and Jenna, I think that his sabotage, it’s always been relatively well meaning. It’s him trying to do the right thing but going about it in the wrong way. I think one of those particular circumstances had more to do with the horrible things, the sort of unsavory things he was doing as a lawyer that he was capable of. You can see a little bit of that darkness, but I don’t know that it’s necessarily a reflection of human nature. I think any time that he’s gotten himself in that situation with Jenna or his sister, it’s really been making a mistake and then trying to fix it but kind of going the wrong direction to fix it more than anything.”
On a favorite moment from this season:
“In episode three, the kind of caper aspect of that episode between Wilfred and Ryan working together, that was something that we sort of experienced for the first time this season, and it was something that we all really loved. I love the idea of Ryan and Wilfred not always being in sort of a combative relationship but rather actually working toward something together. It was a blast. It was really fun, particularly that scene where we bust in to the guys car, and we’re sort of in this thing together in like a sort of caper scenario. I think it’s something that we’d like to continue doing.”
On the importance of Bear:
“I think Bear is an important character for Wilfred. The fact that Wilfred has an independent relationship that is not reflective of his relationship with Ryan adds something to the show, and it adds something to Wilfred’s own existence. I mean, it’s obvious that it also provides a great amount of comedy, because it’s a hilarious relationship that is extremely curious and strange. And it’s also, I think, reflective of that sort of notion of dogs having an obsession with a certain stuffed animal because that happens with dogs. It sort of works on all those levels, but at the end of the day, it’s also just really funny that he’s carrying on these conversations that in some ways also mirror Ryan and Wilfred’s relationship. It’s like we never get to see the outside perspective of Ryan talking to a dog and in some ways we get to see what that perspective is like…that Wilfred is talking to a stuffed animal that can’t talk. It’s kind of a mirror a little bit to the Wilfred/Ryan relationship from that outside perspective.”
On Fringe’s Lance Reddick’s role this season as Ryan’s therapist:
“It’s Ryan in front of Lance’s character himself, so Wilfred isn’t even in the office. He does go without Wilfred, but it provides a really fun and interesting exploration of Ryan’s psyche. That’s an episode I’m really excited about, and working with Lance was fantastic, especially being from The Wire and everybody was very excited to have him on set. I think he was really psyched as well so that was fun, and cool to have Ryan in a kind of therapy situation to recognize that he might actually need some outside help, some outside perspective, which makes a lot of sense. It provides a really fun conduit for some mental exploration.”
Wilfred airs Thursday at 10pm on FX.