The Dog Days Are Almost Over: An Interview with WILFRED’s Fiona Gubelmann

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| 30 min. | TV-MA | Creator: Jason Gann, Adam Zwar | Stars: Elijah Wood, Jason Gann, Fiona Gubelmann, Dorian Brown, Chris Klein, James Remar, Nestor Carbonell and Harriet Sansom Harris

At the conclusion of the previous season of WILFRED (Season Three), we were left with many questions: Is Wilfred some kind of alien or magical being? Why did Ryan’s dad die so suddenly, and what has he been up to? Is there something Wilfred isn’t telling us? What’s going on?

Obviously, there was a lot to digest. But good news, WILFRED returns for its fourth and final season to hopefully bring some of these questions to light.

But before you check into FXX tomorrow night, check out our interview with series star Fiona Gubelmann, who plays the owner of the titular pooch. We talked about how her character (Jenna) has evolved over the series, how everything comes together in the end, her thoughts on love and relationships, and switching roles.

Well, it’s the final season. Are you all done with shooting?

Fiona Gubelmann: “We are! We wrapped a little over— Oh my God, we wrapped two weeks ago. I can’t believe that! I keep saying we wrapped a week ago, but that’s not true.”

That must have been super emotional.

Gubelmann: “Yeah! I mean, my last day, I was crying a lot. At the end of the last scene that I did they said, ‘that’s the series wrap for Fiona.’ By that point I had nothing left to cry. I cried the whole way to work. I had no more tears, so I started laughing. So everyone probably thought I was being a jerk [Laughs], but I really had nothing left. But it was beautiful. I stayed the whole day, even after I finished. We shot to almost two in the morning. It was such a beautiful way to end the show. I love everyone so much and we are such a close group of people— the cast, the crew and the network. It’s really hard to know that I won’t see them all together as a group as much.”

Hopefully you will all still keep in touch and hang out after the season finale has aired.

Gubelmann: “Yeah! I think we will. We were talking about doing— Well, every year we do this barbecue towards the end of the season, and they were talking about doing that every year in May. That would be really cool. And you know what’s fun? Whenever I do guest spots on other shows I often run into crew members that I worked with before on ‘Wilfred,’ and that’s always fun. So hopefully I will get another show and we’ll hire the whole ‘Wilfred’ crew.”

I would say Jenna has evolved quite a bit since the first season. It’s interesting to see the way that she deals with issues compared to Ryan. Let’s say the shoe was on the other foot: Jenna sees Wilfred as Ryan does. How far do you think she would have gone with all the craziness that Wilfred would bring to her life, knowing that she handles things a bit different than Ryan?

Gubelmann: “Ooh, that’s a very interesting question. Well, even though the way Jenna handles things is different, it’s also kind of the same. When we first meet her, Jenna has a more optimistic point of view in life. I would say if Jenna had met Wilfred then, it would have been very different compared to the end of the series.

I feel as though throughout the series she has shrunk a bit. Not only has she retreated from pursuing her dreams and whatnot, but she also runs away from things. She has a tendency to look to others, especially men, to help her in difficult situations. So when things get tough, she’ll just run for help.

For me, when something challenges me, I will keep going. She doesn’t quite do that. But if Jenna were to start talking to Wilfred in the same way that Ryan has gone off with him, I think she would have run off and tried to get help from someone.”

How would you like it if some of your friends taught you lessons in the same diabolical way that Wilfred does?

Gubelmann: “Oh, God [Laughs]. I don’t think so. I wouldn’t want that at all.”

Although it’s crazy the way Wilfred teaches Ryan things, I honestly think it could be more effective than someone just telling me something. I think having a friend like Wilfred would probably change me the same way that he changed Ryan. You really don’t know until it’s at your feet.

Gubelmann: “Well, actually, that’s a really good point. I think there is definitely something to be said about letting people learn their own lessons. When you tell someone not to do something, you’re taking away their power and control of his or herself. Although, I think sometimes Wilfred pushes things a little too far and does get in trouble. But I think if we are talking just about whether to let someone learn their lesson for his or herself than to just tell them, it’s a good quality to have, especially when you think about parenting. I think it’s a good quality to a certain extent, but Wilfred may cross that line sometimes.”

We get some comfort at the start of this season: some questions are answered, but a whole new batch of them surface. I think this is something that has always attracted me to this show. By the end of the season, after all the chaos has kind of died down and there’s some sense of normalcy, the camera pans over to show that Wilfred has been up to something all along, or what have you. The show could take this safe course, spoon-feed us answers, but it doesn’t. It’s so different, and I really appreciate that audiences don’t just watch it but they participate in a way. Is that something that keeps you interested in the show, even though you are apart of it?

Gubelmann: “Oh yeah! I mean, I cannot tell you how amazing it is to be on a show that I am actually a fan of. I think that’s a pretty rare thing. When I get the script, I think I am equally excited to read them as the fans are to watch them. I can’t wait to see where the writers are going to take us and how they are going to answer the questions. There are times when they back the characters into a corner and I find myself constantly wondering how they are going to get them out of it. It’s really exciting to see them do that.

I hate cliffhangers for the sake of having cliffhangers, especially when they are not paid off on shows that I watch. But I really love the way they handle it on our show. I’m really glad that FX gave us a final season to tie everything up. I don’t know if you watched ‘Twin Peaks,’ but that was kind of a bummer [Laughs] when it just ended, when we were left with all these questions. ‘What happened? What was going on?’ So I am really glad that we had the opportunity to tie everything up. I love the way that they tied everything up. It’s beautiful, tragic and funny. It’s crazy weird and trippy [Laughs], especially those episodes where you’re like what is going on? It’s so cool.”

In the season opener Ryan gets a second chance at fixing the things that went astray at the end of last season. Is there anything in your life that you wish you could have that opportunity for— a second chance, or to make amends?

Gubelmann: “Oh, God. Everyday [Laughs]. I mean, I think definitely I would love to change things. When I was a teenager my father passed away suddenly. So I know how it is to want to be able to go back and do things differently, or have the opportunity to say something to someone. Since then I really try to take each day as it is and make the most out of my relationships, friendships and encounters that I have with all people. There are definitely times when I lose my temper, but I try to make a point to go back and resolve that situation. I go back to that person and apologize. I’m human and not perfect. It’s a constant battle of, you know, trying to be good, but then you mess up. But you try to learn from that experience and move on.”

In episode two, we see that Jenna and Drew are having a few marital issues. From being on this show, being with your husband and looking back at the examples set by your parents and family, what do you think makes love last through its ups and downs?

Gubelmann: “Oh, wow. That’s a hard one. I always try to look at love, relationships, friendships, marriage and everything as you only have today. One thing that I really try to focus on is to not get overwhelmed by the big picture, but think that I only have today. So today I am going to try and be the best person that I can be.

When it comes to love and relationships, it really matters that you’re patient and kind, which sounds really simple, but there are times when you’re frustrated or stressed out, and it’s hard to remember to be polite or kind.

But also, I think you need to grow as a person, and to have support from your family, partner or spouse in that growth. And you also in turn need to support their growth and encourage it. Even if it’s something that you’re not necessarily excited about or interested in, it’s about finding ways to be excited or interested in that to support them.”

I got to end by asking about working with FX. I think FX is the sister to HBO. I’m never disappointed by what they do. They continue to make the shows on air good, and the new shows just kick butt.

Gubelmann: “[Laughs] Are you watching ‘Fargo?’”

Ah, I just finished it last week. There’s a special place for that show in the television history vault.

Gubelmann: “I completely agree. I have to tell you, I think FX is one of the most incredible networks on television right now. To me, they are the artists’ network. They are so supportive of all art forms and all artists— the directors, the writers and the actors. They are hands off, so people can create whatever they want to create. They are totally groundbreaking; they push the boundaries and take huge risks. Not only do they take risks, but they allow people to grow and develop. Even if initially a show doesn’t do well and get a lot of views, they believe in it and will give it chance over other networks. If you look at the fact that they gave us a fourth season, when so many other networks would have just canceled us— they are creating this piece of art, this amazing show. They told a story from beginning to end. I have so much respect for them. They are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I love them like my friends. They are so down to earth. I will work with them again if I ever have the chance.”

The fourth and final season of “Wilfred” premieres Wednesday, June 25 on FXX.

Feature Photo: Fiona Gubelmann plays Jenna on Wilfred. Photo courtesy of FXX.
Center Photo: Jason Gann dons the dog suit in Episode 2: “Consequences.” Photo courtesy of Ray Mickshaw/FXX

Previously published on Fresh Fiction and NT Daily.

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