Jason Gann didn’t meet the Television Critics Association in costume, but there was an unmistakable recognition. That is the human face sticking out of the Wilfred suit. The American version of “Wilfred” is currently in its second season on FX, and we got to get Gann’s thoughts on the translation (from Australia.)
CraveOnline: How much do these plots mirror to the Australian plots, or is this a whole new development?
Jason Gann: It's a new ballgame altogether. We haven't re‑used any stories, and it's mainly because they wouldn't work in this new format. It's a really exciting, new. I don't think of it as a remake at all. I think of it as just being an evolution and that the Australian series informed the character and leads naturally into this new show.
There were 16 episodes total in the Australian series and after this season, we will have done 26. So it really feels like this is the show. But having said that, it's mainly the character of Wilfred that we're able to look at the Australian show to inform a lot of what the character may say or do.
Having said that, the character has really evolved in new, exciting ways and there's a lot more dimension to Wilfred in this new series that we really love.
CraveOnline: Thematically, are there themes you're interested in exploring?
Jason Gann: Yeah, the themes really are driven from Ryan's character, and David [Zuckerman, executive producer] is a driving force behind a lot of those themes and stuff, so he might be better to answer that.
Wilfred kind of drives the stories, but it really is a lot about Ryan's journey and psychoses or whatever state he's going through. Or not. I don't know, is that a copout answer?
CraveOnline: Has it gotten any easier for the actors to talk amongst themselves with the dog there?
Jason Gann: Every guest actor has a dilemma in their very first scene with Wilfred, because from the very first time you go to acting school, you learn to feed off your other actors by looking and listening and reacting. Every time I'll say something as Wilfred, the natural reaction is turn and look and then to realize that they've just completely broken the whole reality. So it's fun watching even really seasoned actors kind of have to reprogram their brain and work to see how quick it takes them to switch off from Wilfred.
CraveOnline: Do you get recognized outside of the Wilfred suit?
Jason Gann: A lot of time, no. But then when I am, it's always a surprise and I don't know how people can spot me. One day I was in my car in a car park, and I wear these massive kind of almost like blind‑dude sunglasses. You know, they kind of cover most of my face. I had a cap on and I was behind the wheel of my car and this Mexican kid is just like, "Wilfred," and I'm like how?
It's kind of fun. It's kind of good because it's not crazy like I think this poor guy [Elijah Wood] gets. I went to an event last night where there was a red carpet, and thankfully the photographers are starting to recognize me and know who I am so it's not so embarrassing, like “Who's this? Who's next?”
CraveOnline: Are you surprised the show translated so quickly to America?
Jason Gann: There was a lot of the stars seemed to be aligned. “Wilfred" [has] always had a kind of a strangely blessed journey. It's been a long journey. I mean, it was ten years ago in November on my birthday that Adam [Zwar] and I wrote the short film. And it just seemed to resonate even as a seven‑minute short film, and then went to Sundance.
We had six screenings with a feature. And the response from American audiences was overwhelming then, and that was the first time I realized that this character did resonate. And so I always believed that the character would resonate, but it was just a matter of whether the Australian colloquialisms and the very geographically based [slang would.]
That was where David really came in and brought the character. When we first met, he said that he wanted to make a show that was a new vehicle for this character that he really loved, and I think that's really been successfully done. Then you've got Elijah who's just brought so much gravitas as an individual, but as an actor. Like I said to him, it doesn't matter what I do in that suit, it's not funny until it's seen through his eyes.
There's a scene where I do the pole dancing in Season 1. To me it's only hilarious when we've seen Ryan. We realize Ryan's been watching this and then he just goes back to his conversation with the other character, with Spencer. It’s just one of those kind of great chemistry things.