One of the ongoing mysteries in FX’s unique dramedy Wilfred (Thursdays, 10/9C) is that of the marriage of Jenna and Drew. At first glance, they seem to be an obvious mismatch, but when Fiona Gubelmann and Chris Klein spoke with a group of bloggers/journalists on Friday, as well as touching on other topics, they revealed a very different take on their characters’ relationship.
A teaser for tomorrow night’s episode, Heroism, accompanies the interview after the jump.
I was wondering, what can you guys tell us that you continue to find challenging about these roles?
Fiona Gubelmann: I think what I continue to find challenging is just the fact that it’s constantly changing. We shoot our show out of order, so sometimes we’ll be getting scripts for the end of the season without having read scripts from earlier in the season. I think that can be a challenge just trying to figure out and track your storyline. Luckily, we have such great writers, and our director, Randall Einhorn, and they’re really great and able to really guide us and help us answer any questions that we might have.
Chris Klein: I really agree with Fiona. 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.
Was it instant chemistry when you guys began working together or did it take a bit of time for you all to develop that?
Klein: I fell in love with Fiona immediately.
Gubelmann: 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.
… episode “Heroism” is fun. I think it’s kind of turning point for some of the characters. Without going too much into spoiler territory, do you guys think viewers will look back on this episode as a pivotal one for the season?
Gubelmann: Yes. I think not only a pivotal one for the season, but a pivotal one for the series. I think that the last two episodes of the season change everything for everybody. I think 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.
Klein: Fiona said it best. I’ll leave it there.
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?
Klein: 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.
Gubelmann: I agree with that.
One of the most compelling aspects that has always made Wilfred a great show for me are the life lessons within. 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?
Gubelmann: Don’t get stoned with a dog?
Klein: To take life lessons from Wilfred or the actor that plays him, Jason Gann, would be a cautionary tale, to say the least.
Gubelmann: I’m trying to think… I think the one thing that the show has really impressed upon be is just standing up and – I’m trying to think of a way to word this. To me, it’s 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.
Klein: 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 really explaining that relationship. For me, 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.
Since you’ve both been involved with the show since Season 1, now Season 3 is almost drawn to a close, what stands out to you about this current crop of episodes, in particular, that was somehow different or meaningful to you?
Gubelmann: The moment in episode twelve, actually, in Heroism, that really, really touched me was right after (Spoiler, sorry!). 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.
Klein: I really agree with Fiona. In all three seasons, 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.
This question is for Chris, because I’ve asked this to Fiona before. I’m calling on the behalf of my university, so if you could teach a college course, what would you teach? It could be something that already exists or one of your creation.
Klein: Wow, what college course would I teach? That’s pretty awesome. What college course would I teach? Fiona, what did you teach?
Gubelmann: Mine was really cheesy. But I said I would like to teach a course on teaching people just to love themselves, like a self-esteem type course. An appreciation of oneself.
Klein: Oh, that’s cool. That’s pretty cool. I think if I was to teach a course, I suppose it would have to be a subject that I knew something about. You know what, actually, after – and this is going to sound nerdy, so you’re going to have to forgive me – but after reading the, I believe it was, the July issue of National Geographic Explorer, I am now a super duper expert on the solar system. So I would go ahead and teach new age astronomy, and the title of the class would be New Age Astronomy: This is Not Your Newton’s Solar System.
I’d take that class, for sure.
Klein: If you signed up for that, you would be out a lot of money because I’ve got nothing to share.
This show means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It has a lot of great messages, and stuff, but it 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?
Gubelmann: 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.
Klein: 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. I get a lot of cool … from these cool fans, which stokes me out pretty good.
I’m wondering, though, when you’re not busy shooting the show and watching it, what other shows do you like to watch?
Gubelmann: 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.
Cool, thank you. And Chris?
Klein: For me – what am I watching these days? 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.
Gubelmann: I forgot about Homeland, there. I love Homeland. That’s another one of my favorites.
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. My question is could 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.
Gubelmann: Do you want me to start, or do you want to start, Chris?
Klein: Go ahead, please.
Gubelmann: 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.
I think that’s where we find them. Do you have more to that question that I’m not answering? I feel like you did.
So you’re saying inertia has set in?
Klein: 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.
To circle back to my first question about Wilfred’s life lessons, some people could argue that his approach was right and some could argue that it was wrong. For the both of you, which is worse: doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, or doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, like Wilfred?
Gubelmann: Doing the right thing –
Klein: I’ve never known an example where the right thing could be for the wrong reasons.
Gubelmann: … example for that.
Klein: I know what it’s about to do the wrong thing for the right reasons, but I’m not sure the right thing for the wrong reasons. … if it’s the right thing, it’s the right thing.
Gubelmann: The right things for the wrong – I’m trying to think of an example in my life when I’ve done either of those. When have I done the right thing for the wrong reason?
I guess maybe doing the wrong thing for the right reason is better because you may have to hurt someone to ultimately help them, and that comes from a place of love. Versus doing something to help someone and you’re not doing it for the right reasons.
I think truth, I guess, is one of the most important things. So if you’re doing things for false reasons, then what you’re doing may have no actual meaning or validity to it.
Klein: I think you just unraveled that incredibly well.
Gubelmann: I love you.
Klein: I think what we’re talking about, here, is tough love, the kind of tough love that we see Wilfred give Ryan in almost every episode. Tough love is one of the most beautiful things that you can give your partner or your friends or your family. It’s one of the hardest things that you can do for somebody, but ultimately, usually, one of the best things you can do for somebody and everybody comes out the other end happy that you made that decision.
Gubelmann: I think that’s a beautiful answer.
Klein: You started it.
Gubelmann: Oh, Chris.
Photos by Michael Becker and Prashant Gupta/Courtesy of FX