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“Wilfred” Q&A with Elijah Wood and Dorian Brown

“Wilfred” Q&A with Elijah Wood and Dorian Brown

Elijah Wood plays Ryan, a young man who receives guidance from his neighbor's titular dog (Jason Gann). Photo courtesy of FX.

“Wilfred” Q&A with Elijah Wood and Dorian Brown
June 26
10:36 2013

Preston Barta / Film Critic

It seems that many actors today take one easy-to-digest role after the other. Very few are capable of taking on a variety of roles and fully committing to every on-screen moment. But what is generally a daunting task is far from an issue for gifted actor Elijah Wood, who has mastered and remastered this level of craft through the course of his career.

Best known for playing Frodo Baggins in “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, Wood is considered to be one of the most talented actors of his generation. If you are familiar with his work in the haunting horror flick “Maniac” this year, or in FX’s sweeping comedy series “Wilfred,” you know how adept in the art of acting he is.

On the Record Magazine recently had the opportunity to speak with Wood and his onscreen sister in “Wilfred”, played by the lighthearted Dorian Brown (“Home Run,” 2013) about what audiences can expect from its third season.

Before you started filming “Wilfred,” what was it about the character and the show that drew you in, and how do you keep your character fresh as we continue to watch the show?

Elijah Wood: “Well, upon reading the pilot script, I kind of fell in love with the whole idea of the show— both the character and the structure of what this show was— being so unique and so unlike anything I’ve seen or read before. I also found it deeply funny. As far as the character is concerned, I think the idea of playing someone who has effectively hit a wall in his life and is trying to rebuild and help himself— it definitely provides a lot to work with.

There is a sense of growth over the course of the three seasons, but it’s also fun to work in the context of what we’ve created. Plus, it’s always exciting to work with Jason Gann, who plays Wilfred. Aside from the characters in development, I find it inspiring and always exciting as an actor to be working opposite him for everything that he comes up with.”

What can we expect to see from your character, Kristen, and the show this season?

Dorian Brown: “Expect to see Kristen start enjoying herself. She and Ryan start to get along and even enjoy some moments with each other this season. Elijah and I were working on a scene— in an episode later in the season— and we couldn’t figure out why it felt so odd. Why it wasn’t working itself out smoothly, and we realized it’s because our characters are getting along right now. I didn’t nag him once in the scene. It felt so strange.”

Is there a theme for the season that’s going to tie all the episodes together?

Wood: “I think every end of season we’ve addressed scenes and elements from the entire season. We’ll kind of continue on a sense of searching and questioning, so I think we do that. I think that there are certain things that kind of get a little bit tied up, and then new questions kind of arise out of that. In that same way that we’ve dealt with this final episode— kind of tying up elements of what the characters have been going through— we continue that in this season as well.”

As a mother, would you feel comfortable letting Elijah’s character babysit your own child— assuming that you know the same sort of things as your character does on the show?

Brown: “Absolutely not! I am so picky about my babysitters in real life. There would be no way, even if his character was my actual brother.”

Have you ever, possibly out of curiosity, tried on the dog suit?

Wood: “For the first time this year, I did. It’s funny because I don’t know why I had never tried it on before. I think I always was curious, but there’s something a little bit sacred about the suit. Perhaps it’s because I respect that it’s Jason’s suit and character. But the director wanted me to try it on because we were doing a behind the scenes kind of thing. It was surreal to see myself in that suit.

We talked about the idea of actually doing a dream sequence. What if Ryan wakes up and sees himself as Wilfred? I mean I love the idea of the tables being turned. There’s something there in his sort of exploration of what Wilfred is.”

What’s your opinion about the future of comedy? Are gimmicks and situational comedy going to win out over highbrow intellectual comedy writing?

Brown: “I am a huge fan of subtlety in comedy. I don’t respond to multi-cam live audience comedy or gimmicky comedy the way I used to. Comedy is changing, as well as the audience. People expect so much more from story now.”

And lastly, if you could teach a college course, what would you teach? It could be a class that already exists, or of your own creation.

Brown: “I was a BFA major and never once did anyone teach me about hitting on-camera marks. I knew all of the ins and outs of acting, but you get to your first job and all of a sudden you have cameras, marks and props to work with. Or babies! Or animals! You have so many other things to think about. So I would ‘attempt’ to introduce students to that world. I only say introduce because I am no master by any stretch of the imagination. It’s hard.”

Wood: “I think it would be really fun to teach a music course— a course that would sort of focus on music history to a certain degree, but mainly twentieth century and sort of bridge the gap for people where the kind of connective tissue is in modern music to older music.  That’s something that I’m fascinated by and it’s definitely a huge part of my listening experience. My research experience is discovering older music and seeing its connection to music that we listen to now and understanding its roots. I think having a class devoted to that— to kind of expand upon what we listen to now and sort of make those connections both sort of within our own country and then also internationally, I think would be a blast. It’d be fun to do that.”

“Wilfred” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. CT on FX.

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