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Elijah Wood talks family, career, 'The Hobbit' and 'Wilfred'


June 30, 2011|By Curt Wagner | RedEye

Elijah Wood can add "comic actor" to his Renaissance man resume.

The "The Lord of the Rings" actor has dug up a hit with his first foray into series TV with "Wilfred," which attracted 3.8 million viewers for its debut June 23 on FX. In the show, which airs at 9 p.m. Thursdays, Wood plays Ryan, a depressed lawyer who sees his neighbor's dog, Wilfred (Jason Gann), as a trouble-making bloke in a dog suit.

It's a far cry from the drama of Middle Earth, which Wood worked on from ages 18 to 23. But the now 30-year-old, who I recently chatted with by phone from L.A., is always up for new challenges.

Among the big studio and indie movies he's made, he's lent his voice to video games and animated TV shows. Outside of acting, he turned his lifelong love of music into his own record label, called Simian Records (currently on the back burner, he says), and even deejays on weekends at L.A. clubs.

The former child star credits his family for his well-rounded life. They moved to L.A. when he was 7 years old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, so that he could pursue acting. He never jumped into that L.A. scene that has gobbled up young actors and led to more than a few implosions.

"There were moments" when he showed signs of an inflated ego or feeling entitled, he said, but "I can't recall any of them because I never was allowed to go any further with it. ... If any of my behavior smacked of that my family was on it so fast so I kind of never explored it, thankfully."

Now, he's just grateful for his career and for all the opportunities he's had both professionally and personally.

"Not only could I not have had the career that I've had, but also I wouldn't be the person that I am, which is far more important," he said. "It's one thing to have the support of your family to help you in your sort of life decisions and I can reflect on that in regards to where I am with my career."

And that just happens to be working with a man wearing a dog suit. In this second part of our interview, Wood and I talk about "Wilfred," Wood's family, career, his love of music and "The Hobbit." (Read Part 1 of the interview here.)

First off, I love the show.
Oh, that's awesome; that's so nice to hear. I think working on something as unique as "Wilfred," we love it and we're extremely passionate about it. It's also something that we're definitely aware of how different it is and how strange it is, and that's all the things that I love about it. At the same time it's interesting, I don't think I've ever felt so curious to see what people's reaction will be of anything that I've worked on, so it's really exciting.

What did you think of Jason Gann when you first met him?
Jason's great. [He has] a wry sense of humor. I'm definitely familiar with the sort of Australian characteristics. I met him in the context of reading for the role, so we were professionally put together in the context of having to read opposite one another. And he was just wonderful. I think there was an immediate sense of comfortability between the two of us and how we were playing off one another that continued throughout the show. I think we got on extremely well right away and saw eye-to-eye as to what that relationship [between Ryan and Wilfred] was supposed to be. Working with him was extremely easy, which was a blessing because most of the show is the two of us every day and we really could rely on each other. There was that great secondhand between the two of us. It was really wonderful. He's great…

A lot of the comedy that he comes up with, even though it's heightened and he's a man in a dog shoot, it does come from a place of honesty and there's something real happening there too. It's great; it's a lot of fun to watch.

He told meet filming was a lot of fun and that off-camera, you crack him up a lot.
I guess so. I definitely have made him laugh. I don't quite know what I've done to make him laugh, but that's a lovely compliment.

We make each other laugh. You know what's interesting I think going into it, I think it was David actually who said wow, you know, this is ten weeks, ten straight weeks. It's going to be grueling, you know, your first time on television; the schedule is going to be really intense. And that's when I like I don't know, I've definitely endured intense schedules before. And I have to say, as intense as our schedule was and we were doing an average of eight to 10 pages a day, sometimes 35, 40 setups a day, it never really felt that intense. And I think some of that's due to the working relationships and to the fun that we were having. Every day it was such a pleasure to come to work and not only to work on the material but to work with everyone involved. It was a really great creative team.

Wilfred and Ryan smoke a lot of weed together.
Yes, they do.

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