In MTV’s new re-imagining of Teen Wolf, from show creator/executive producer Jeff Davis and director/co-executive producer Russell Mulcahy, takes the larger story of the transformation that every teenager goes through as they come of age and figure out who they are, and tells it with the added ingredient of werewolves. With a forbidden love story and snarling monsters, the drama follows newly bitten werewolf Scott McCall (Tyler Posey). Having been turned by Derek (Tyler Hoechlin) after his best friend Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) encourages him to go out into the woods at night in search for a dead body, Scott becomes faster and stronger, making him the arch rival of the lacrosse team’s star Jackson Whittemore (Colton Haynes) and bringing him to the attention of popular girl Lydia Martin (Holland Roden). And, when mysterious new girl Allison Argent (Crystal Reed) shows up in town, Scott learns a secret about her family that could put an end to their romance before it really even gets started.
At the show’s press day, co-stars Tyler Hoechlin, Colton Haynes and Holland Roden talked to Collider for this exclusive interview about how they got involved with the series, getting to collaborate on the development of their characters, what this take on werewolves is, and how they evolved over the course of Season 1. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: How did you guys get involved with this show, and what was it about this project that was appealing to you?
HOLLAND RODEN: Just like any other newer actor in town, I got a call from my agent and he pitched two characters to me – Allison Argent, the role that Crystal Reed plays, and Lydia Martin. And I said to my agent, “They’ll never hire me for Lydia, in a million years.” Originally, her breakdown was, “Off the runaways of Milan.” I’m 5’3″ and that just wasn’t going to add up. I usually play the quiet, vulnerable, new girl. So, I went to network for Allison and didn’t get it. They called me up later and asked me to come in for Lydia. I thought they were crazy, but I said, “Sure,” and I went in and played it as more of a brat than a bitch. Sure enough, that’s how it ended up and Lydia Martin was born. I was proud to be a part of it. I loved the script. When I looked at it, I had the revelation that everyone has with MTV and said, “Really, they’re doing scripted?” But, they’ve taken this very seriously. It’s a one-hour drama and I think the writing is brilliant. I’m happy to be a part of it.
COLTON HAYNES: It was nice to read the script and see that it wasn’t as campy as the original. I love the original. Everybody loves the original, but we’re not trying to be that. It was nice that it was definitely thinking out of the box. MTV has a huge following. They can put this out to the masses, so it was nice to get to do that. As much as I don’t like to read, “He’s a jerk and a jock,” I went in and wore a letterman jacket, and a few auditions later, I found out I was going to go to Atlanta. It was nice. Originally, I was just supposed to be a guest star. And then, throughout the filming, I got to be a part of the whole entire series. It was awesome. It’s so weird how things happen like that. You never know how your role is going to progress, but we had such a blast doing it.
TYLER HOECHLIN: For me, it was the writing. It was very unexpected. When we first got the script, MTV was a reality network, so to see something this dark, smart, original and well written was kind of a shock. So, reading the pilot episode, I was just really drawn in by the characters and the storylines, and could really see that (show creator) Jeff [Davis] had a very clear idea of where he wanted the story to go, and left it very open to take its own twists and turns, to not be so predictable. It’s very unpredictable.
Did you guys all get a chance to be collaborative throughout this process and bring some of yourselves to these characters?
RODEN: Definitely, yeah. I originally asked Jeff about not having the popular girl be that stereotypical, stock character who doesn’t have the intellect as well. I asked him if we could make her both the most popular girl in school, but also the smartest girl in school. People can’t really touch her, in that aspect. I like that she’s not condescended to, academically. I really appreciate that Jeff was able to incorporate that. Education has been a really big part of my life. I went to an all-girls school for most of my life, and the curriculum was definitely at the top of your list. No matter who your friends were, our grades were really important to us. There was no cheating. We actually cared about our education, and that’s carried through with me, just having graduated college in September.
HAYNES: Jeff is so great when it comes to having his ears open. If you feel like you want to add something to it, he’s like, “Let’s try it,” and if it makes it, it makes it. He’ll run up to us on set and be like, “Just try this. Forget what I wrote and say this.” Sometimes it just comes out to be even more genius than what he put on the page. The pressure is not on us to say the exact same words, so if we have a few things that we want to put in, we can put them in and Jeff trusts that we know our characters enough to do that.
HOECHLIN: It was nice to be a part of the team. It was really collaborative.
Tyler, what was it like for you, the first time you saw what the werewolves would look like?
HOECHLIN: Originally, Derek was not quite as intimidating as a werewolf, as we would have liked, so we went back to the drawing board on the make-up for Derek. The werewolf now is much more demonic and intimidating, and it definitely strikes a little harder, aesthetically. It’s a little scarier now. We’ve gotten it to a good point now.
How did you make this werewolf mythology different than what people are used to?
HOECHLIN: Jeff is a very, very smart guy and, if you were to really dive into his writing, there’s nothing in the show that doesn’t have either a double meaning, or something very important about it. Nothing is just placed in there. It’s all very specific and there for a reason, and he’s done a good job of drawing inspiration from different werewolf mythology from around the world, not just one kind of mythology. Different cultures have different views on it. There are different animals that people actually transform into, but ours are wolves.
How surprised were you by where these characters ended up, at the end of Season 1, compared to who they were at the beginning?
RODEN: Oh, I call it the unraveling of the rope. It slowly starts to unravel around Episodes 3, 4 and 5. It really starts to get involved in the families and why they are the way they are. I call it the unraveling of the rope because you see the surface of what seems like stereotypical characters, and Jeff definitely pulls out of his sleeve, like a magician, things that you would not expect happening to these people and why they have the relationships that they do with their friends and how we start to become more involved with each other. That’s such a vague answer, but I can’t use examples because it will give away the show.
HAYNES: In the pilot, you’re introduced to these stereotypical characters, whether it be the brooding older werewolf or the jock or the popular girl. But then, we throw you for a loop. From Episode 3 on, everyone breaks the stereotype. They go into different storylines and personalities and it’s great to see those stereotypes change up a little bit.
HOECHLIN: It’s fun for me because Derek is kind of the mystery of the show and every episode is just as much of a mystery to me. He goes back and forth so much that, until we’re handed the script, I’m not sure whether he’s good this week or bad this week. That’s fun to play.
Have you had any favorite episodes or moments that you’re really excited about viewers getting to see?
RODEN: Episodes 5 and 6 are my favorites. Episode 6 is so good.
HOECHLIN: Episode 3 is the first werewolf fight. I enjoyed that one a lot.
HAYNES: I think Episodes 8, 9 and the finale are my favorites. There are some scenes that I’ve seen in editing that are just mind-blowing. It’s easy to say that ‘cause it’s your show, but some of the scenes are so cinematic. There are some scenes that we shot completely backwards. We did things backwards, but then they play it forward, and it’s the most creepy, weird thing, especially with the music. It looks contorted.
RODEN: Our D.P., (director) Russell Mulcahy and (show creator) Jeff Davis were the Three Musketeers. They worked very closely together. Russell directed many of the episodes, and was an executive producer as well. Obviously, you have to have a great script and great talent, but what makes Teen Wolf such a great show is the way it was shot, the music that’s incorporated, and the incredible lighting, which creates such an ominous tone. There’s one scene that’s done in the shadow of a fan. It’s amazing to watch. If you pick apart Teen Wolf, as a whole, you start to see how many different aspects up the game a little bit.
HAYNES: We were best with one of the best horror directors in film, with Russell Mulcahy, and now he’s brought his film knowledge and thrown it on the TV screen for an hour. It’s like you’re watching one of his Resident Evil movies. It’s so great.
This show is on cable, but it’s still MTV, so how dark and edgy will it get?
HOECHLIN: I’d say we push the envelope about as far as you can go on TV, with the sexiness and edginess. If we went any further, we’d be on HBO.
HAYNES: With MTV, we’re blessed to not have to work inside of this box that a lot of other TV shows are. Not only do we do that, we really hit the mark when it comes to pushing the limit, but pushing it tastefully and, at the same time, shockingly.
HOECHLIN: And, it’s nice that MTV has encouraged us to do that.
How do your characters connect to Scott McCall?
RODEN: Lydia notices Scott when he does well on the lacrosse field. She’s all about what’s the best thing, in that moment, that can benefit her. So, she takes notice and starts to question Jackson (Colton Haynes) and her place in the school society. If Scott’s going to be on top, she’s going to be right there with him.
HAYNES: Before Scott became a werewolf, Jackson didn’t really know who Scott was. He was just some kid, but he was not in Jackson’s world. But then, all of a sudden, Scott starts to have these heightened senses and becomes an amazing lacrosse player, and that’s Jackson’s life. Jackson’s life is lacrosse and popularity and power. When his power starts to get taken away, that’s when Scott becomes a huge liability for Jackson. So, Jackson is on a quest to find out what he is and how he can possibly get it, so he can be just as powerful. Scott McCall is Jackson’s new rival.
HOECHLIN: Derek takes on this mentor position to Scott, like Morpheus to Neo (in The Matrix), or Obi Wan to Skywalker (in Star Wars). He has these amazing abilities, but Scott has no idea how to use them, so Derek has to teach him the ropes and show him how to use them to his benefit, instead of his detriment. He’s also very much a mystery throughout the first season.
Tyler, does each person who is a werewolf have different abilities, or do they just get stronger in their abilities over time?
HOECHLIN: It’s not different abilities, but just different stages of development. There are all of the heightened senses, and you’re stronger and faster, but the more time you spend as a werewolf, the stronger you are and the faster you are. There is a hierarchy of betas and alphas. Alphas are the more monstrous werewolves that are much stronger, faster and more powerful.