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Elijah Wood 'Wilfred' Q&A: 'We have the freedom to be dark and weird'

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Jason Gann and Elijah Wood in 'Wilfred'

© FX

Based on the cult Australian comedy, FX series Wilfred stars Elijah Wood as Ryan, an emotionally unbalanced young man who perceives canine pal Wilfred (played by series co-creator Jason Gann) as a smart-mouthed Australian man in a dog suit.

Season two is just about to wrap in the UK, with BBC Three airing finale episode 'Secrets' this Thursday night, so Digital Spy caught up with Hollywood star Wood for a look back at season two, a look forward to the show's future and to examine just what makes Wilfred so popular with fans...

Wilfred now has a big cult following. Why do you think people latched onto it last year?
"I'd like to think it's the dichotomy between its darkness - that it has deep psychological questions and it delves into the psychological aspect of what's going on with Ryan - but it's also extremely funny and completely surreal. From what I can tell, people really latched on to some of the questions that the show provides and some of the dramatic elements - it still kind of works on both levels, the way I see it.

"It's just funny with the juxtaposition of these two characters, but I think beyond that where it goes is extremely interesting and it seems like people really delve into that and understood that."

Have you adapted to how surreal the show can be, or do you still get the moments where it hits you that you're working with a man in a dog suit?
"I'm so used to it now. It was funny last season - it was very surreal actually. Jason and I ended up going to American Idol and we sat in the audience - they do sort of camera sweeps where they occasionally show the people sitting in the audience, but they didn't announce [that we'd be there] or anything...

"It was just kind of virally getting that out and it wasn't really until then that I realised, 'Yeah, it's weird that this man is in a dog suit', because I was standing next to Jason in that suit out of context and not on set, and I realised it's really weird - but now I'm so used to it!"

Elijah Wood in 'Wilfred'

© FX



Robin Williams played Ryan's therapist in season two - what was it like having him on the show?
"It was such a treat. I had the pleasure of working with him a couple of times on both of the Happy Feet films as a voice actor. But he's an absolute delight - to work with a legend like that is so incredible in that context, but it was nice to have scenes together in reality. To actually have scenes on camera together was an absolute joy.

"It was an absolute gift to have him on our show - I think it elevated what we were doing - so we were so chuffed that he wanted to be a part of it. It was a real treat, it was f**king awesome."

Wilfred is your first regular television role. Was it what you expected?
"I was surprised by how quickly it moved - we shoot on average about eight to ten pages a day. It's all dialogue driven, but also because it's comedy, it kind of keeps the energy at high levels the entire time. That pace really lends itself to the work in a good way."

Jason Gann and Elijah Wood in 'Wilfred'

© FX



Was the appeal of Wilfred initially that you were on a cable network and it could be dark, edgy and surreal?
"Oh absolutely. I don't think it would have been nearly as interesting if you were to do a show like this on a major network, largely because I don't know if we'd have the freedom to tell the stories that we wanted to tell and get dark and weird.

"You know, sometimes we have episodes that are more dramatic than they are funny, and FX has really given us the latitude and freedom to work within that space and to tell interesting stories and not necessarily have to sit in a solid obvious format. So yeah, I don't think that this show could exist on any other network - it sort of has to be on a cable network."

You obviously have fans from your film roles, but do people approach you now to talk about Wilfred?
"Totally, which is incredibly refreshing. We'll walk around and we have people that recognise us from Wilfred and people that have insights and thoughts about the show - they are avid watchers, and I'm actually quite surprised by the different kinds of people that love the show.

"I actually ran into Josh Hartnett last month - who I haven't seen in years - and he said that he and his girlfriend are huge fans of the show, so it has this wide appeal which I kind of take for granted, because I don't really think about who's watching necessarily.

"In a way it's the same with films - you do the work and you're proud of what you've done and you move on and you let it go, so it's really surprising when you get people's reactions."

Jason Gann in 'Wilfred'

© Rex Features / FX Network/Everett



The original Wilfred only ran for two seasons in Australia, but are you hoping that your show will run for a third season and maybe beyond that?
"My feeling is that we're probably going to get a third season. I'm actually a real fan of British comedy and specifically of the way that it knows its space and what it needs to do, then leaves - unlike American comedies, typically network shows, that tend to run for seven or eight or ten seasons. Sometimes that format works but I really love shows that come in, tell their stories and move on, and I kind of hope that that would be the way with Wilfred.

"The thing about Wilfred is that it's so specific to a man and his hold on his sanity or lack of, so in a way I think it only has a short shelf life if we're being truthful to the concept of the show. I sort of see maybe four or five seasons at the most - that would be perfect for me."

The Wilfred season two finale airs on Thursday (November 8) at 10pm on BBC Three.

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