Fiona Gubelmann & Chris Klein (Wilfred) Interview
Fiona Gubelmann, the actress who plays “Jenna” and Chris Klein, the actor who plays “Drew” in FX’s Wilfred series participated in a recent telephone interview with HereIsTV and spoke about what it’s like to work on what is, in our opinion, one of the stranger shows on television (we say that in a good way) and, specifically, tonight’s episode, Heroism. Below is a slightly edited version of that conversation.
HereIsTV: What do you continue to find challenging about these roles?
Fiona: The fact that it’s constantly changing. We shoot our show out of order, so sometime we’ll be getting scripts for the end of the season without having read scripts from earlier in the season. It can be a challenge just trying to figure out and track your storyline. Luckily, [our] writers, and director, Randall Einhorn, are great and able to guide us and help us answer any questions that we might have.
Chris: Besides the fact that it’s a whole heck of a lot of fun every spring when I have an opportunity to be a part of this show, the writers and the creators and the director, Randall Einhorn, are really very hands-on, incredibly creative people that have a very, very clear, concise vision of what they want this show to be. They really, really do a wonderful job of communicating that to the cast.
HereIsTV: Was it instant chemistry when you guys began working together or did it take a bit of time for you all to develop that?
Chris: I fell in love with Fiona immediately.
Fiona: Working with Chris has been an absolute pleasure. He is just such a sweetheart. We’re always cracking each other up and sometimes it’ll be hard because he’s just so much fun to talk to and then all of sudden we have to do a serious scene. But it’s a blast; I treasure all our scenes together.
HereIsTV: The “Heroism” episode is a kind of turning point for some of the characters. Do you think viewers will look back on this episode as a pivotal one for the season?
Fiona: Yes. I think not only a pivotal one for the season, but a pivotal one for the series. The last two episodes of the season change everything for everybody. The world, as we know it, is just never going to be the same in terms of the relationships for the characters, between ‘Jenna’ and ‘Ryan,’ ‘Jenna’ and ‘Drew,’ even ‘Wilfred’ and ‘Ryan.’ Everything is about to change. I think it’s really exciting.
Chris: Fiona said it best. I’ll leave it there.
HereIsTV: Chris, do you think ‘Drew’ purposely puts ‘Ryan’ in these uncomfortable situations to mess with him, or is it just as a means to an end to get what he wants?
Chris: Oh, man, I really think to give ‘Drew’ that much credit would be a gross overestimation of his manipulation skills. ‘Drew’ is in love with ‘Jenna,’ and he’s doing his thing. He’s the next door neighbor. Though we find him as an antagonist in this show every once and a while, I really believe, too, in terms of being self calculating, I think you’ll find that much more next door with ‘Wilfred’ and ‘Ryan.’
Fiona: I agree with that.
HereIsTV: ‘Wilfred’ challenges ‘Ryan’ and teaches him things in his own obscure and diabolical way, perhaps causing viewers to stop and reflect on their own life. I’m curious, since you both are a part of the show, did ‘Wilfred’ teach you any lessons about life?
Fiona: Don’t get stoned with a dog?
Chris: To take life lessons from ‘Wilfred’ or the actor that plays him, Jason Gann, would be a cautionary tale, to say the least.
Fiona: I think the one thing that the show has really impressed upon me is about taking responsibility for yourself and your actions and what you really want. With ‘Jenna,’ I think she doesn’t always do that. I think that that’s a flaw that I can relate to and many people can relate to. I like that the show is this exploration of ‘Ryan’ and what he needs. For me, it’s just been standing up for myself and really vocalizing what I need and what I want and communicating that to people.
Chris: I think that’s really well said. I really appreciate the close of every episode where we get to take a step back and just watch a man hang out with his dog. For me, as somebody who understands that relationship, having a dog myself, being a pet owner, Jason and Elijah [Wood] do a really groovy job of explaining that relationship. In the show when they’re going through what they’re going through, it makes it easier for me to understand because of those moments on the couch.
HereIsTV: You’ve both been involved with the show since Season 1. Now that Season 3 is almost at a close, what stands out to you about this current crop of episodes, in particular, that was somehow different or meaningful to you?
Fiona: The moment in episode twelve, actually, in “Heroism,” that really, really touched me was right after ‘Ryan’ rescues ‘Wilfred.’ When he’s talking about wanting to protect ‘Jenna’ and wanting to take care of her, and he’s really reflecting upon the issues that she’s actually having and going through, and you realize how much ‘Wilfred’ really cares and loves her. Then you see ‘Ryan’ have that moment.
I was so touched when I saw that, and I just felt the love from ‘Wilfred’ and I felt the love from ‘Ryan,’ just watching that as a viewer. Then a few minutes later, when you see ‘Jenna’ and ‘Ryan’ on the couch, and ‘Jenna’ sees ‘Ryan,’ I think for the first time, and sees how much he really cares for her. The last five minutes are so beautiful when you see the love between those three characters and how much they care for each other. That was just one of the most touching moments for me, so far.
Chris: This particular crop of episodes really, really dives into that ‘Wilfred’-‘Ryan’-‘Jenna’ triangle in such a beautiful way and explains to us as audience members, we get to really see how touched all three of them are. That’s a really, really cool thing, and something that, as a fan of this show, I’ve been waiting to see more of, as well, ever since the first season when we got our first glimpse of it.
HereIsTV: This show has a lot of messages and means a lot of different things to different people. When people come up to you, fans, what do they usually say it means to them? Do they tell you something about the show or your characters that really touches you and you know you’ve done your job great and the show was done great?
Fiona: Honestly, this is all still, after three years, so new to me that anytime someone actually comes up to me and says that they’re a fan of the show and that they love the show, for whatever reason, it just means the world to me. I just get so excited.
I love when I see people Tweeting pictures of their Wilfred birthday cake, or dressed up as ‘Wilfred.’ I still can’t believe it; it’s just so surreal. I think all the fans there and all the love and support that we get is so touching and overwhelming. That, as a whole, is what I am so touched by and love.
Chris: This group of fans, this group of Wilfred fans are really, really, really cool. They’re way cooler than I am, and in a lot of ways a heck of a lot smarter than me, too. I’m always so grateful to be a part of this show and play the part that I do, because fans of the show respond to it and they think it’s funny.
But what I get the most from people who appreciate the show is they always ask me what is going on over there? What in the world is going on, I can’t take my eyes away from this? That’s really a testament to the writers and the creators and a lot of what Elijah Wood and Jason Gann and the director, Randall Einhorn, bring to the show.
HereIsTV: When you’re not busy shooting the show and watching it, what other shows do you like to watch?
Fiona: For me it’s what shows do I not watch? Chris knows that my favorite show is Game of Thrones. Absolutely a huge fan of that. Breaking Bad is another one of my all time favorites. I’m enjoying these last few episodes right now. Recently I watched House of Cards, the new Netflix series, and that was phenomenal, and Orange is the New Black, as well. I was very impressed with both those series.
Chris: I ran through House of Cards in a hurry. That, to me, is the best television show I’ve seen in a long time. I’m a big fan of Homeland and I really, really, really appreciate The Newsroom a heck of a lot. My very guilty pleasure and one that I really can’t wait for it to come back on ABC is Nashville. I’m a huge fan of country music and Nashville, to me, is just a fantastic escape.
Fiona: I forgot about Homeland, there. I love Homeland. That’s another one of my favorites.
HereIsTV: On a lot of other shows, a couple like ‘Jenna’ and ‘Drew’ would be – let’s just say it plain out – they’d be broken up long ago because they’re just so completely mismatched. Would you speak to the development of this odd couple who do love each other, but in the context of the show just seem so wrong? Maybe get some thoughts on how you approached the role, the couple, when you were starting to get into it.
Fiona: Okay. I don’t think it’s necessarily that ‘Jenna’ and ‘Drew’ are so mismatched and so wrong for each other. I think they’ve been together a long time, since their early 20’s, and I think that they love each other very much and they’ve just grown apart. I think they’ve definitely grown apart and are wanting different things in life. But I don’t necessarily think they’re, I hate to say that they’re so mismatched and so wrong for each other.
I think in life, you meet someone, you fall in love, and then as you grow older you want different things. That happens a lot and to many people. It’s hard to be with someone that you have a history with, that you care so much for, and then to have the strength to walk away from that is very difficult.
Chris: I think Fiona’s exactly right. Let’s remember, when we first met ‘Jenna,’ we learned that she’s from Wisconsin and she’s moved to the big city, and she does the news and she’s into her life. ‘Drew’s’ still back home and we don’t meet him till later.
There’s no question in my mind that the character of ‘Drew’ is blindly in love, in a very young, country boy way. And Fiona’s right, with that, people grow and people move on. When they grow at different rates, it becomes very, very difficult for the person who’s kind of taking some steps outside of the box.