At four seasons strong, "Wilfred" has had quite a successful run. Elijah Wood has been playing Ryan, a guy who visions a dog as a man. How is that even possible? Who really knows. Given an answer to this bizarre behavior or not, the part psychological and part comedic appeal is what has drawn a unique audience to tune in since its premiere. But, there is an end to most every show and "Wilfred" is at its doom.
Elijah Wood recently took some time out of his busy schedule to chat all things "Wilfred" and Ryan. "Wilfred" is currently airing Wednesdays on FXX at 10 P.M., and the series finale is set for August 13.
What is it that first attracted you to the role?
Well, I think the pilot is the first thing that I read. There was only the pilot and it was the strangest thing I’d ever read and also the funniest. But I’d certainly never seen anything like it or read anything like it. So, that in and of itself was a real appeal.
But it also reminded me of Harvey, a little bit. I’m a real fan of Harvey and Jimmy Stewart’s performance and the sort of notion of what that film is about that it’s sort of up for interpretation what “Harvey” is. And I kind of felt the same way about Wilfred. It could be about a man’s break from reality by choice. As it pertains to “Harvey” you could say that Jimmy Stewart’s character was an alcoholic. There are so many different ways that you could interpret it and that was something that really fascinated me.
And I also just on a very simple kind of level, the idea of the absurdity of a man in a cheap dog suit talking to another man, whilst everyone else sees a dog was just something that really appealed to me. So, I just totally fell in love with it and then ultimately consequently having conversations with David Zuckerman about where he wanted the show to go excited me even further.
How do you feel about the “Ryan” we met in the premiere versus the “Ryan” we’re seeing now as his journey is coming to a close?
Well, I think the “Ryan” we met initially was kind of, in general, he had really kind of hit an impasse in his life where he didn’t know where to go and he was sort of ready to end it and the character that he is now I think has developed a sense of strength and an understanding of what he needs to be happy and in some ways that it’s not about being happy, which I think is probably the greatest thing that he can learn.
He also, in the earlier seasons, the way that he interacts with “Wilfred” is really to be easily manipulated and the sort of wool being pulled over his eyes quite simply. And now I think he’s far wiser to “Wilfred’s” methods. And I think, ultimately, when you see the resolution of the show I think he really comes to an understanding of his place in the world and who he is and, more importantly, I think to be okay with not knowing.
I think that’s probably one of the greatest lessons of the show and for him in his life is that you can’t necessarily have all the answers. The sort of seeking for happiness and the pursuit of that and the pursuit of sort of clarity is ultimately futile. That is, it’s kind of about progressing through life and not knowing and the unknown being really good. And I think that’s ultimately where he will come to and I think that’s important.
What do you think, five, six years down the road, the legacy of "Wilfred" will be and do you think that’s contingent on how the series finale is received?
Honestly, I’ve not given much thought to that, but yeah, I think to a certain degree "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 into itself or 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 I think they enjoy watching the process of ultimately the development of “Ryan’s” character, as it pertains to “Wilfred.” So, I think, 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 I think without revealing anything I think it has a sense of being definitive whilst still plays with ambiguity, which I think is really important. I think, to a certain degree, answering, to me in some ways it’s not even about answering questions.
Now that the show is ending is there anything that either you were given or you asked for to take from the set?
Yes. I have “Bear” in my possession. And I have the Gatorade bong. There’s one of two, I think Jason has the other one. And actually 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. But “Bear,” 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 or anything, so I felt like I had to save it. And I drove “Bear” home and put him in my house and sat him in a chair and it just felt so right. I was sitting there on my couch looking over at “Bear.”