Interview: Will Arnett From ‘Running Wilde’

We had the pleasure of chatting with Running Wilde star, Will Arnett. We chatted with Will about the series, Arrested Development, and more!

Check it out below!

It seems that you quit Wilde Oil in the third episode so is that it, the shows over, it’s a trilogy?

W. 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?

W. 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?

W. 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?

W. 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.

Can you 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.

W. 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?

W. 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?

W. 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?

W. 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.

We already know about the similarities between Steve and Will. What about Wilde and Bluth?

W. Arnett: I think that they’re not nearly as similar as people at first think. The character of Gob Bluth was very – he didn’t even really know how to interpret human emotions or human reactions. He was just completely oblivious to the entire world. Steve’s oblivious to how other people live but he’s very much cognoscente of who he is as a person. I think when we pick up the series he’s actually at a real crossroads in his life trying to figure out who he is and where he’s going to go. With Gob he was this misanthropic, totally out of touch being whose only raw emotion was that of looking for love in any way he could but that was about it, so I think Steve’s a little more developed.

What is it like in the Arnett/Poehler household? Is it a lot of joking around or is it more like you’re not so much like you’re on the same personalities?

W. Arnett: Well, I think that there’s for sure a lot of joking around but just as much as anybody in any household but, yes, we certainly like to goof around. I think it would be a lot more boring than people would think or maybe it’s just as boring as people think, I don’t know.

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?

W. 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?

W. 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 just how sad –

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?

W. 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?

W. 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?

W. 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.

Each week will we just see Steve in a misguided attempt at being selfless to where it doesn’t work for him?

W. 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.

How does the experience working on Running Wilde compare to that of Arrested Development‘s: Sit Down, Shut Up?

W. Arnett: For me, the experience has been a lot different because I’ve been involved since the genesis of the show. On Arrested Development and Running Wilde, I just came in as a hired gun, if you will. But both have this feeling of – when we we’re on Arrested Development we felt like we were the underdogs constantly trying to get ratings recognition. There was kind of a bunker mentality within the family of the show, the cast and the writers. Even though we did ultimately get a lot of critical recognition, we still never struck that ratings gold that allowed us to continue past our short run.

On this show, we’ve also got a similar bunker mentality where coming out of the gate we’ve had to get around a lot of obstacles and yet we’re finding our feet a little bit underneath us. I think that in spite of some of the comparisons that we’ve had to Arrested Development and in spite of people what I think has been a lot of really pretty unfair and almost I would dare say, lazy comparisons, in spite of that I feel like we’re starting to make good episodes. We’re all hunkering down and doing what we can. We’re just making a comedy to make people laugh. That’s it. We’re not making Arrested Development II and we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re just trying to let people enjoy themselves from 9:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

You obviously guested on Parks and Recreation as a creepy MRI technician. Any chance your lovely wife would be visiting you on Running Wilde?

W. 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?

W. Arnett: Absolutely. She could do whatever she wants. If she wants to come on and play a serial killer, we’ll figure it out.

You’ved mentioned the critics being lazy when they wrote about the pilot, did that frustrate you or did you expect that to happen?

W. 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.


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  1. Wow, great interview!! Thanks 🙂 I am watching Running Wilde for the first time right now, turned me into a fan of the show!! I love Will Arnett and Keri Russell!