Later this year, viewers will get to see actor Elijah Wood making his leading debut on television in the unusual new FX television series Wilfred. The comedy is a remake of the Australian show of the same name, and it follows the life of a young man named Ryan (Wood), who is an introvert that struggles to find personal and professional happiness. Then, he meets Wilfred, his neighbor’s canine companion, who the rest of the world sees as an Australian Shepherd dog, but who Ryan sees as a man dressed in a dog suit.
While at the party to celebrate the Fox/FX portion of the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, Elijah Wood talked about this rather bizarre concept, his desire to work in comedy on television, how the season starts production in March and juggling this new project with the film roles he has lined up. He also shared some thoughts on his excitement about returning to Middle Earth, alongside director Peter Jackson, for The Hobbit, which he says is slated to start filming in February. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
ELIJAH WOOD: Yeah, it’s great. I like the pace. I think the pace is exciting. It keeps things fresh. Especially when you’re dealing with comedy, I think it’s nice to move at a faster pace. I’ve only done the pilot so far. We start shooting the season in March, for three months. That will be the true test, but I’m excited.
Had you heard of the original Australian series before they pitched this to you?
WOOD: I’d actually not heard of the original show before. It is bizarre, but I think that’s why I fell in love with it so much. It’s very unique. It’s unlike anything I’ve read or seen on television, and it’s very, very funny.
Why television? Were you looking for something, or did they approach you with this?
WOOD: I had started reading television scripts. I think television has become such an interesting place for characters and for incredible storytelling. Half of what I watch now are television shows that I’ve become obsessed with. I just think that it’s opened up so much, over the last five years, to be such an interesting and creative medium, and so many wonderful directors and actors are moving to television because it is a great medium for telling stories and for creating a character over a long period of time. And, I love comedy, so I was interested in exploring what there was out there, in regards to comedy. I read Wilfred and fell in love with it.
What kind of TV do you enjoy watching?
WOOD: I’m a huge AMC fan. Mad Men is amazing. Breaking Bad is genius. The Walking Dead is great. I’m really excited to see where it’s going to go. I’m a big [Frank] Darabont fan, and I love the graphic novel. There’s all sorts of shows that I love.
Because this show is so unusual, how would you describe it to people?
WOOD: It’s not exactly easy to describe. It’s a comedy about a man who befriends a dog that everyone thinks is a dog, except he sees the dog as a man in a dog suit. The comedy comes out of that. That’s the basic premise of the show.
Is it like an updated Harvey?
WOOD: It is, sort of. That’s something I really clued into as well. I’m a huge fan of the Jimmy Stewart film and I love that sort of disconnection from reality that he has with that character, and there is definitely a kinship, for sure.
Does it feel odd to act opposite a guy that’s dressed in a dog suit?
WOOD: It’s great. There’s no acting required.
How have you been able to juggle this series with all the movies you have coming up?
WOOD: Oh man, it’s all scheduled out. That’s how it’s done.
Was there a chance that you wouldn’t be able to do The Hobbit because of Wilfred?
WOOD: No. As it was always with The Hobbit, they wanted to do it very early in their schedule, so it just happened to work out very well.
WOOD: I didn’t always know. I had an idea.
What’s it like to be returning to Middle Earth again?
WOOD: It’s a gift. We’re now going on over a decade since I went out to New Zealand to start The Lord of the Rings, so it’s just going to be a beautiful reunion. I was actually out there in February and a lot of the same crew and designers, and so many of the family are a part of making The Hobbit as well. It’s just going to be a beautiful, very surreal reunion.
Does it make it that much more special to have Peter Jackson back for it?
WOOD: Yes, absolutely. I was very excited at the prospect of Guillermo [Del Toro] doing it. I’m a huge fan of Guillermo’s work and he’s a wonderful man, but it obviously makes it that much more special that Peter is doing it. It’s going to be a true reunion, in that sense.
Who else is coming back?
WOOD: Ian McKellan is back. Andy Serkis is reprising his role as Gollum. Cate Blanchett is coming back as Galadriel. There’s a few others from the original trilogy.
When will you start filming?
WOOD: Sometime in February.
How long will the shoot be?
WOOD: They’re going for over a year. They’ve got two films to make.