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JUN
21
2 YEARS

'Wilfred' Showrunner Talks Season 2's 'Huge Revelation,' Being Paired With Charlie Sheen

David Zuckerman tells THR that Elijah Wood's Ryan will continue to explore truth -- and his friendship with Jason Gann's Wilfred.

Wilfred ELijah Wood Robin Williams Talking - H 2012
Ray Mickshaw/FX
"Wilfred's" Elijah Wood and Robin Williams

When the second season of FX's philosophical comedy Wilfred returns Thursday, three to four months will have passed since Elijah Wood's Ryan had a total meltdown and realized that the door to his basement -- and Wilfred (Jason Gann) -- may not have really existed at all.

Returning Thursday with a special "preview" episode before next week's technical season premiere, the serieswill answer whether poor Wilfred, after he was struck by a car in the freshman finale, still has amnesia and can't remember Ryan.

As part of his existential crisis of epic proportion, Ryan will find himself leading a completely different life without the pot-smoking, foul-mouthed dog who appeared to him in human form, showrunner David Zuckerman tells The Hollywood Reporter.

After exploring courage in its first year, THR caught up with Zuckerman to preview the second season, whether or not Ryan will still be hung up on Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) as well as what surprises the unpredictable series has in store.

STORY: TCA: Most of 'Wilfred' Cliffhanger to be Answered in Season 2 Opener

The Hollywood Reporter: What's the theme for Season 2?
David Zuckerman:
The first season's theme overall was living courageously and the second is more about living honestly. We have a few episodes where the titles are "Secrets," "Truth," "Honesty" and that is our overarching theme. The definition of "healthy" and "normal" are also questioned.

How will Wilfred impact Ryan as he explores what living a healthy, honest and normal life?
Wilfred is always pushing Ryan to be honest and truthful unless, of course, it doesn't benefit Wilfred for him to be honest and truthful unless he has some selfish motive. Every episode we do, we try to give Wilfred two motives to keep the audience guessing: one motive is a selfish dog motive, for example, last season he wanted to have sex with a stuffed giraffe. The altruistic helping Ryan learn something motive was putting Ryan in such an uncomfortable position that he had to swallow his pride and ask his sister for help. The same actions have two different motives for the way Wilfred approaches what he does to Ryan.

After finding that the basement where he spent most of his time with Wilfred may not have existed in the season finale, what's Ryan's mental state like these days?
He's pretty confused. When we pick him up in [Thursday's] season preview he's moved on with his life and decided that Wilfred was a bad influence in his life, prompting him to keep looking inward and he feels like that's holding him back in creating a kind of paralysis in his life. He's decided to quit looking internally and just live life. Ryan has moved on and Wilfred hasn't been in his life for three to four months and we see what his life is like without Wilfred. In the preview episode, he realizes Wilfred plays an important and positive role in his life -- or so he thinks -- and he realizes he has to keep pursuing truth and his friendship with Wilfred.

STORY: ‘Wilfred’s’ Jason Gann on the Comedy’s Season 2 Renewal and Going from ‘Hero to Zero’

How will Jenna's engagement change Ryan? Will he continue to pursue her or could he find love elsewhere with Allison Mack's (Smallville) Amanda?
Ryan reaches a point with Jenna where he realizes that her relationship with Drew (Chris Klein) isn't going to go away anytime soon and it's time for him to move on with his life and perhaps find love with somebody else. That's where Allison's character comes into play. Last season we built to a tragic ending where everything fell apart, this season we're building to a happy ending for Ryan, although "happy ending" in the Wilfred world may not be the same definition as a happy ending in most people's lives but we are building toward a feeling of progress and movement for Ryan.

How much will Robin Williams' physiatrist play into the season?
He's just signed on for the one episode. There was some discussion of bringing him back next season but we haven't pursued that yet. It's such a unique way [that he plays the character]; he wasn't really playing himself but there was a moment where we got into a meta world, which isn't something we do often. He was wonderfully game for it and is truly a fan of the show.

Will Mary Steenburgen (Ryan's mother) and Rhea Perlman (her cat who appears human) return?
Mary will be back, Dwight Yoakam (as the stranger from Wilfred's past) will be back in a really unusual episode. We have a special surprise guest near the end of the season who we're not revealing -- the way we did with Eric Stoltz (Ryan's longtime neighbor who knew everyone except Ryan) last season.

Could that surprise guest be Ryan's father?
Ryan's father plays a large role in this season but he will not be seen yet.

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What lessons from last season did you incorporate this year?
The show is consistent with last year. We start the season a little lighter and as season goes the subject matter gets a bit more serious and some of the more dramatic elements come forward, although we remain being funny. We're setting out to do more than just a show about a guy in a dog suit; we're looking to do something with a little bit more depth and complexity; most importantly we want to keep the audience guessing. At the end of the season, in the last episode, we have a pretty huge revelation, which will completely alter the course of our mythology in a significant way. Everything on our show is from Ryan's point of view, so it would be from him but it's also a big revelation for Wilfred as well.

Wilfred is paired this season with Charlie Sheen's comeback vehicle, Anger Management. Have you watched seen it? How do you feel about being paired with Sheen?
I haven't seen it. I have the screener but haven't had time to watch it yet. I hear it's good though, I've been reading the reviews. I think it's going to bring a lot of new eyeballs to FX and that's good for us. I hope the viewers who come for Anger Management stick around and check us out. The shows are pretty different tonally but a comedy is a comedy and a well-produced show is a well-produced show. I'm hopeful that we will benefit from the press and interest that Anger Management will generate.

Wilfred returns Thursday with a special preview episode bridging Seasons 1 and 2 at 10:30 p.m. on FX and opens its second season on June 28 in its regular slot at 10 p.m. Hit the comments with what you're looking forward to seeing.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit