On Season 2 of MTV’s hit drama series Teen Wolf, there are new complications, new werewolves and new villains, along with all the twists, turns and cliffhangers that fans have come to expect. Set against the backdrop of contemporary teen life, and with a forbidden romance at its core, the war between hunters and werewolves is escalating, leading new Alpha Derek (Tyler Hoechlin) to strengthen his pack and attempt to bring Scott (Tyler Posey) into the fold, while Scott’s girlfriend Allison (Crystal Reed) is being molded into a skilled werewolf hunter.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, show creator/executive producer Jeff Davis talked about where things are headed this season, keeping the show grounded in reality, when he realized the show was being received in the way that he’d hoped, what he felt worked best in Season 1, the challenges of incorporating new characters in an organic way, developing the look for the new female werewolf, possible character deaths, what fans will enjoy about the Season 1 DVD, and already thinking ahead to Season 3. He also talked about wanting to do a horror movie one day, and that he would love to do a Marvel comic book movie (his favorite comic character is Dr. Strange). Check out what he had to say after the jump.
JEFF DAVIS: The characters are definitely in a transitional phase. It’s all about where they end up and what they become. I think fans might be surprised by the paths we take them down. The fans can expect more twists and turns this year.
When this series initially started, a lot of people just assumed it would be a cheesy teen show, in the same vein as Twilight. Did you make a concerted effort to keep it very different from that, or was doing something as dark as you have, always the plan for this?
DAVIS: You know, there wasn’t a real plan to make it different. I read the first two Twilight books, in preparation for making this, ‘cause I wanted to know what teenagers loved so much about it. I think it was partly the idea that Edward was a hero to Bella, and that romance could outlast and outlive, in the face of great conflict. Those are very universal themes, and I think they were well done that way, but we really wanted to tell our own story here. When I was first thinking about it, it was always, “How do we tell a great horror story with some romance and comedy thrown in?” I really just wanted to do a TV version of The Lost Boys, to be honest.
Aside from the fact that some of these characters are hairier than others, it feels like you wanted to go with an approach that was grounded in reality. Would you say that’s accurate?
DAVIS: Absolutely! That was a very important consideration. I like to say that I come from the [Steven] Spielberg ‘80s aesthetic of single parent families and these kids, riding their bikes around town because they can’t quite afford cars yet, or borrowing mom’s car with the driver’s side window busted out and replaced with plastic. Those kinds of things make you care about the characters and make the characters seem vulnerable. I, myself, come from a single parent family, so I grew up like that. It’s a way of making it feel real. And the more you care about the characters, the more frightened you are for them.
When did you realize that the show was really connecting with viewers in the way that you had hoped it would?
DAVIS: I like to follow Twitter and read fan reactions online. During the airings, I saw people gradually picking up on it. By the 12th episode, I remember reading one Twitter response from a teenage girl saying, “I’m watching right now and I can’t breathe.” I just sat there and said to myself, “I control the emotions of teenage girls for one glorious hour!” I knew people were being entertained by it. I created Criminal Minds as well, but more people have come up to me about Teen Wolf than Criminal Minds. It’s kind of odd because Criminal Minds reaches a much broader audience. People of all age ranges have told me they love the show, so that’s very gratifying. I just find that doing 12 episodes that are all serialized, and making it feel like one long movie, is so much more engaging for a viewer.
As the show progressed, was it nerve-wracking to come up with a cool idea that you knew you’d have to hold off on until Season 2, without knowing if you’d have a Season 2?
DAVIS: It was, a little bit, yeah. But, it’s kind of that way, every time you sit down to write. Working in Hollywood, you never know what’s going to happen. You sit down to write and, when you come up with an idea, you say, “Oh, god, I hope this gets made, one day.” These days, the voice in the back of my head says, “You better finish writing because they’re shooting it on Tuesday.” It’s a little different, but just as nerve-wracking, if not more.
After you finished the first season, were there things that you felt worked the best that you wanted to carry over into Season 2?
DAVIS: Yes, certain things, like the relationships. Once you see those relationships start working, you write to them. I knew that Derek (Tyler Hoechlin) and Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) were just magic. Stiles and his father just seemed like a real father-son relationship. Every time they’re on screen, you see that. Scott (Tyler Posey) and his mom are great. Stiles and Lydia (Holland Roden) provide very good comic banter. When you start to see certain things working, you write towards them, and we definitely did that. We actually started out, in the writer’s room, with a heading that said, “Great pairings,” and at the top of that was Derek and Stiles.
Is there a character that you feel has changed the most from what you thought it would be, primarily because of what the actor brought to the role?
DAVIS: I’d have to say that would be JR Bourne, who plays Allison’s father. The character is the stern father, but the one thing he does is bring a vulnerability to it and a conflict of emotion. It’s really fun to write for him, this season. He gets a lot more action and he gets a lot more pathos. I think he does a phenomenal job. It’s nice seeing what an actor like that brings to it. And then, with someone like Dylan O’Brien, it’s nice seeing what he comes up with, on the spot, when he improvises. We try to give them one take, when we can.
What have been the biggest challenges in balancing the horror and the romance, without focusing too much on either one?
DAVIS: That’s something that I don’t find I’m too concerned with. I feel like it’s music. There are always change-ups when you go from verse to chorus to bridge, and that’s how I see it. It’s a little bit of Hitchcock, as well. He had quite a bit of humor, in his darkest, scariest movies. Frenzy is one of his scariest and most brutally horrifying films, but it’s also one of his funniest. I, myself, am a fan of stories that cross genres, so I don’t find that much difficulty, in trying to balance the tone. It’s that kind of tone that was found in Buffy and The Lost Boys, and shows and movies like that. We’re just trying to emulate that, really. I just saw The Avengers for the second time, and it’s not only an exciting movie with a lot of action, but it’s really funny, too. And then, he brings in a heartfelt moment that hits perfectly. It’s a skill, I would have to say, for a lot of writers to learn. Hopefully, it’s one we’ve mastered.
DAVIS: Well, it is quite a challenge. One of the big challenges actually is not allowing a supporting character to take too much of a main stage and take away the story from your main characters. The challenge is to always realize whose story this really is. It’s the same thing that happens in the Batman movies, where the villains become more interesting than Batman himself. You’ve gotta remember who your main characters are. To me, they are sources of conflict for the main characters. They’re new antagonists or new allies for the main characters. That’s what makes them fun. It’s about bringing in new people, like Isaac and Erica and Boyd, as three new werewolves, and seeing what happens to different kinds of people who get their wish and who get power a little too quickly. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with them. And then, we have new villains, in people like Michael Hogan, from Battlestar Galactica, who is phenomenal. We’re going to have a lot of fun with him. I started writing some very Shakespearian lines for him. He gets to chew the scenery a bit.
In adding a female werewolf to the mix, how did you decide the look for her?
DAVIS: It was definitely a challenge in the make-up because we wanted to do something that was subtle yet scary, but not too hairy. It’s hard to do, especially on a budget like ours where we don’t have that much time for research and development. I also definitely wanted to broaden the scope of our characters a bit, so we have a growing number of ethnic characters, thank god, and female characters. I like writing strong women, too. It’s fun to see a timid girl become a werewolf, or see a normal teenage girl learn how to become a hunter.
How will Derek (Tyler Hoechlin) fare as the new Alpha?
DAVIS: Derek definitely comes into more confidence. He’s got a bit of swagger. He’s got his new red eyes, and he’s got an agenda of building his pack and building his strength. He’s like a general who knows that he needs to build his army. But, he’s going to stumble, along the way, because he’s not quite ready for it. He’s not quite the leader yet that he thinks he is. It’s all about hubris for Derek, and seeing him make mistakes. He may end the season up somewhat humbled.
When you see shows of this type really upping the ante and killing off integral characters, does that put the pressure on you to kill someone off, at some point?
DAVIS: Only if it’s necessary for the story. I don’t like the idea of death for the sake of ratings or not knowing what to do with the character anymore. If the story dictates it and it’s where the characters should go, then that’s a great death. A victorious death or a death that is a beautiful sacrifice are things that we’ll definitely not shy away from.
DAVIS: Yes, they can. Possibly more than one.
With Season 1 recently out on DVD, are there any special features or deleted scenes that you think fans will most enjoy?
DAVIS: I think they’ll definitely enjoy the gag reel. It’s nice to see the guys and girls, behind the scenes. I love gag reels, myself. For Episode 12, we put a lot of footage back in that had to be cut for time. I think there’s almost eight and a half minutes more of footage in Episode 12. The commentaries are also funny. The producers and directors give some insightful commentary while the actors give mostly comedic commentary, which is great. I think it’s definitely worth the buy. We put a lot of effort into making it a worthwhile purchase.
Have you already had to start thinking ahead to where you would take Season 3, if you get one?
DAVIS: Absolutely! There are plans, all throughout this season, for the third season. Seeds are sewn, I can say that much.
Do you have a dream project that you’d love to do, if given the opportunity?
DAVIS: I’m very much a person of the moment and of the present, but I wouldn’t mind going off and doing a horror movie, one day. I love scary movies. It’s funny because I couldn’t stand them when I was a kid, but these days, I just eat them up. I’m also a huge comic book and sci-fi junkie. There are a few ideas that I would love to do. I would love to do a Marvel comics movie. Dr. Strange is actually one of my favorite comic book characters. I’m sure they’re working on that now. I would absolutely love to do stuff like that.
Teen Wolf airs on Monday nights on MTV.