Elijah Wood stars as Ryan — the man who sees his neighbor’s dog as a man in a dog suit in “Wilfred,” which recently launched it’s fourth and final season, now airing on FXX on Wednesday nights.
Recently, Wood called from Spain to chat about the show and his career.
Q: We’re talking to you in Madrid today. What brings you to the Spanish capital?
A: I’m here for the premiere in Spain of a movie I made here a year ago called “Open Windows.” I love Madrid. I have a lot of friends here, so it feels like home.
Q: What’s the best part of being on “Wilfred”?
A: I would say it’s a combination getting to watch and work opposite Jason Gann on a daily basis. Everything he brings to that character. Having worked on that show for four seasons, he still surprises me and makes me laugh. It’s kind of an incredible character — Wilfred — because it’s so defined and completely undefined, in the sense that he can make so many different versions of the same character. It allows for a lot of freedom.
So I guess the most important thing is how I love that working relationship.
Q: Is it fair to say that you also simply love playing your character of Ryan?
A: Ryan is a relatively complex character. He’s in a lot of turmoil — a lot. It’s a real existential journey for him — the concept of the show, and what it’s been over the four years.
That gives me a lot to play with. Ryan, of course, is a straight character to Wilfred, more than a straight comic one. So a lot of what Ryan encapsulates is in reaction to the Wilfred character and the world around him.
Q: Why do you think “Wilfred” has connected with it’s audience?
A: I think that aside from it being a comedy about a guy in a dog suit — which is already kind of great in its absurdity — it also has layers of depth. Those are the elements of the show that I’m the most proud of. It’s what takes it beyond simply being a weekly comedy show. There’s something new to invest in. The characters are very well drawn. There’s something definitely at stake for Ryan all of the time. There is a progression of character. I would certainly hope those are the elements that allow people to connect to it on a deeper level.
Q: Do you have a dog — or any other pet yourself in real life?
A: I look after a dog. My family has a dog named Henry, who has kind of changed hands, depending on how busy people are in my family. Henry’s lived at my house, like almost all of last year. So, I kind of did have a dog for awhile. And I sort of have a dog — occasionally.
Henry kind of reminds me of Wilfred in a way. There’s something deep psychologically going on with him there. He’s sort of elusive in how his brain works. I’m constantly fascinated by him. We have an interesting relationship. He’s a Bearded Collie.
Q: At this point — while you’re not involved anymore — any thoughts about “The Hobbit” going forward?
A: My bit in “The Hobbit” only existed in the first film, so I have nothing to report in regard to the third film, but it’s coming out at the end of the year. I actually can’t wait, because I loved the last one and I’ve enjoyed now delving into that world again, but as a viewer. I can now I can have complete objectivity — which I obviously didn’t have with “The Lord of the Rings,” because I was too involved in the making of those films.
So, to gone in to have done a little bit and revisted all that [in the first ‘Hobbit’ film] was a gift for me. Now to just watch these films as an objective viewer is fantastic.
Q: You are in a relatively small “club” of former child actors who successfully made the transition to being a successful adult actor. How did that happen for you — while it hasn’t happened for so many others?
A: It’s not a tangible, or easily describable thing, because each person has their own approach to all the things going on in this world. You look at someone like Jodie Foster, for instance. She started as a young actress and has continued to have had a phenomenal career.
What I can do is speak to it personally. What I had that was important to me was an extraordinary home life. I had a deep connection with my family. I credit my Mom with everything. If I wouldn’t have had her guidance and her instilling me with a sense of separation from the world I was in as an actor — and a very different home life that was quite ‘normalized’ – I don’t know if I would have been able to keep things in perspective.
The things that you see from the folks that sort of fall to the side is often not their abilities, it’s they sometimes become successful too quickly and spin out of control. They lose their grip on reality. I kind of had humility drilled into me from a very young age. I credit my Mom with the person I am. I think what has certainly maintained a consistency in my life.
As for the specific work, you have to remember that there’s luck, too! I give some of that up to the Universe. It’s not within one’s control!
Q: I know music is also important to you. What’s new on that front for you?
A: I’ve been DJ-ing a lot. I have a partner named Zach Cowie. We kind of DJ a lot together as ‘Wood & Wisdom.’ We travel around at various places. We did a number of dates in Europe earlier this year. We’re about to do this thing called Fantasy Con in Salt Lake City. We’re going to Turkey in August. I’ve been doing a lot of that, which has been wonderful.