Exclusive

Exclusive: Allison Mack on Her Post-Smallville Plan and How Wilfred Led Her Back to TV

The following contains mild spoilers from Thursday night’s “special preview” of Wilfred Season 2.

Ryan Newman, the forever-beleaguered protagonist of FX’s Wilfred, has a super new woman in his life: work colleague Amanda, played by Smallville alum Allison Mack.

Though Mack was only glimpsed in the off-kilter comedy’s Season 2 “special preview” on Thursday  — in which Ryan realized that Wilfred the talking, toking dog (played by Jason Gann) is in fact real — rest assured that Amanda will make quite an impression in the weeks to come, appearing in a total of eight episodes.

With the FX series marking Mack’s return to TV one year since Clark Kent went up, up and away, TVLine caught up with her to discuss life after Chloe, what it was that got her sniffing around Wilfred and “reuniting” with two Smallville costars in primetime.

TVLINE | I know you peeled away in the middle of Season 10, but what was your larger attack plan for life post-Smallville? What did you set out to do?
You know, I wasn’t super-sure. I had been on the show for so long, and before that I had just been acting for so long, that I really wanted to give myself some time to regroup. That is why I took the year off and did theater, and really focused on building myself as a person and as an actress. As I was coming out of that “cave,” I decided that I wanted to continue to do work that I felt proud of. So as of late, I’ve been looking for projects that are challenging, exciting and inspiring, projects that I think are deep, projects that are something I would watch…. It was really cool for me when I got Wilfred, because I literally was cast in this a year from when Smallville ended.

TVLINE | So why Wilfred and the role of Ryan’s “borderline hot” — as Amanda herself jokingly puts it — coworker for your return to TV?
Yes, obviously I am “borderline hot.” [Laughs] The idea of working with Elijah Wood was really appealing to me. He’s done amazing things, and he’s also been in this business forever, so I felt close to him even though I didn’t know him. And in my ideal career, I’d love to continue to work on a show that is 13 episodes-a-season, is somewhat off-color and pushes boundaries, and then do theater and film the rest of the year. So when this opportunity came along to have a recurring role on a very edgy, very smart cable show, it was exactly what I had seen for myself. On top of that, there aren’t a whole lot of female characters that are written in a way that is intelligent and independent, and honest and humble. A lot of the characters out there for my age group are a little less “full.” Amanda is unique in that she wasn’t a slut, even though she jokes about it. She’s smart and quirky and avant-garde. I like that. I like playing smart women.

TVLINE | Is she the pursuer here? Is Ryan ever going to succumb to her?
Well, you’ll have to wait and see, wont you? [Laughs]

TVLINE | Because he does have some baggage with Wilfred’s owner Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann).
He does, yeah. But the great thing about the Ryan character that Elijah plays so well is his endless innocence and optimism. We continue to see that throughout the season.

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TVLINE | You have a lot of scenes with Wilfred. Is Amanda a dog person?
She’s not, no — and you see that, which is fun.

TVLINE | Talk about acting in a scene with Jason Gann in the dog costume.
[Laughs] You just have to believe it. It’s easier, believe it or not, when he’s in the dog suit, because it doesn’t feel as strange to scratch a man behind his fake dogs ears than it does to scratch a man behind his real ears. And you know what, I did 10 years of pretending little green tennis balls were monsters coming at me [on Smallville], so I’m pretty good at using my imagination.

TVLINE | Her inclination to “have sex with whomever is in the men’s room” aside, is Amanda’s quirky demeanor closer to your own than Chloe’s ever was?
Very much so. I mean, Amanda and Chloe are similar in that they’re both very smart, which I like. But Amanda is definitely more uncomfortable in the relationships she has with the people around her. I can definitely relate to her in that way. It’s funny, when we were filming the [“sex in the men’s room”] scene you’re talking about, Randall Einhorn, our fantastic director, kept saying, “Not so cool, Allison. Not so flirty. Not so cool. Be a little less together.” And I was like, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?! I feel like a spaz! What am I doing that’s ‘cool’?”

TVLINE | So with a 13-episode cable series, you’d be game for another regular TV gig?
Absolutely. The thing about Smallville and the reason I left early wasn’t because I didn’t like the show; I think it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given as an actress, and it’s something I will forever be grateful for. But one of the great things about being an actor is it serves a short attention span, which is something I have. To do the same character for 9-1/2 months [out of the year] or for 10 years is fulfilling in a different way than having the opportunity to play multiple characters in one year. I like the consistency of a TV show, but I like it for three months out of my year, not nine.

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TVLINE | It hit me as I was prepping to talk to you, that you now have a show on Thursdays, Erica Durance’s Saving Hope airs on Thursdays, and Kristen Kreuk’s Beauty and the Beast will air Thursdays – though they’ll never all be on at the same time.
Oh, really? [Laughs] That’s awesome. We’re taking over Thursday nights!

Wilfred Season 2 continues next Thursday at 10/9c with the “official” season premiere.