Interview: Fiona Gubelmann on ‘Wilfred’ and the Darker Side of Jenna

Fiona-Gubelmann-WilfredComic-Con 2012: As any fan of FX’s hit show Wilfred knows, Ryan (Elijah Wood) has got it bad for his next door neighbor, Jenna. And as played by Fiona Gubelmann, why wouldn’t he?

When we first saw her, she was “bright and bubbly” but this season, we get to see her a bit different and Gubelmann is happy for the change, telling me at Comic-Con that that’s “what has been so much fun for me as an actor.”

In this interview, she chats about the darker side of Jenna, shooting scenes and episodes out of order and doing Guest Star roles on other shows.

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!

So, we’ve seen a lot of struggle between you and Ryan’s character and the fake pregnancy scare. Going forward, what are we going to see from you guys?

Fiona Gubelmann:  You know, what’s really cool about this season is Jenna is really facing a lot and it’s a lot darker.  She’s going through personal stuff and work stuff and has all these challenges and so for me it was really great to get to explore that and to see my relationship with Ryan develop and to see how things are moving along.  You will definitely see more growth and conflicts between everybody.  This season is a lot darker.

How much comedy do you get to do this season because so much emotional baggage has come up as a result of what happened in Season One?  Do you hold that emotional kind of damage throughout the season?

Fiona Gubelmann:  Yeah, definitely.  That’s what has been so much fun for me as an actor.  Like, last season it was all just bright and bubbly and like, here’s your dog, ring the doorbell.  But this season I got – throughout the whole season — there is a lot of darkness. Here and there, there are great sunny moments but it’s a lot darker for me.  I find that there are a few comedic moments here and there and times that I get to say really silly things.  Jenna has such an optimist approach to things, so when I get to express a real opinion about certain things, it’s fun, but at the same time the darkness kind of goes up.

Do you think comedy is harder of drama?

Fiona Gubelmann:  I think both.  I think it just depends on the material and the character.  I think comedy is a lot more work, for me at least.

Do you enjoy doing comedy more?

Fiona Gubelmann:  I love doing comedy.  I enjoy the comedy more.  I like being silly.  I love comedy from it being, you know, we play stuff very straight to comedy that is big and broad.  I love working all sorts of different projects.  But for me, as a viewer, I have always enjoyed watching comedies that were played very straight forward and very dark.  Like Ricky Gervais is just one of my favorite comedians and Louis C.K.  I mean, you watch Louis and it’s so funny but it’s so dark and so real.  I think that’s what we hone into on eh show for the most part and I do get to, as Jenna has some silly moments, like when I got stoned last season or when you think that Jenna has a dick.  Like that kind of stuff, you get to be more of a character and I have fun with that.  But I love comedy.  I like the challenge.

How much of the show is scripted?  Is there any improv at all?

Fiona Gubelmann:  Season One, no improv.  It was strict. I mean down to every word, they were so strict.  But Season Two we have definitely gotten to play  a bit more.  We will play more so during rehearsals though, because once we’re filming, we don’t have time to improv, because we shoot seven to eight pages a day and we shoot an episode in four days, and we also shoot the show completely out of order, we block shoot.  So we’ll be shooting Episode Five and then part of Episode Two later that same day, so, in order to do that, we really really have to stick to the script for continuity and just otherwise, it would be just a huge disaster.

You guys read all the scripts before you start shooting?

Fiona Gubelmann:  Yes, except this season we shot really out of order, so we didn’t even have – I remember we were shooting part of Episode 10 and I was like, I still don’t know what happened on Episode Four, what’s going on with my character?  You guys are asking me about my relationships – I didn’t know about my relationships.  I’m like, so is Jenna happy here?  Is she not happy?  I don’t know because they literally had not written the scripts. 

Season One we would have scripts one through six available so we were able to really create and arc for the characters much better.

It really keeps you on your toes.

Fiona Gubelmann:  It does.  Yeah.  Sometimes, we’ll all be doing it.  We’ll be like, oh wait, make up, this continuity doesn’t work.  You know, we’re all kind of watching each others backs.

Do you enjoy doing it that way?  It’s probably more challenging.

Fiona Gubelmann:  Yeah, I would say I personally would prefer shooting in order.  I think just because it helps, because then you know more the moment before and this and that.  Especially, sometimes you would shoot something emotional and then we would shoot the moment before that a month later. That was definitely challenging. 

But you know, Randall Einhorn is such a great director that he would have us, he would be like, okay, let’s rehearse the scene that happened before this scene even though you’re not shooting it for a month, let’s rehearse it now so you really know where you’re going into for the scene, if that makes sense.

How many guest spots are you doing?  I know you did a part in Apartment 23 and you did Parenthood.  So are you going to be able to fit that in this season as well?

Fiona Gubelmann:  Yeah.  What’s great is we only shoot three months out of the year, so we’re free to work on other stuff throughout the year and we can do up to three guest stars a quarter, so I did that. 

I did some voices on Archer and Family Guy and then I have The Wedding Band coming up and then I also did Criminal Minds that aired in January.  It’s been fun.  I’ve gotten to do a bunch of different characters and just really diversify myself.

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