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Interview: Jason Gann on Playing Wilfred and Giving Up Control and Going “Along For the Ride” (video)

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Jason-Gann-WilfredComic-Con 2012: In season two of FX’s Wilfred, Jason Gann‘s man-in-a-dog-suit keeps ramping up the torment for neighbor, Ryan (Elijah Wood). And it’s never been better.

Gann originally created the show for Australian TV and it’s clear that the show and character are both special to him. But, when he found out FX wanted to make it for an American audience, he didn’t jump at the chance. He actually said “no.” He said that it didn’t make sense to just re-do the show with American accents. Luckily, Executive Producer David Zuckerman assured him that it wouldn’t be that way and if you’ve seen any bit of the Aussie version, you know they are very different shows.

In this Comic-Con interview, he talks about being self-conscious, how the whole series is an “adventure”and working with real cats and dogs on-set.

Wilfred airs at 10pm on Thursdays on FX

For the full interview, click the audio link above or download it from iTunes or check out the video below!

How have you enjoyed where they’re taking the show and where they’re taking it this season?

Jason Gann:  It’s an adventure, you know?  I would have never have dreamed that where we ended last year was where the show was going to head, but I never wanted to make the same show again.  I actually said “no” when I was first asked to play Wilfred, because I didn’t want to just do the same show except being surrounded by people with American accents.  It doesn’t make sense to me.  I would have rather seen a whole new version of the show. 

But David [Zuckerman], you know, was fan of the original and he said that he wanted both shows to sit side by side and that this would be a different vehicle for a character that he loved, which really appealed to me.  So I forfeited a fair bit of creative control and just sort of went along for the ride and I love it. 

To be able to turn up on set and read scenes from time to time, where I haven’t been in the engine room for.  You know, I haven’t actually written that scene or read scripts that are in my voice comedically that I haven’t written is such a luxury that I hadn’t had before I came here. 

But Season Two is sort of a different creature again.  The show has taken on such a life of it’s own that I think for any of us, Dave included, we could never have anticipated where the show leads and it just opens the door for where it really could go.  I’ve got like a file that’s always open which is just possible Wilfred ideas, you know, if we get a third season and beyond that are really crazy.

Jason, do you ever say to the writers, now I’m not going to do that, Wilfred wouldn’t do that?

Jason Gann:  Yeah.  Yeah.  I mean it’s never bold things. I want to make groundbreaking television and so every now and then, there’s something that will come up and I’ll say that has never been done on TV before and that is when I’m actually at my happiest and those moments I love.  And we probably have a dozen of those in Season Two, where there’s never been anything like it.

So it’s never that stuff.  It’s never because it’s too racy or anything.  It’s always because it’s –.

Yeah, you don’t seem to be shy.

Jason Gann:  No.  It’s if it’s too cutesy and if it’s too doggy.

Dog like, yeah.

Jason Gann:  Like I don’t do dog act.  I don’t scratch behind my ear.  I don’t rub my ass on the carpet.  I literally don’t do it.  I have to find a way where he’ll grab a mat and sort of do it like a towel between his legs or something, you know?  I’ve got to find a human way to do a dog behavior.  It’s very rare that the other guys don’t see eye to eye with where I want the character to go.

You’ve done some big group scenes in the show. What’s that like walking out in costume in front of all those people?

Jason Gann:  It’s always weird when there is a new big group of actors and actresses and extras and stuff like that because you don’t know who has seen the show.  I’m very shy, you know, inside I’m a very shy person.  So, I come out and I’m really self conscious and I’m like, oh I hope people know the show and if they like the show they’re going to play along. 

So, yeah, every time we do a big group scene like that I am kind of nervous.

How is it working with babies and fake babies in different scenes?

Jason Gann:  With the babies, my instinct was to like beat the fake baby up for comic value, but it just looks so real I couldn’t do it.  It was like disturbing.  Have you seen that thing?  There’s a picture of Elijah with that thing and it looks like it’s fresh out of the womb.  It was fun.

I worked with more animals this year.  We had like a lot of cats.  There was like about eight cats in one episode and there were some Dobermans and there were quite a few dogs and pigeons, so I really liked working with all the animals.

Is it tough working with cats?

Jason Gann:  No, I mean they’re really well trained.  I own two cats so I’m an actual cat guy you know, so I loved having cats on the set.  And these were like really cute.

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