The dog days of summer officially begin June 20 with the third season premier of Wilfred, television's cult hit on FX. Aussie Jason Gann is the show’s originator/writer/lead actor who embodies Wilfred, a cantankerous lug in a dog suit who drinks beer, smokes pot and humps a giant teddy bear. The show ran for 16 episodes in Australia before jumping stateside. We spoke to Wilfred’s alter ego between takes recently.
How are you?
I’m good thanks. We’re three days into shooting the new season. I can’t say much plot-wise but we’re trying to get just the right mix of psychological and strange darkness.
Have a dog?
I don’t currently have a dog, I felt that it would be disloyal to Wilfred, but it might be time. I’ve always enjoyed their … humanness.
Is it tough getting into character?
I think it’s the power of suggestion … simply putting on the dog suit and nose does the trick.
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Where’d the idea for Wilfred come from?
I was staying with a friend of mine, and he was telling me about coming home with a girl on a date, to her place and her dog looked at him like … what are you going to do to my missus? I just started to improvise on a conversation. A week later we made a short film, it became a hit on the festival circuit, including Sundance. The Australian television series followed, and now our current U.S. show.
Surprised by the show’s success?
What surprises me is how much we’ve gotten away with—loads more than we thought possible! Wilfred is both angel and demon. His character has that dark edge where he can do doggy, base destructive things that a human character couldn’t get away with on TV.
Do you have many doggy encounters?
We were filming and I was outside on the steps in front of the house, and this guy goes past walking his dog, and I turned around and when his dog saw me, he literally pissed himself, couldn’t believe what he was seeing … dog-man-god, he’s still having flashbacks, and telling all his mates. Or, I’ll be at the counter at the store, and somebody’s dog will be going crazy, jumping on me and stuff … and people say to the dog “what are you doing? You’re never like this …” I go “No, it’s OK, I’m Wilfred …”
How would you sum up Wilfred’s philosophy on life?
Act first, think later. Basically, trust your instincts.
Look for the new season of Wilfred on FX June 20.