Some of the funniest moments on the show are the banter between you and Jason Gann at the end of each episode. Will we be seeing more of that this season, and can you talk a little bit about the improvisation?
Can you tell us a little bit about working with Robin Williams?
Oh, it was a joy, it was such a treat for all of us. We’re all massive fans of his. And I’ve had the pleasure of working with Robin a number of times in the two “Happy Feet” films doing voice work. He’s just a delightful human being, so incredibly humble and so hilarious, and obviously an icon, and to get a chance to bring him in to our world on “Wilfred” was a total joy. And it was funny, we were sitting across from each other doing a scene and we realized that, and he said it, that this is the first time that we actually got to play a scene together in the flesh, like in front of each other and on film, and he was saying how enjoyable that was, which was wonderful. It was great to actually have a tangible space to work in as actors. ... I think he had a wonderful time. He worked with us for a few days and I think he loved our crew, and he regaled people with stories and he spent almost all of his time hanging out on set. It was wonderful. It elevated our episode as well. It was a real treat for us.
Will we be seeing Mary Steenburgen again this year as Ryan’s mom?
You will be seeing Mary again. And we particularly love working with her, she’s amazing. The one shame about doing these small episodes is that we only get our guests in for a short amount of time. Sometimes a character will feature literally for an episode only and so we only get them for a couple of days, or three days. And that was the case obviously last year with Mary because she was only in that one episode, but it felt like working with her, she left and we missed her. It felt like she was with us the entire time. She just has this beautiful presence to her and such warmth and kindness and ... incredible in the role. She has the right amount of madness and sweetness in the character and I think she gave great insight as to where Ryan comes from. We were so excited to see her again and to work with her again this season. She’s wonderful.
What can you say about Allison Mack’s character, Amanda, and how she may challenge Ryan? It seems she’ll get his mind off Jenna a little bit, but it also seems like she’s more aware of Wilfred than everybody else.
Yes, that whole arc is a very interesting one for Ryan. There’s not much I can really speak to beyond the fact that initially what she represents for Ryan is a sense of normalcy, a connection with someone outside of the immediate world around him, and a way for him to really connect with someone that isn’t Wilfred, that isn’t Jenna, that does not represent the immediate world around them. It represents a major step forward for him. But also being in the work space, it gets him out of being in this house smoking pot with the dog and allows him to grow and to connect with people, and I think it’s a very interesting arc that we’ll see over the course of the season.
Chris Klein is becoming more of a regular presence and also a common villain now. Can you talk more about Chris’ role in Season 2?
Yes. Chris’ character represents what Ryan doesn’t have. There’s this infatuation with Jenna, his neighbor, and there is a battle in his head about Chris’ character, Drew, and what he gets and what he doesn’t get ... Chris is brilliant at playing that character.
What’s it like working with the incredible Steven Weber and Allison Mack?
They’re both wonderful. Steven does an incredible job playing my boss. He’s very funny and has some really funny moments. And Allison is fantastic as well. She’s a beautiful human being. She’s a very soulful individual and a very wise individual and I think imbues the character with that. As much as she’s also a hot co-worker, there’s real depth to Allison as a person that she brings to the role.
I don’t know that these [characters] are, they’re not really minor distractions, but they are ways for him to work these things out. I think with Allison’s character it’s much more realistic for him, the Jenna infatuation is an infatuation and I think Allison’s character represents the possibility of a real connection with someone who’s available and I think she might understand him and get him in a way that Jenna may not. I don’t know that he’s necessarily working out father issues with his boss. I suppose there’s a similar dynamic, but his father, which we’ve only ever heard of and at least spoken about, obviously has a major role to play in Ryan’s difficult psychology and the head space that he’s in, and also ... that he’s not proud of that led him to the place that he’s in, and the shadow of his father is felt a lot in this season as well. So it’s something that we’re constantly exploring.
What’s it like, the differences for you, television versus film?
The pace is more intense, we move at a much faster rate than films typically do. Like I said earlier, we’re doing about four day episodes, so it’s quite a lot of material in a short amount of time, so the pace is fast, I’m having to keep up. I have just about enough time to get home every night, go over the next day’s work, get some sleep, and go at it again. So that’s a marked difference.
I think the thing that was interesting for me, this is all relatively new being on a television show and being within a comedy, and what was so interesting last year is when it first aired the realization of the fact that it was in people’s living rooms every week, it was such an interesting experience. I never experienced that. I’m used to making something over “x” amount of time, releasing it on to the world in cinemas, and then it goes away. But we were in people’s living rooms for the course of the summer, which was so interesting, it was the thing that was kind of happening every week and that people were constantly reacting to, and it was an enjoyable experience and I’m looking forward to people seeing it again and reacting to more of what we’ve done.
Was it hard to get back into the role of Frodo for “The Hobbit?”
It was a joy. I actually watched “The Fellowship of the Ring” prior to working on “The Hobbit” again. I thought it would be a good idea to do a refresh, but it was actually easy, and I think what surprised me most about it, I expected it to be very strange and trippy in a way, and what was almost more surprising is how normal it felt. I remember I was on set in Baggin and I was looking around and I was in the feet and wig and ears and in my costume and I was looking around and it felt like no time had passed and we were just still working on “Lord of the Rings.” And I think in some ways that tripped me out more than anything, at just how, like, oh yes, here we are again, this is what we’ve been doing all this time.
What is your favorite role and your most challenging role?
Wow. I think one of my favorite experiences in my life was obviously doing “The Lord of the Rings” because there’s nothing really that compared to that. It was such a unique opportunity and a unique experience, and there will never be an experience quite like it in my life. So that was extremely special to me, for a variety of reasons. I was 18 at the time; I was 22 when it was all over. It was a huge growing period of my life, and living in New Zealand was an extraordinary experience. And playing the role was a unique challenge.
I think a turning point in my life as an actor was probably “The Ice Storm.” I was 15 when I did the film—15 or 16—and I had never had that kind of challenge as an actor before with that sort of material. All of the actors that worked on the film were given packets of information on the 1970s as research, and we each had a questionnaire for our characters to fill out. It was really immersive and a different approach to the craft than I’d ever had before and it felt like a massive growing experience. I always cite that.
And another favorite experience of mine was working on “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” I think the character was interesting and dark and a bit skeevy, but the joy of that film was just simply being a part of a piece of art that I was in love with. In some ways I remember getting the script and thinking I would just as almost happily be doing catering on the film. I just wanted to work with Michel Gondry and with Kaufman. I was such a huge fan. That was a particularly special experience for me.