Will Arnett stars in the new Fox series Running Wilde, which will air its third episode tonight, Tuesday, October 5 at 9:30 PM ET. The actor recently held a conference call to discuss the series and here's what he had to say:
It seems that you quit Wilde Oil in the third episode so is that it, the shows over, it's a trilogy?
Will Arnett: Yes, it does seem that way although as it turns out, like the mob, you can't quit Wilde Oil.
Especially when you're named Wilde, right?
Will Arnett: Right. You can't ever get out.
As you're working on this show with Mitch is there any part of you that's like, so this is good but can you do some work on that Arrested Development movie, too?
Will Arnett: No, it is something that we talk about all the time, for sure and it is something that Mitch is working on, but we're so in deep with this show right now. It is something that we absolutely look forward to doing.
How have you guys found the rhythm of the comedy of Running Wilde so far?
Will Arnett: It's its own animal or beast or whatever you want to call it and we've been, it's something that we're finding as we go, I think Mitch had alluded earlier this summer to the fact that this is something that's kind of new for us what we're doing. We're telling a romantic story within a comedy and we're just figuring that out but I feel like every week we get better and better at telling the story of these two people.
I was actually wondering if you could talk a little bit about how the dynamic between Steve and Puddle may grow throughout the season because it started, he seems to be the quintessential man-child with her as a precocious kid but she seems to become more of a kid as it goes on.
Will Arnett: Well, yes. I think that in a lot of ways those two characters - Steve and Puddle - are the most similar in that they both grew up in protected environments, bubble like environments, if you will. Puddle growing up in the Amazon, Steve growing up in this sort of gated world. Now, that she's moved back to the states she's really becoming a kid again for the first time. Steve is forced to become somewhat more responsible. I think he really likes Puddle so he is filling the role of male parent in the way the character of Andy Weeks, whose Emmy's fiancé can't really do. She's helping him grow up in a lot of ways and he's allowing her to be a kid for the first time because her mom never really did that. She never really had a chance to be a kid.
I talked to Keri a few weeks ago and she said she didn't really think she was that much like her character. Do you find that you relate to Steve in any ways?
Will Arnett: I think that there are certain things that I can relate to. I did not and am not a billionaire. I did not grow up one. I certainly had to work my whole life but I think I've observed characters like Steve. I had the opportunity to see people like that. But at the heart of it there is one aspect that I hope that I am like Steve which is I think he's actually a very generous guy on a personal level in a lot of ways. That's the thing that we keep trying to get out there, which is even though he seems like this obnoxious rich, cad, playboy on a personal level he's a really good guy.
You're the co-writer, actor, executive producer, which one do you enjoy doing the most?
Will Arnett: I'm new to the other two. I'm probably the most comfortable just being an actor but I'm finding it to be immensely interesting filling, playing the other two roles of writer and executive producer. It's turning out to be a tremendous amount of work but it's very gratifying. What you end up doing is you end up really kind of-in a way you can't believe it but you're even more invested in the project, which makes you very sort of protective and defensive about the project. You feel like, "This is my baby," if you will. I'm finding that I'm really invested in this.
Will Steven Wilde ever grow up?
Will Arnett: I don't know if he'll ever fully grow up. Maybe he'll have all the dressings of it but I think he'll always be a kid at heart.
I'm a big fan of British comedies, so I was pleased when I turned to the pilot to see Peter Serafinowicz in the show. Was he someone you were familiar with before or maybe you had in mind for he part?
Will Arnett: Yes, we actually wrote the part of Shaoulin for Peter. I'm very familiar with his work. He's a good friend of mine for a few years. I just think that he's got such a funny, interesting, original comedic voice and so I really wanted him to take part of the show. We've been actively looking to try and figure out how we could work together on something and so what better way than to just write him into the show and that's what we did. He's just been absolutely hilarious.
He also plays sort of jerky characters so it's nice to see him play someone whose not. He and Steve are fairly similar, too. They're both rich and out of touch and seem somewhat lonely. Are we going to get more insight into their relationship as the show moves forward?
Will Arnett: I think so. One of the functions of the Fa'ad character is to almost be the extreme version of Steve in a way. In much the same way that Niles was an extreme version of Frasier and it sort of pushes Steve more into the middle for the audience. You can see that they both, you're right, they both do live this very lonely existence and that's one of the things that we wanted to examine. When we were first talking about doing this show actually I was talking to Mitch about the idea of these people and this life and how lonely that must be. We originally had the show started with Steve on the verge of committing suicide and deciding not to do it. I know that seems kind of dark but that was because we really wanted to explore that and yes, that is something we'd like to get into further in the series.
This is really Keri Russell's first comedic venture. She said that she feels like she's just tagging along with you and your cool friends. Is there really a learning curve that she's dealing with or is she just being modest?
Will Arnett: Well, I think it's a little bit of both. She is, by nature, a very modest person but I will say for someone who hasn't done any comedy she's really-and I don't mean this in any patronizing way and I hope it doesn't come across that way-but that she's just-every week it just seems to be finding her groove comedically more and more and more. I feel like her task is very difficult. We're asking her to hit a very narrow target and also subject herself to a tremendous amount of criticism and being held up also against the legacy of Arrested Development along with us, which is tough enough for us but even harder for her being a newcomer and a newcomer to comedy. I think that a lot of people have been really unfair towards her because I think she's just been terrific.
You seem to have a great comedic chemistry together. Was that something that came naturally?
Will Arnett: Yes, we didn't really know each other at all before we started to do the pilot. We shot the pilot and once we started working on the reshoots of the pilot in August, we knew each other a little bit more, we'd hung out. She and her husband had dinner with myself and my wife. Once we got to know each other a little bit more it became much easier and that's the thing that you never really count on. You write this thing and you think, "Okay, we'll go and do this." Then writing these two characters, they'll get along and then it occurred, just like, oh well- There's this other element that you have to take into account, which is the chemistry between the two leads. We never really thought about it but it ended up now that we're really finding what works for us.
Why do you think people want to take their time to tune in and watch Running Wilde?
Will Arnett: Because I think that with Running Wilde you get a little bit of everything. It's a show where we're trying as hard as we can to fill it full of jokes and to make it fun and light . We're also trying to tell the story of these two people falling in love in the way that they are which is a little unorthodox. Hopefully, at the end of the day it's a real escape from the world we live in. It's just a fun escapist show.
What's the experience like co-writing for Running Wilde, especially co-writing the pilot?
Will Arnett: It was a very illuminating experience for me and you realize what goes into writing a comedy script. It's a very delicate balance between constantly tell the story and fill it full of jokes. It's been very, very gratifying. When it's all said and done you feel like, "Wow, okay." After you've written the script and then you shoot it and you act in it you think, "Wow, I did something today."
Do you think it was easy or more challenging to write for a role that you knew that you would be portraying?
Will Arnett: It was challenging because you spend half your time thinking about maybe I should do this or maybe I should do that. I was so lucky to have such a great co-conspirator or co-conspirator plural in Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Valley to say, "Yes, I want to do this," and they say, "Well, I know that that seems like a really funny thing for you to say, but does it really tell the story?" So it was very illuminating.
Will Arnett: I sure hope so. She would be very, very welcome and we'd love to have her. So, yes, I think there's a distinct possibility of that happening.
Any brainstorms within the household of what kind of part she would play if that could be worked out with all the contracts and schedules?
Will Arnett: Absolutely. She could do whatever she wants. If she wants to come on and play a serial killer, we'll figure it out.
Each week will we just see Steve in a misguided attempt at being selfless to where it doesn't work for him?
Will Arnett: No, that's not the goal. The goal is to really hopefully eventually tell a story that shows who this, that tells the story of these two people coming together. Within the context of that there will be episodes where you see Steve trying to be selfless but they're will be episodes where he'll have other goals, whether its his complicated relationship with Fa'ad or his desire to break free from his fathers shadow or we have an episode where he's dealing with his stepmom arrives back on the scene and he's desperately trying to get her out of the picture and she's trying to turn his life upside-down. All of this with the idea that his objective is to get Emmy to live with him in the house because she's really the only person he's ever been truly in love with and that's what we'll see and we'll tell the stories along the way. We have a lot of episodes that live on their own that are big, funny, comedy episodes that are coming up that don't tell any of those stories.
When you mentioned a minute ago about the critics being lazy when they wrote about the pilot, did that frustrate you or did you expect that to happen?
Will Arnett: Totally expected it. Finding it not really frustrating it was just expected and it was disappointing, I guess, more than anything. To tell the truth, what ended up happening was the response it seemed like the response from fans and online and through various social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook or whatever was so encouraging because we found that so many of the responses were like, "Wow, the guy in my town in the newspaper wrote that this show was not as good as Arrested Development and I really enjoyed it." That was 75% of the respondents and that was probably the greatest part of it all. I think that when we look at the final pilot that aired on September 21st as a standalone pilot compared to other pilots that were out there, by no means was it anything that we should feel bad about. In fact, I thought it was a really great pilot and it turned out quite well and sure there were reshot elements to it but people do that all the time and I thought it was a really great pilot so I stand by that.
Speaking of the romantic aspect of the show, I was wondering a little more about what kind of stories you're going to tell in that context?
Will Arnett: One of the things is Steve has to deal with the fact, what's kind of complicated is the fact that Emmy, she's not just this one dimensional character whose back and she wants to be with Steve, too, but he's got to change his tune and then it will be fine. She's engaged to a guy in a very real way and in a lot of ways it's kind of shitty what she's doing if you think about it. Here she is engaged to the Andy Weeks character and yet she's essentially moved in with this other guy with whom she used to have a relationship. It's very complicated so we're going to tell that story. We have an episode coming up in two weeks where we go back and tell the story of how Steve and Emmy were going to the prom together and then they weren't allowed to be there together. We tell this story of Puddle going to a school dance and how she's faced with a similar situation and through that we discover what happened with Steve and Emmy years ago. So we have that. We're going to have-I don't know if you heard us mention-we have Steve's stepmom coming back. We have all these different ways of getting back into this story and there's a lot of different sides to it. Also, I think that Steve and Puddle are going to grow to be a lot closer, too, so that adds another dimension to it. You have this guy, Steve's in essence becoming a father like figure to Puddle, for better or for worse, by the way, because who knows if he's the best role model. I think that we're surrounding this story a little bit from all, telling little pieces of the story as we go.
In the dance episode, is that you and Keri playing your young selves or the younger actors?
Will Arnett: What it is, is it's really Puddle and this young boy playing. It really mirrors what had happened to us when as we were younger. Then Steve gets an opportunity to go and tell this boy who's supposedly not allowed to go to the dance with Puddle because the dad has said that Puddle is this kid who grew up in the Amazon and she's not rich and she's not in the same social stature. Steve, now realizing that his dad was wrong so many years ago when he forbid him from being with Emmy, goes and confronts this kids dad-the boys dad, played by Andy Richter. What ends up happening is the guy misinterprets Steve, as Steve talks about not holding people back who are in love and all this kind of thing. The guy misinterprets it and thinks that Steve's coming on to him. The guy turns out is secretly gay, the Andy Richter character. He, Steve, at the same time really, as the guy really comes on to Steve, Steve misinterprets that as being fatherly affection and it's very much a Mitchell Hurwitz story. Things get very complicated.