Elijah Wood returns as Ryan Newman, the lawyer who sees something much different in his neighbor's dog, in Season 3 of Wilfred, airing Thursday nights at 10 PM ET on FX. The actor recently held a conference call where he discussed Ryan's mental stability, how often he cracks up on the set, and his first time trying on the dog suit.
When asked how often his co-star Jason Gann causes him to botch a take by making him laugh, Elijah Wood revealed it has happened more times this season than in previous years.
"Yeah and I would say even more this season oddly enough than other seasons. For some reason I sort of busted up more this season because of what Jason (Gann) was doing than ever before. I'm so used to seeing him in the dog suit and to a certain degree the context of a lot of the situations I'm very used to but it's still definitely serves to make me laugh. It's a wonderful environment to work in. It's something that all of us as a crew are kind of constantly laughing so pretty wonderful thing to go in to work to that every day."
The show doesn't offer any definitive answer about whether or not Ryan is "mentally ill" or not, since the rest of the world sees just a normal dog and he sees a fully-grown man in a dog suit. When asked if the producers delve into Ryan's mental state more, the actor said that he believes that ambiguity is necessary for the show to strive.
"I think we don't really address head-on any further in this season so much the idea of mental illness, but I think it's always been there even if we haven't talked about it. I think it was interesting to see that in the first episode, Ryan kind of addressing it for the first time and sort of being self-aware that could potentially be the reason for Wilfred's existence. I think from here on out having established that as a possibility it will always be there as a way to sort of potentially look at each of the scenarios that he gets himself in to with Wilfred. But I also think because we don't outright answer it there's still a sense of ambiguity as to what Wilfred is, and I think that's kind of important for the show that we don't necessarily answer that question."
The actor also teased that he has come up with reasons as to why Ryan may see Wilfred in this fashion, even if they aren't addressed in the show itself.
"I've kind of made up my mind as to what I think Wilfred is. I don't know that that's reflective of what the character has decided though, and to a certain degree I think when Ryan meets Wilfred in the first season it's really within an episode in a way that he sort of accepts Wilfred's existence. I think from there on out even though there are these questions and he does question what Wilfred is, I think there's a deeper level of acceptance and recognizing that Wilfred's purpose albeit uncertain as to where he's manifesting from and what it means. His purpose is ultimately positive and that is helping him. I don't know what Ryan has decided because I think Ryan is clearly questioning, but I have an idea. I think that perspective probably does help me in playing the character, but I think overall there's just a sense of general acceptance for Ryan."
He also teased one of his favorite moments from the the season, which takes place in the third episode, "Suspicion", airing tomorrow night.
"In episode three the kind of caper aspect of that episode between Wilfred and Ryan kind of working together that was something that we sort of experienced for the first time this season and it was something that we all really loved. I love the idea of Ryan and Wilfred not always being in sort of a combative relationship but rather actually working toward something together. It was a blast. It was really fun, particularly that scene where we bust in to the guys car, and we're sort of in this thing together in like a sort of caper scenario so that was really fun. I think it's something that we'd like to continue doing."
Another humorous aspect of the series is Bear, the massive stuffed animal that serves as Wilfred's "lover," of sorts. Elijah Wood spoke about what Bear's presence brings to the show.
"I think Bear is an important character for Wilfred. The fact that Wilfred has an independent relationship that is not reflective of his relationship with Ryan adds something to the show and it adds something to Wilfred's own existence. I mean it's obvious that it also provides a great amount of comedy because it's a hilarious relationship that is extremely curious and strange, and it's also, I think, reflective of that sort of notion of dogs having an obsession with a certain stuffed animal because that happens with dogs. It sort of works on all those levels, but at the end of the day it's also just really funny that he's carrying on these conversations that in some ways also mirror Ryan and Wilfred's relationship. It's like we never get to see the outside perspective of Ryan talking to a dog and in some ways we get to see what that perspective is like...that Wilfred is talking to a stuffed animal that can't talk. It's kind of a mirror a little bit to the Wilfred/Ryan relationship from that outside perspective."
While it isn't known if this will actually end up in an episode down the line, the actor said that this season, he finally did try on the dog suit himself.
"For the first time this year I did it. It's funny. I don't know why I had never tried it on before, and I think I always was curious but there's something a little bit sacred about the suit is how I felt. Like maybe respecting Jason's character and respecting that it's Jason's suit that I didn't ever try it on or wasn't moved to try it on before. We actually filmed a little behind the scenes kind of thing this year and Heath from behind the scenes footage, wanted me to put the suit on for a specific thing that we're doing. He asked Jason if it was okay and Jason was like, 'Yeah it's fine,' so I got the go ahead, and then that's why I ultimately tried it on, and it was surreal to kind of see myself in that suit. We talked about the idea actually of maybe doing a dream sequence. I mean I love the idea of the tables being flipped a little bit and what if Ryan sort of sees himself, you know suddenly wakes up and he sees himself as Wilfred, there's something there in his sort of exploration of what Wilfred is. Potentially there's a sort of melding of the two, I don't know."