Will Arnett Interview: New Fox Comedy “Running Wilde”

By Fred Topel

HollywoodNews.com: Arrested Development’s Will Arnett is back on TV in a show he stars in and co-created with Mitch Hurwitz. He plays Steven Wilde, a spoiled rich brat who’s trying to impress his childhood sweetheart, Emmy (Keri Russell) in the Fox comedy. It’s not too late to get in. They’re only in their third week. Arnett spoke with the media in a conference call on Monday. “Running Wilde” airs Tuesdays at 9:30 on Fox.

Q: As you’re working with Mitch Hurwitz on the show, do you ever think, “This is nice, but Mitch, could you get to work on that Arrested Development movie too?”

WA: 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 the show right now but it is something we absolutely look forward to doing?

Q: How have you found the comedy rhythm of Running Wilde?

WA: It’s its own animal or beast as you call it. It’s something that we’re finding as we go. It’s kind of new for us. We’re telling a romantic story within a comedy so we’re just figuring it out and I feel like every week we get better and better at telling the story about these people.

Q: How do you relate to Steve?

WA: I think that there are certain things I can relate to. I am not a billionaire. I did not grow up one. I certainly had to work my whole life. I think I’ve observed characters like Steve. I had the opportunity to see people like that. At the heart of it, there is one aspect I hope I am like. I think he’s a very generous guy on a personal level. That’s what we keep trying to get out there. He seems like this obnoxious rich playboy. On a personal level he’s a really good guy. I don’t know how many real similarities there are. I think that if anything, I think there’s a childishness about Steve that I’m sure I have. I’m sure there are people who probably think I could grow up more. I don’t take a lot of things all that seriously so in that way, Steve and I are very similar. I approach each day thinking that I’d like it to be a fun experience as much as I can. Now Steve has a lot more options at his disposal because he’s this insane billionaire so in that way we’re very unalike.

Q: Will Steven ever grow up?

WA: 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 kind of be a kid at heart.

Q: What are the similarities between Steven Wilde and Gob?

WA: I think they’re not nearly as similar as people at first think. The character of Gob Bluth was very unaware of he didn’t really know how to interpret human emotions and human reactions. Steve’s oblivious to how other people live but he’s very much cognizant of who he is. When you pick up the series, I think he’s at a real crossroads in his life. With Gob he was kind of this misanthropic totally out of touch being who’s only sort of raw emotion was that of looking for love in any way he could but that was about it. So I think Steve is a little more developed.

Q: How funny is your household with Amy Poehler?

WA: I think for sure there’s a lot of joking around but just as much as anybody in any household. We certainly like to goof around but I think it would be a lot more boring than people think, or maybe it’s just as boring as people think.

Q: How did you know you would have such great chemistry with Keri Russell?

WA: We didn’t really know each other at all before we started and shot the pilot. Once we started working on the reshoots of the pilot in August we knew each other a little bit more and hung out. She and her husband had had dinner with her husband and my wife. Once we got to know each other more it became easier. That’s what you never count on. You write this about people who don’t like each other and then fall in love but there’s this other element you have to take into account which is the two leads. We never really thought about it but it ended up now we’re really finding what works for us.

Q: How does your experience with “Running Wilde” compare to “Arrested Development?”

WA: For me the experience has been a lot different because I’ve been involved since the genesis of the show. On “Arrested” I just came on as a hired gun if you will. On “Arrested” we felt we were the underdogs constantly just trying to get ratings recognition so there was kind of a bunker mentality with the cast and writers. Even though we got critical recognition, we never struck that ratings gold. On this show we’ve also got a similar bunker mentality. Coming out of the gate we’ve had to get around a lot of obstacles and yet we’re kind of finding our feet beneath us. In spite of the comparisons that we’ve had to “Arrested Development” and in spite of people what I think has been really pretty unfair and I would dare say lazy comparisons, in spite of that I feel like we’re starting to make good episodes. We’re all kind of 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 2,” we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re just trying to let people enjoy themselves from 9:30 to 10.

Q: Why do you think people are tuning in?

WA: I think in “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 make it fun and light and we’re also trying to tell the story of these people falling in a love in a way that’s a little unorthodox. Hopefully at the end of the day, it’s a real escape from the world we live in. It’s a fun escapist show.

Q: Did the critics frustrate you or was that something you expected?

WA: Totally expected it. Not even really frustrating. It was expected and it was disappointing I guess more than anything. To tell the truth, what ended up happening, it seemed the response from fans and online and through social networking sites like Twtiter and Facebook was so encouraging because we found that so many of the responses were like, “Wow, the guy in my town newspaper wrote that this show is not as good as Arrested Development and I really enjoyed it.” That was 75% of the responses. That was probably the greatest part of it all. The final pilot that actually 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 turned out well. Sure there were reshot elements to it but people do that all the time. I thought it was a really great pilot so I stand by that. It always seems I’m being defensive about it. I’m not. I’m being open about it. I just want to talk about the elephant in the room. Watch the episodes. They’re funny.

Q: As a cowriter, is it easier to write for a character you know you’re going to be playing?

WA: It was challenging because you spend half your time thinking oh, maybe I should do this, maybe I should do that. I was so lucky to have such a great coconspirator in Mitch Hurwitz and Jim Vallely, to say if I want to do this, “Well, I know that seems like a really funny thing for you to say, but it doesn’t really tell the story.” So it was very illuminating.

Q: Do you think we’ll ever see Amy Poehler on “Running Wilde?”

WA: I sure hope so. She would be very, very welcome and we’d love to have her. So yeah, I think there’s a distinct possibility of that happening.

Q: What would you like her to play?

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

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