'Wilfred': Elijah Wood Tries His Hand at Comedy With New FX Series

Wilfred (FX)
Michael Becker/FX

What it’s about: Elijah Wood stars as Ryan, a manic depressive who can’t quite seem to get anything right -- including his suicide note. All that changes when he meets Wilfred, a neighbor’s dog who appears to be a normal furry friend to everyone – except Ryan, who sees Wilfred as a crude adult sporting a dog costume, complete with big floppy ears. Jason Gann, who co-created and starred in the Australian incarnation, reprises his role as Wilfred.

Premiere date: Thursday, June 12 at 10 p.m.

Playing opposite a guy dressed in a dog suit in a cable comedy series isn’t what you’d normally expect from Elijah Wood.

But that’s just what drew the former Lord of the Rings star to Wilfred, the new FX comedy bowing Thursday about Ryan (Wood), a suicidal guy who finds salvation in the form of a neighbor’s dog who appears to him as an Australian man (Jason Gann) dressed in a dog costume but as an actual four-legged furry friend to everyone else.

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“It’s extremely funny but it’s also coming out of a very real place,” Wood told The Hollywood Reporter at Monday’s Arclight Hollywood premiere. “Wilfred comes to him in this moment of crisis; it’s not just random. It’s potentially a manifestation of the part of his psyche that is pushing him to live and do so outside of his comfort zone.”

Wood said that the script for Wilfred, based on the 2002 short film and subsequent Australian series that co-starred Gann and adapted for FX by Family Guy’s David Zuckerman, was unlike anything he’d seen or read and created an opportunity for him to do something he’d yet to attempt: comedy.

“It made me laugh and also presented the opportunity to do comedy, which I’d never really done before,” he said. “You’re always looking for a challenge and something different and new, so it was just an avenue that I’d never traveled down. I think I was just excited to see what would become of that.”

FX gives series order to ‘Wilfred’

Gann, who co-executive produces the series and originated the title role in Australia, had his share of comedic moments with Wood -- perhaps best known as LOTR’s hobbit Frodo.

“He gives me furry feet acting techniques,” Gann told THR, noting that Wood was "hilarious" when he tried on the head of Wilfred’s dog suit. “Every now and then he’ll say, ‘I always think furry feet are best turned outwards,’ and I’ll say, ‘Dude, step off! You’re not the furry feet guy anymore! This is my gig!”

“He’s a really cool and humble guy,” Gann added of his co-star. “This whole Hollywood star being difficult thing doesn’t apply to him.”

Wilfred premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. on FX. Check out a clip from the premiere below.

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