'Wilfred' Season 3: Elijah Wood on whether Wilfred is a result of mental illness

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As "Wilfred" heads into its third season, there are several recurring questions that remain to be answered. Will the reason behind Ryan's ability to see Wilfred as a person be revealed? Does "Wilfred" have a set end date? And, perhaps most importantly, will Ryan ever don Wilfred's dog suit?

These are questions that the cast and crew of "Wilfred" has pondered, and leading man Elijah Wood addressed them head on during a conference call with reporters following Season 3's premiere "Comfort." Though that episode did somewhat address whether Ryan's visions of Wilfred stem from mental illness, Wood says that's not going to be a recurring subject this season.

"I think we don't really address head on any further in the season so much the idea of mental illness," he says. "It's always been there, even if we haven't talked about it. It was interesting to see that in the first episode, Ryan kind of addressing it for the first time and sort of being self-aware that that could potentially be the reason for Wilfred's existence. I think from here on out, having established that as a possibility, it will sort of always be there as a way to potentially look at each of the scenarios."

Wood continues, "I also think because we don't outright answer it, there's sort of a sense of ambiguity about what Wilfred is. I think that's kind of important for the show that we don't necessarily answer that question.

With that being said, Wood does have his own explanation of why Ryan sees Wilfred. He just doesn't think that aligns with how Ryan sees the dog.

"I've kind of made my mind as to what I think Wilfred is. I don't know if that's reflective of what the character has decided," Wood says. "[Wilfred's] purpose is ultimately positive in that it's helping him. I don't know that Ryan has decided because I think he's clearly questioning, but I have an idea."

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So how long will "Wilfred" end up running on FX? Wood's hope is that the series doesn't outstay its welcome, and continues to provide stories worth telling to its audience.

"I think that the structure of the show that's been created is such that it's about a guy who's essentially in recovery and trying to figure out what that path in life is, and this manifestation of Wilfred has provided essentially a push for him to kind of figure that out. That can only last for so long," Wood says. "I think to believe that we are dealing with a man who is kind of struggling for answers to these questions and is in this existential questioning period of his life and is in recovery, I don't know that we can believe that for 10 seasons. I think to a certain degree there has to be a resolve or a move in a certain direction."

He adds, "I would hate to make the show kind of carry on for too long and not necessarily support what we've created."

To parallel the relationship between Wilfred and Ryan is the one between Wilfred and Bear. Though the stuffed animal Bear is seemingly just there for his comedic impact, Wood argues that his purpose is something much more significant.

"I think Bear is an important character for Wilfred. The fact that Wilfred has an independent relationship that is not reflective of his relationship with Ryan adds something to the show, and it adds something to Wilfred's own existence," Wood says. "We never get to see the outside perspective of Ryan talking to a dog, and in some ways we get to see what that perspective is slightly that Wilfred is talking to a stuffed animal that can't talk. It's kind of a mirror a little bit to the Wilfred/Ryan relationship from that outside perspective."

In real life, Wood once had the opportunity to climb inside costar Jason Gann's dog costume. It's something he would like to see also happen in the series as well.

"We talked about the idea of maybe doing a dream sequence," Wood says. "I love the idea of the tables being flipped a little bit and what if Ryan suddenly wakes up and sees himself as Wilfred. There's something there in his sort of exploration of what Wilfred is, essentially there's sort of a melding of the two. I don't know."

In terms of what's in store this season, Wood teases that his favorite scene comes in episode 3.

"In episode 3, the kind of caper aspect of that episode between Wilfred and Ryan sort of working together, that was experienced for sort of the first time this season and it was something that we all really loved. I love the idea of Ryan and Wilfred not only being in a combative relationship, but actually working towards something together, and it was a blast. It was really fun," he says. "I think it's something that we'd like to continue doing."

"Wilfred" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

Photo/Video credit: FX
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