This is a big week for "Wilfred" star Elijah Wood: The third season of his quirky, but endearing FX comedy premiered Thursday, followed by the U.S. release of his horror movie remake, "Maniac," in which he plays a serial killer who scalps his victims.
Wood, the "Lord of the Rings" star who's also a DJ, and the owner of his own record label (Simian Records) and horror production company (The Woodshed), talked to Yahoo! TV about what Ryan and his dog-suited pal Wilfred will be up to in the new season, about his "Adrenaline Junkie" adventures, and about his reaction to the Red Wedding on "Game of Thrones."
Before we talk about "Wilfred," we know you're a huge "Game of Thrones" fan. What was your reaction to the Red Wedding?
Oh, Jesus. I had no idea it was coming. I had heard for, I guess, the past three years … friends who had read the books refer to this Red Wedding, but out of context I had no idea what that was. It was devastating, totally devastating. Characters that I'd really come to love and in some ways the Stark family was the most noble and the most honest and true. It's so awful to see them meet that kind of end. It was just so emotionally powerful, Catelyn standing up trying to protect her son, really, really beautiful and shocking.
You've actually visited the set, right? You've sat on the Iron Throne?
Yes (laughing). I got to go to Belfast, this was actually last year, and DJ there for Bushmills. Since I was in Belfast and I knew that their studio was there, we just sort of inquired, "Would it be possible to go to the set and have a visit?" It was incredible to meet the whole team, go through the costume department … it's an amazing operation they have there. They're all so enthusiastic about the show, so passionate about it. It was a real treat.
We're sure there were people there who were fans of your work as well.
Well, it's funny. There are similarities to "Lord of the Rings" to a certain degree. Certainly that mix of fantasy and history. It really reminded me in some ways of what production was like on "Lord of the Rings." The same infrastructure, the costume department is huge, the prop department is huge. They've got their own swordsmith making real swords. It felt very familiar. It definitely seemed like those people were all fans of ("Lord of the Rings"), so that was cool.
Now, about our pal Wilfred. People keep going back to the question of "What is Wilfred? Is he real? Is he just Ryan's imagination?" The longer the show goes on, though, that seems less important because whatever Wilfred is, the important thing is that he's necessary for Ryan to become the person he's meant to be, not the one that his family wanted him to be.
Totally, yeah. That's it. I also think, just naturally, as we progress, I don't think Ryan is so obsessed with trying to figure out what Wilfred is. The conflict, the back-and-forth conversations between the two of them, are becoming less and less. I think that there's more of a level of acceptance from Ryan that Wilfred is in his life and the benefits far outweigh the questions.
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Wilfred is Ryan's best friend as well, and I think he's settled more into that. But that's really interesting. I think there has to be that level of acceptance, otherwise the constant questioning would get a little bit exhausting, which isn't to say that Ryan doesn't have deep questions. The first episode of the season opens up with him still analyzing that drawing that we saw at the end of the last season. That drawing really does play a major role in the context of the whole season. It keeps getting revisited. There still has to be some level of questioning. I think there is also acceptance in there as well. You can have a lot of fun with that.
As a viewer, you're watching it, you love Ryan and Wilfred, and their friendship, but you can never really ignore that, "Hey, this is a man in a dog suit." Is that something you have to address while you're playing Ryan?
I think I, like the character, have just accepted it. It's funny, but I see Jason (Gann, the actor in the Wilfred suit) just as an actor. I see Jason in that suit all the time, so I see it as really normal. I think [Ryan] feels the same way. It's a comfortable thing to recognize. I don't often, when we're making it, think outside of that context, what could be actually happening, what could be perceived from an outside perspective. I sort of see it from the character's eyes for the most part.
Have you ever envied the dog suit? Jason has talked about how hot it is inside the suit, especially on hot L.A. days, but it also seems very liberating in terms of the things he can do in that suit.
Oh, yeah. I actually tried on the suit for the first time this year. It is warm. I don't know if I entirely envy him, but there is a freedom to it. You speak to it being liberating, and I think in some ways, it is. I have different costumes and wardrobe changes and things. Jason very simply comes into work every day. He wears a sweat suit and then he puts on the dog suit. It's so simple and in that way, I think, the simplicity must be very liberating as well.
I think the challenge for him, and when he rises to the occasion so beautifully with that character, is because the character is just simply in a dog suit all the time, there's not a lot exteriorly to change the perception of Wilfred. He does so much incredible work with making a malleable character … Wilfred changes. Even in [the season premiere], for instance, with the other dog, Stinky. He gets to try on all these different hats and put a lot of different characters into the same character. That's where he really shines. He's really extraordinary in that regard.
I think this new season, more than any season, he's made me laugh more. I don't know if that's indicative of the season being really funny or funnier than the others, but I certainly laughed more this year.
NEXT: Wood previews the third episode of "Wilfred" and his adventure in Africa...