Interview: Jason Gann, Wilfred is “Hamlet in a dog suit”

Jason: "I feel really satisfied with what I’ve done with the character"

jason-gann-wilfred-comic-conComic-Con: Jason Gann is almost as quirky as Wilfred, the guy-in-a-dog-suit character he plays on FX’s funny as heck show, Wilfred.

He’s got crazy ideas for the show (he wants the Black Eyed Peas to come on the show and have Ryan (Elijah Wood) save them from a plane crash) and even though he’s played Wilfred for a while now (in both the US and Australian version of the show), he told me in a roundtable interview at Comic-Con that he’s really satisfied with where the character is right now.

Check out the interview below where he chats about the rest of the season, the dog suit and how he’d like to end the series.

Wilfred airs on Thursdays at 10pm on FX

Now that you’re multiple seasons in, do you find the show easier to do now or is it harder to do?

Jason Gann: This year was the easiest and most fun year to do. Even though Eli [Jorne], Reed [Agnew] and I really sat down at the beginning and decided that we wanted to make a few adjustments with where the show was going and that took a bit of work… you’re still trying to fine tune what the show is, because there are so many elements to it.

But once the show was written and we were confident with the scripts, the actual shooting of the show was easily the most fun we’ve had and it just was a breeze.

Normally for the last month of me getting in that suit I’m like tearing my fur out. But this year was… it was finished and I was like, “I could’ve done another couple of months.”

Is it a new suit every season?

Jason Gann: I get one new suit each season, yeah. That’s what I’m allowed. And we keep the other suits, they become stunt suits and wet suits and things like that.

When you did Wilfred’s twin, was there a thought of getting a different suit for that?

Jason Gann: Well, we actually do an episode which we do have a different… I don’t think it’s gone to air yet, it’s where there is a different Wilfred. It’s pretty trippy. An EMDR episode. Do you know what that is? EMDR is this psychotherapy type technique where you go… you regress and go back sort of almost like going into a trance state and go back into your childhood to try and find answers. And so we go back in there and there’s a Wilfred in there and he kind of looks a bit different. So that was fun. I’ve been pitching a story for a couple of years where we find out kind of like a Haley Mills movie where she’s a twin, finds out that she has this twin that’s in the royal family or something and they trade places and I wanted Wilfred to have a royal brother and then swap and they’re like, “No way.”

But this year Eli and Reed came to me and said, “I think we’ve found a way to make your twin switching places idea.” So, yeah, I was open to it and we want this year to have some more sort of fun stand-alone ideas and not get so… become slave to this whole concept of what Wilfred is and this big question always hanging over what he is and the deep, dark psychological element. We don’t want to lose that, but we also want it to be fun.

Do you have an outline of how you would like to end this series?

Jason Gann: Yeah, well, I certainly don’t want to end the series on a cliffhanger. We’ve got a real crazy cliffhanger this year that’s really exciting.

But there’s a few things. I mean, maybe he could die and there could be a new Wilfred, like a pup or something like that. I mean, dogs live for, what, 8 years, 10 years? So…

The average dog, maybe 18.

Jason Gann: Yeah, yeah. So I don’t know. I really don’t know how I’d like to see him go, but he’s just done everything. I mean, he’s Hamlet in a dog suit. I’ve done everything in that suit and this year I’ve done a bunch more crazy stuff.

So I feel really satisfied with what I’ve done with the character. He’s definitely a graduation from what I did with the character in Australia. With that the character was sort of more 2 dimensional. He was sort of angry and belligerent and menacing.

But this character over here, he has a much lighter, different shades, and he plays characters within characters. He gets all caught up in the drama of taking on these characters and he’s a bit… he’s kind of more theatrical and so I’ve kind of… I danced last year, I sang this year, I’ve had sex with a lot of different things, so I feel pretty satisfied.


Are you surprised at the acceptance of the character?

Jason Gann: When it was a 7 minute short film back, we had 6 screenings at Sundance in 2003. I was overwhelmed by the response that the public, the American public, had to just the basic concept back then. So I always kind of thought that there was, you know, it’s kind of funny. Wilfred is a funny character and I’m a fan of Wilfred, so I kind of felt that if it’s funny enough that we could… that people would enjoy it and we could have an audience.

As far as the kind of complex structure of the show and all the different elements, yeah. I mean, it’s a crap shoot and we hope that people like it. It’s kind of like people say, “You have to do what you think is funny and let the world come to you.” That’s a great idea but you’re going to want to stay on the air and you want to be happy. So you have to tick a bunch of boxes creatively to have a career. So we’ve just done our best and I know that we get away with a lot more than most guys do creatively, so time will tell if it pays off. But it’s a lot of fun trying

What other stories do you have in mind that you haven’t gotten to do yet?

Jason Gann: Look, I might as well say because it’s never going to make it. I’ve been pitching for a couple of seasons to have Wilfred get sort of adopted by the Black Eyed Peas, they fly in the Black Eyed Peas, and they take him and Ryan up in their plane, their private plane, and then Wilfred spikes the punch with magic mushrooms and then no one can land the plane and so Ryan thinks that he hasn’t had the mushrooms so he has to land the plane with Wilfred on the Hudson River. And then it turns out as they’re landing he realizes he has had the mushrooms and then they land and then they become celebrities. You asked me how I’d like the show to end? That’s how I’d like it to end.

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