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Wilfred (and The Hobbit) – Elijah Wood on how life can be a dog and still fun

Wilfred - Jason Gann, Elijah Wood and Fiona Gubelman
Wilfred (Jason Gann), Ryan (Elijah Wood) and Jenna (Fiona Gubelman) on the set © 2011 FX

I caught up with Elijah Wood at the Fox-TV party this week. He was there to promote his new comedy on F/X called Wilfred. But it didn’t take long before we got to the subject everyone is interested in – his return to The Lord of the Rings franchise, reprising his role as Frodo in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

But I’ll let Elijah explain the concept for his unique new series first!

Because Wilfred is so unusual, how would you describe it to people?

Wilfred - Elijah Wood and Jason Gann
Ryan (Elijah Wood) and Wilfred (Jason Gann) © 2011 FX

It’s not exactly easy to describe. It’s a comedy about a man who befriends a dog named Wilfred that everyone thinks is a dog, except he sees the dog as a man in a dog suit (Jason Gann).

The comedy comes out of that. That’s the basic premise of the show.

Had you heard of the original Australian series before they pitched this to you?

I’d actually not heard of the original show before. It is bizarre, but I think that’s why I fell in love with it so much. It’s very unique. It’s unlike anything I’ve read or seen on television, and it’s very, very funny.

It sounds a lot like Harvey.

It is, sort of. That’s something I really clued into as well. I’m a huge fan of the Jimmy Stewart film and I love that sort of disconnection from reality that he has with that character, and there is definitely a kinship there, for sure.

Does it feel odd to act opposite a guy that’s dressed in a dog suit?

Wilfred - Jason Gann
Wilfred (Jason Gann) © 2011 FX

It’s great. No acting required.

There is an inherent strangeness to this show.

And I loved that. It’s so unique and it is strange. And it’s really exciting to work on something that is not easy to define and is quite unique and is dark. I’m just excited about the prospect of where it’s going.

So often when a show is remade from a foreign country the actors and the creators don’t necessarily come over to the States for the remake. And after reading the pilot and loving it, and seeing some of the clips from the original show, I felt so great when I knew Jason Gann was reprising his role as Wilfred and he was involved creatively.

It made me feel so much better about doing it, because it keeps the integrity of the original piece.

Why television? Were you looking for something, or did they approach you with this?

I had started reading television scripts. I think television has become such an interesting place for characters and for incredible storytelling. Half of what I watch now are television shows that I’ve become obsessed with.

Wilfred - Elijah Wood and Jason Gann
Ryan (Elijah Wood) and Wilfred (Jason Gann) © 2011 FX

I just think that it’s opened up so much over the last five years, to be such an interesting and creative medium.

So many wonderful directors and actors are moving to television because it is a great medium for telling stories and for creating a character over a long period of time. And I love comedy, so I was interested in exploring what there was out there in regards to comedy.

I read Wilfred and fell in love with it.

What shows are you obsessed with?

I’m a huge AMC fan. Mad Men is amazing. Breaking Bad is genius. The Walking Dead is great. I’m really excited to see where it’s going to go. I’m a big [Frank] Darabont fan, and I love the graphic novel. There are all sorts of shows that I love.

Was there a chance that you wouldn’t be able to do The Hobbit because of Wilfred?

The Lord of the Rings 1 - Elijah Wood
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) © 2001 New Line

No. [I] was always with The Hobbit, as they wanted to do it very early in their schedule, so it just happened to work out very well.

How did you find out that you’d be playing Frodo again?

I actually spoke to Peter awhile ago and I had an idea that there was something that they were thinking about.

This was quite some time ago now, so it was in my mind as a possibility, but not as a fully formed concept that they were sure about until recently, where I was given an offer.

Do you think it’s going to be easy for you to step back into the role?

I don’t know; that remains to be seen. A friend recently asked me that same question, and I think my immediate answer was, ‘Yeah, it should be simple.’ But it has been some time, so I’m sure I’ll have to re-watch some of the films first.

What’s it like to be returning to Middle Earth?

The Lord of the Rings 2 - Elijah Wood
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) © 2002 New Line

It’s a gift. We’re now going on over a decade since I went out to New Zealand to start The Lord of the Rings, so it’s just going to be a beautiful reunion.

I was actually out there in February and a lot of the same crew and designers, and so many of the family are a part of making The Hobbit as well. It’s just going to be a beautiful, very surreal reunion.

Does it make it that much more special to have Peter Jackson back for it?

Yes, absolutely. I was very excited at the prospect of Guillermo [Del Toro] doing it. I’m a huge fan of Guillermo’s work and he’s a wonderful man, but it obviously makes it that much more special that Peter is doing it. It’s going to be a true reunion, in that sense.

The Lord of the Rings 3 - Elijah Wood
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) © 2003 New Line

Who else is coming back?

Ian McKellan is back. Andy Serkis is reprising his role as Gollum. Cate Blanchett is coming back as Galadriel. There are a few others from the original trilogy.

When will you start filming?

Sometime in February.

How will you be able to get back in March to do Wilfred?

[My part in The Hobbit] is going to be very small, it will really be a nod, which I think is great. Look, I’m just excited to go back.

You don’t often eleven years down the line get a chance to revisit a character and place and a time in your life – so I’m excited about that.