Currently in its final season, the FX comedy Wilfred follows Ryan (Elijah Wood), a young man who is still questioning his sanity while learning how to overcome his fears and embrace the unpredictability and insanity of the world around him. As Ryan struggles to make his way through life, the one constant is his unique friendship with his neighbor’s canine pet, which he happens to see as a crude Australian (Jason Gann) in a cheap dog suit.
During this recent interview to talk about the show’s final season and to reflect back on the entire experience, actor Elijah Wood talked about where Ryan’s level of paranoia is, at this point, what he thinks the legacy of Wilfred will be, if there is a storyline or character he wishes was explored more deeply, what he’ll remember most about being a part of the show, what he took from the set, and what he has coming out next, as an actor and as a producer. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
ELIJAH WOOD: Reading the script, it was honestly my favorite script that I’ve read, maybe in the entire show. It was so exciting. I read the season in order, and it just totally blew my mind. It’s honestly representative of some of my favorite elements of the show. When the show can get as surreal and twisted, psychologically, as this episode gets, it’s my favorite areas for exploration, especially when it allows for a visual way to explore psychological things, visually. So, it’s one of my favorite episodes and I’m so glad that we were able to not only do it, but we actually shot primarily all of that trippy stuff with anamorphic lenses, which was a real treat for us. Typically, we’re shooting with our DSLRs, and to be able to utilize the anamorphic wide screen was really exciting, on a nerdy level, for all of us. It was cool to get these amazing anamorphic lenses, and then when we were finished using them, they ended up going off to Star Wars, which is totally awesome. The thing that blew my mind about that particular episode is that we actually delve into so many things that I think we, as viewers, and to a certain degree Ryan, is concerned with, which is like seeing Wilfred step out of his suit. Seeing all of these things from Ryan’s psyche actually play out, and to be able to come back from that, as just something that he imagined in the hallucination, is totally incredible. Ultimately, it’s a manifestation of his own psychological concerns and fears, more than anything. It plays to his paranoia about what Wilfred is, in its deepest sense. It’s a mind trip. It’s a hallucination that allows us the ability to really delve into that and play with it, which was a blast.
What do you think the legacy of Wilfred will be, and do you think that’s contingent on how the series finale is received?
WOOD: Good question. Honestly, I’ve not given much thought to that, but I think Wilfred is a show that, in some ways, was always designed to be enjoyed as individual episodic television, so that each piece could be enjoyed unto itself, whilst a deeper enjoyment can be gleaned from the whole, if you will. So, I still hear from people that go back and watch the first two or three seasons, and enjoy them, just in terms of the relationship between Wilfred and Ryan, which I think is at the core of the show. But then, there are also people that watch it because they want answers and they enjoy watching the process of the development of Ryan’s character, as it pertains to Wilfred. So, to a certain degree, once it’s fully contextualized, at the end, perhaps that will have some bearing on it, as a whole. I’m really pleased with how it ultimately comes to an end, and without revealing anything, it has a sense of being definitive whilst still plays with ambiguity, which I think is really important. To a certain degree, in some ways, it’s not even about answering questions. It’s really interesting how that has become a focal point for a lot of people and, obviously, it is for Ryan, too, to understand what Wilfred is and to have a better understanding of himself. But, in some ways, the answers are irrelevant. It’s about one’s own development and also about the beauty of what that relationship is, regardless of what the manifestation is or what Wilfred is. I think, at the end of the day, regardless of what Wilfred is, it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is the relationship and Ryan’s own personal journey. I think it is a show that people seem to enjoy watching again. As much as we are concerned about the whole, in regards to a development of character and a story that we’re trying to tell, I also think that the show is enjoyable as individual pieces and, hopefully, people will like coming back to that. I certainly love that relationship, and I would be interested in watching it again, but time will tell, I suppose.
Was there a storyline that you wish would have been explored more, throughout the seasons?
WOOD: Oh, man, I don’t know if there’s anything that we didn’t explore enough of. That’s a good question. There was the roommate from last season, played by Kristin Schaal. I absolutely adore Kristin Schaal, and I really wanted her to come back this season. I thought that what she did with that character was so brilliant and so funny, and it was an absolute joy for all of us to work with her. She was actually an actress, starting in Season 1, that I would tell the writers and everyone who would listen that we need to get her on the show, just because I think that she’s wonderful. So, to finally have cast her and get her on the show was really wonderful. And I thought the dynamic that she brought was really exciting. So, I wanted her to come back because I would love to have seen that character more. And I love the Bruce character. If you think about the fact that all of this might be manifest in Ryan’s mind, the fact that Ryan would manifest a villainous character that is an antagonist to Wilfred is so absurd and so strange and wonderful. So, I’ve always loved the Bruce episodes for how truly strange they get. And taking a step back and looking at it, those manifestations are so complex.
WOOD: Honestly, it would be the family that we created, or that was created as a result of making the show. In a way, the hardest thing to let go of, when it all came to an end, was the crew and the family that had been created, over the years, because it was really the same group of people for the majority of the episodes, over the course of four years. So, when I think about the show, I really think about that. I think about Randall Einhorn directing every episode, except for two in the first season. It’s not common, and certainly not for a comedy, for a single director to direct every single episode. And so, in that, we were really fortunate and he had an incredible vision for the show. And everything descended from him. That’s really the resounding memory that I have. We got to go to work, every day, and have a laugh, and what a gift it was, to work with people that you love and with material that was constantly hilarious. I would genuinely look forward to the three months that I got to go to work, every year, with these great people. I’ll definitely miss that.
Now that the show is ending, is there anything that you were given or that you asked for from the set?
WOOD: Yes, I have Bear in my possession, and I have the Gatorade bong. There are two, and I think Jason has the other one. A good friend of mine has a good portion of the basement. I was most sad to see the basement go. I think all of us felt a really strong connection to the space. We spent a lot of time, over the years, on that set, and I was trying to advocate for someone to literally take the whole set and build it on their property, but no one did. I was trying to get Randall to do it because he’s got a bit of land. But a friend of mine actually took a lot of the furniture and replicated the basement in his house, which is pretty awesome. So, I can actually go to my friend’s house and sit in the basement. But, that’s it. I don’t think I have anything else. I was actually really scared to take Bear home. I was primarily worried about where Bear was going to go, and I didn’t want it to fall in the wrong hands or to be sold, so I felt like I had to save it. I drove Bear home and sat him in a chair, and it just felt so right.
What do you have coming up next?
WOOD: There’s a film that I did, earlier this year, that just played the Edinburgh Film Festival, called Set Fire to the Stars, which is a movie about Dylan Thomas’s first trip to the U.S., and the poet professor that brought him over. That should be coming out sometime before the end of the year. And then, there’s a film called Cooties, that my production company produced, that played at Sundance. That should also be coming out, hopefully, before the end of the year, and Lionsgate is going to distribute. There’s also something that we produced, called A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, which I’m extremely proud of. It’s written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, who is an extraordinary filmmaker. It’s her directorial debut, as a feature film. It’s an Iranian Vampire Western in black and white, and that comes out in October. I’m really excited about people getting a chance to see that. That’s pretty much it.