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Interview: Fiona Gubelmann

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The hit FXX series Wilfred will begin its fourth and final season this Wednesday June 25th at 10pmEST. The series follows Ryan (Elijah Wood), who is a guy struggling to find his place in the world until he meets his neighbor Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) and her dog Wilfred (Jason Gann). Everyone else sees Wilfred as just an ordinary dog except for Ryan. Ryan sees an Australian guy in a grey dog suit who loves to smoke pot and cause mischief. The show has been a winner for the FXX network and one of the reasons for that success is the work of Fiona Gubelmann.

Fiona sat down with the Pop Culture Principle to talk about the journey her character has taken so far on the series, working with Elijah and Jason and what fans can look forward to in the final season. She also discusses how important the fans have been to the success of the series.

Pop Culture Principle – For those who haven’t seen the show, can you tell us what Wilfred is about?

Fiona Gubelmann – Wilfred is a dark comedy that is somewhat like a Calvin & Hobbs come to life type show. It’s basically a buddy comedy where Elijah Wood’s character Ryan sees his next door neighbor's dog as this big Australian dude in a grey dog suit. He can talk to him and go off on these crazy adventures while everyone else sees him just as a regular dog.

Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us about the interesting origin of the show?

Fiona Gubelmann – Jason Gann was hanging out with his friend who had just come home from a date and he was saying how the dog was looking at him weird. Jason started to pretend what the dog was saying and that turned into him being inspired to write a seven minute short.

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Pop Culture Principle – With the series getting ready to start its fourth and final season, have you enjoyed the journey your character has been on during the show so far?

Fiona Gubelmann – I’ve had a ball being on the show. There is a tendency in writing for female characters to make them two dimensional, especially the girl next door character. While Jenna definitely started out being very sweet and bubbly, over the years they have given her a lot of dark stuff. She’s definitely gone on a journey and I really like that they’ve made her a real person. She’s not perfect and they’ve really exposed her issues and really dug deep into them. Even though she’s got a good heart and at the bottom of it, she’s just like everyone else struggling and she’s not perfect; it’s refreshing and very cool to get to play a character like that.

Pop Culture Principle – At the end of Season 3, the relationship between Ryan and Jenna is very strained. Do you see it continuing that way in the final season or is there hope for the two of them to at least be friends again?

Fiona Gubelmann – Well, without giving too much away, they will definitely be interacting this season. I think their relationship as well as her relationship with Drew on all levels will be explored. Things will happen and it’s really exciting, surprising and it will be a lot of fun to see what happens between the three of them and their relationships.

Pop Culture Principle – There isn’t a show on television quite as quirky and dark as Wilfred, how has it been for you as an actor to be part of a show like that?

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Fiona Gubelmann – I’ve always had a very dark sense of humor. Part of it is that I think in life the only way to deal with tragedy is to find the humor in it. Laughter has always been something to help me deal with tough times. I’ve always been a fan of dark comedy and also a fan of comedies that are raw and honest. To me, that is the funniest stuff out there and that is why I am such a fan of this show. I’d love to see more stuff like that on TV. There are shows like Louie which I think is definitely dark and funny. So for me, the types of comedies I like tend to go in that direction.

Pop Culture Principle – The show seems to be more of a story about Ryan becoming a man than what Wilfred is or isn’t. Would you agree?

Fiona Gubelmann – Definitely! He has grown so much and especially through Season 4. He goes on a roller coaster ride in Season 4 as well as the rest of us. I think Jenna has grown as well. Initially she was the light and bubbly person. She was the one who was the opposite of Ryan and in a way an example of how he should live his life. As you get to know them better, you start to see her flaws and the way she runs away from her problems and the way she runs to people to help her solve her problems instead of fixing them and standing up for herself. I think the two of the have grown in the opposite direction.

Pop Culture Principle – Is there anything about your character Jenna that you would like to see explored in the final season of the series?

Fiona Gubelmann – I wish they had given Jenna more comedy and that just partially comes from the selfish actor who loves doing comedy. I think that was something that was initially there and a fun thing to see, but it kind of dissipated and I wish that would have been kept a little more. I’m very interested to see how certain things play out in terms of the rest of the season. I really want to see how some of her actions and decisions play out when it all comes together. You know, there are some things I wish they would have done with the character, but at the same time I don’t know if I am being influenced because I am such a fan of the show and/or just because I am frustrated with her. So, I think I can’t really make a full judgment on certain things until I see the way the series ends.

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Pop Culture Principle – What is it like working with Jason Gann and Elijah Wood?

Fiona Gubelmann – It was amazing. Jason is one of the funniest people I have ever met. He’s a comedic genius and one of my dear friends. Elijah is incredible and such a kind soul. He’s so talented and so intelligent. It was so much fun over the years as the Ryan and Jenna storyline progressed getting to know him better and getting to work with him one on one. I always felt like the little sister on set. I love them so much and have nothing but admiration for them both.

Pop Culture Principle – Why do you think this show connects with its very loyal fan base?

Fiona Gubelmann – For a show that has such a silly concept, it’s real, raw and honest. It’s a show that people who have pets or have had pets can relate to. It deals with issues that we all deal with and it really goes there. The characters are flawed and that is something that people can relate to. Not everyone is beautiful and perfect. I remember the director in Season 1, one of his notes to make-up was that he didn’t want people in Season 2 to suddenly look better than they did in Season 1. He didn’t like that fact that sometimes as a show progresses, the people start to look more and more beautiful and dress better and better. He wanted people to still look the same because they are real people. It’s nice because it takes the pressure off. You are not trying to be this idea of what people want and you really get to be yourself and expose the parts of yourself that relate to the character and what they are going through.

I also think that the show is so funny. It’s funny on so many different levels. It’s witty; it’s sarcastic with some slapstick. You have the ridiculous things that Wilfred can say and get away with so you can laugh on all these different levels. I meet people that are in their sixties who are fans and I meet kids who are too young to watch the show that are fans.

Pop Culture Principle – What can fans expect for the final season of Wilfred?

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Fiona Gubelmann – They can look forward to a lot of fun. The questions that they’ve had over the years will finally be answered. The fact that FX gave us a final season to do that and the writers really wrapped everything up is so cool. People are really going to like the way the show ends. I think the writers have done a fantastic job and as a fan I can’t wait to see it!

Pop Culture Principle – Will the cast be attending Comic-Con one last time?

Fiona Gubelmann – We were fortunate to get to go to Comic Con for the first three seasons, but unfortunately we won’t be going back this year and it breaks our hearts. Wilfred fans are the best and I say that over and over again. They are loyal, excited passionate fans who I think might know the show a little better than me, which is weird because I’ve seen every episode at least three of four times. Getting to interact with them, meet them and see how excited they are about the show is so much fun and such a joy.

Pop Culture Principle – Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

Fiona Gubelmann – I just worked on Key & Peele actually and that will be coming out this fall. I’m really excited about it and I am a huge fan of their work. I think it’s one of the best comedy sketch shows we’ve had on the air in years. I also have some other projects in the works, so we will see what happens. Stay tuned!

We would like to thank Fiona for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk with us. If you would like to keep up to date on any of her new projects, take a look at the links below.

LINKS

Official Fiona Gubelmann website

Official Fiona Gubelmann Twitter

Official Fiona Gubelmann Facebook page

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