Will Arnett’s character in the new Fox comedy Running Wilde is a pampered billionaire who has virtually everything a man could want.
But what Steven Wilde really craves, the love of his longtime dream girl, is the one thing he can’t have.
The radiant Emmy Kadubic, played by Keri Russell, is a selfless environmentalist and humanitarian, the polar opposite of Wilde in every way.
But fate pushed them together last week in the series premiere.
Now he has become her new cause: Emmy wants to make Wilde a better man. Meanwhile, he hopes to win her heart — or at least make her a worse woman.
It sounds like the premise of a conventional romantic comedy. But Running Wilde, airing at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, is anything but conventional. With its cluelessly extreme characters and goofy sight gags, Running Wilde has the same surreal sensibilities as Arnett’s previous comedy, Arrested Development.
We chatted with Arnett and Russell about the show:
Any truth to the rumor that Steven Wilde is a thinly veiled version of Will Arnett? Wasn’t the character renamed Steven Wilde merely because the title Running Arnett didn’t sound right?
Arnett: “Let’s just say that this show represents a side of me that I simultaneously love and hate: I hate that I didn’t grow up a billionaire’s son, because I would have loved it!”
Is there any part of Emmy, the self-righteous crusader, that exists in you as well, Keri?
Russell: “I don’t think I’m as bossy as she is. But I certainly think I know everything. At least my husband would say so. Will jokes that Shane, my husband, is an un-credited writer on the show. Shane tells him all the bad things there are to know about me and they write it in the show.”
Is it a tough balancing act to make a filthy rich, self-centered, immature character lovable?
Arnett: “It’s fun to write a despicable character and then to fight to make him loveable. That’s where I hope the magic will be in our show. And I like the idea of a guy who has been given every kind of advantage and yet he’s somehow a really good person to those around him. He’s kind of the opposite of what people might project onto him in that way.”
Does this brand of absurdist comedy reflect your sense of humor?
Arnett: “I do enjoy the surreal. It makes me laugh when the fourth wall is bent but not broken.”
Russell: “It’s so refreshing. I love it. It’s something you can watch a second and third time and notice new things and get different jokes.”
What’s up with David Cross? Was casting him as Emmy’s boyfriend a desperate ploy to entice more of the Arrested Development fans to watch this show?
Arnett: “David and I just can’t let each other go. When you have something this real, you just can’t let go.”
Russell: “I feel the same way with J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves, who created Felicity. J.J. calls me all the time to do stuff. So yes, there is an Arrested Development flavor [with Cross on board]. But he’s also here because he’s so funny. He goes above and beyond what is asked of him in the most ridiculous ways.”
What kind of relationship do you two have off camera?
Arnett: “Keri is just so demanding and ugly when it comes to being down-to-earth and beautiful. She’s tough about it, because she’s so God-darned good at it.”
Russell: “Every minute of my job, he’s humiliating me or berating me in front of the crew. But I feel like the crew is 75 percent on my side. I feel that they like me a lot more than they like him. Yeah, I’m pretty confident about that. But I tell Will every day that I have an older brother already. His name is Todd Russell. My brother makes fun of me every day of my life. I don’t need another one.”
Any truth that there’s a tiny-horse pressure group protesting the treatment of tiny horses in the first episode?
Arnett: “You heard it here first. The tiny horse revolution has begun!”