The new MTV original series Teen Wolf, from Criminal Minds creator Jeff Davis, is a darker more dramatic version of the cult classic 80’s film, starring Michael J. Fox. The reboot combines friendship and love in the context of horror and high school, over 12 one-hour episodes, shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, that will air in 2011.
The story follows the life of often unnoticed lacrosse player Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), who wishes he could just be popular. One night, when his best friend Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) convinces him to go out into the woods to join a police search for a dead body, Scott encounters a creature in the darkness and narrowly escapes an attack with a vicious bite in his side. When strange things start to happen, and Scott realizes that he has new powers and abilities, he quickly learns that his life will never be the same.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, co-stars Tyler Posey and Crystal Reed, who plays the mysterious new girl in town, talked about how much they identify with their characters, working with filmmaker Russell Mulcahy (Resident Evil: Extinction, Highlander) on the pilot, and that they think people will be surprised with how much edgier this version of the Teen Wolf story is. Crystal also discussed the experience of making the sci-fi feature Skyline, which started out as an independent film that is now being distributed by Universal Pictures on November 12th. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: How did you guys get involved with Teen Wolf?
TYLER POSEY: Whenever something good comes up that sounds like I could be part of the project, my manager and my agents send me in on it. I went in for the first audition and had great chemistry with the casting director and the people behind the desk, and they liked me. I went back for a callback and met Crystal Reed, we read together for a chemistry read, and it felt really good. Then, they brought us all in for the network test. There were probably at least 10 kids there, and the ones that clicked and were talking were me, Crystal, Tyler [Hoechlin] and Dylan [O’Brien]. We were the group that was hanging out, and then there was another group that was hanging out, who didn’t get the roles. That was basically the audition process. It was one of the most fun audition processes I’ve ever had.
CRYSTAL REED: It was a couple months for the whole process. There were multiple sessions. But, I got the script and I was like “MTV and Teen Wolf. Okay, this should be interesting.” And then, I saw that it was written by Jeff Davis (Criminal Minds), which intrigued me a little bit more because I think he’s brilliant. And then, I read the script and was completely blown away because it was not what I expected at all. Then, I knew that I wanted to go in and hopefully be a part of it. Somehow, it all worked out.
How long ago was that?
REED: That was last December.
POSEY: It was December of 2009. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year.
REED: And, we filmed the pilot in February.
What was it about this story and these characters that you were able to identify with?
POSEY: Just being in high school, it’s so easy to identify with any of these characters, including my character, Scott McCall, because he’s one of those outcasts and underdogs who’s trying to come up. He’s sick of everyone bashing him on his sport. He’s on the lacrosse team, only he doesn’t play because he’s not very good. He’s got two best friends, and that’s his whole entourage. He’s sick of it and he wants to be noticed. Anyone who has been in high school knows that ambition. They want to just get noticed and stop being an underdog or outcast. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I know I did.
REED: My character, Allison Argent, is incredibly relatable. She is the new girl in town, so she brings with her all those feelings of being anxious and not really knowing if you’re going to fit in. She’s constantly having to reinvent herself because her dad is stringing her along from school to school for his work, so she doesn’t really know where she fits. I think a teenage girl, a young woman or anybody knows those feelings of insecurity and fear. That’s what I really relate to, personally. Also, I was really excited to play this part because Allison is innocent, but incredibly intelligent and she’s not afraid to be vulnerable, which I think is really commendable for a young woman. That’s what I related to.
How much of yourselves do you bring to these characters and how different are they from who you are?
POSEY: The cast has the greatest chemistry that I’ve ever been a part of, and that helps so much, in bringing myself to the role because when we’re working, it’s just like hanging out while we’re doing a scene. That really shines through and really shows that our chemistry is there. It brings a lot of us to the role.
REED: Yeah, you’re at ease. I would say that I’m similar to Allison. There are some specific circumstances where we would probably do things a little differently.
POSEY: I could almost see Crystal as Allison, but me and Scott are pretty different. Scott is very lost and wants to be noticed. He’s tired of just being an outcast. I was never really an outcast. I was never really unpopular in high school. But, Scott and I just like to learn and grow. I’m more similar to the wolf than to Scott McCall. I’m not too similar to him, but there’s enough there.
What was your first impression of the original Teen Wolf film, when you saw it, and what are the differences between that film and the version of the story in the TV series?
POSEY: When I first heard about Teen Wolf for MTV, I knew the title immediately because I knew of the movie. I thought it was awesome that they were redoing it, but I wasn’t expecting what I read from the script. The film is completely different than the TV show. In the show, there are minor differences. In the movie, Michael J. Fox’s character, Scott Howard, already had the werewolf DNA in his blood. He just grows into the werewolf. Whereas on the TV show, I’m bit. It’s a lot darker than the movie. The sport isn’t basketball, it’s lacrosse.
REED: There are some key similarities, but for the most part, it’s completely different. I think Jeff [Davis] always says, “He’s a teen and he’s a wolf. He’s a teen wolf.” That’s basically the only similarities.
POSEY: And, we kept Stiles’ (Dylan O’Brien) name. I think people for the people who know the movie and hear of Teen Wolf on MTV, there’s going to be some weird stuff going through their heads, but I really think that anyone, fan of the movie or not, will love this show.
REED: I feel like what’s going to draw people in, initially, is the fact that it was a movie and it has a cult following, so they’ll say, “I wonder what this is going to be like.” Even if they do come to it with a little bit of apprehension, they’re excited and they want to see what it’s all about. And then, they’re going to love it and keep watching, fingers crossed. There’s going to be a lot of folklore and history of werewolves that’s going to be added in, that’s not in the original Teen Wolf at all.
POSEY: It’s not in any type of werewolf story that’s going on right now. There’s a lot of backstory to our werewolves. With the other shows, there’s not too much of that. That’s another cool, exciting thing.
Does it help to have those differences in the werewolf mythology, so that you don’t have to strictly stick to what’s already been out there?
POSEY: Yeah. It’s awesome. We have so much range now because of the way that it’s written. We can go forever.
REED: There’s so much research. There’s so much that was written on werewolves that it goes on and on and on. And, the fact that it’s included is really cool.
POSEY: It helps a lot. You just have to read the script to do research. You don’t have to go in-depth with a long werewolf book, or anything. It’s really cool. I like it.
Tyler, what sort of powers or abilities will being a werewolf give you?
POSEY: One of the powers is to attract girls. Before Scott is bit, he was kind of a loser and an outcast in school, and afterwards, he attracts girls. Lydia, the mean girl, played by Holland Roden, takes a liking to him, as does Crystal. Also, he gets great at his sport, lacrosse, and becomes an all-star.
Are these hunters going to be the big villain throughout the season, or will other things that pose a threat also come up?
POSEY: We don’t know what’s going to happen.
REED: They’re being really secretive about a lot of things.
POSEY: They’re not letting us, or anybody, know about it. It’s just the writers in their room, and whatever happens in that room, stays in that room.
REED: I think there definitely will be a lot more conflict.
POSEY: There will be huge conflict. Scott is in love with Allison and her dad is trying to kill him. It’s very much Romeo and Juliet. Hopefully, that will carry on through the whole first season, and maybe even the rest of the series.
How edgy, dark and violent will this show actually get?
REED: I think more than a regular network.
POSEY: Yeah, it gets pretty scary sometimes. We get pretty violent. It’s pretty gory.
REED: My cousin watched it and had nightmares for two weeks.
POSEY: I don’t know how heady we can get with the sexuality, but MTV has a show called The Hard Times of RJ Berger.
REED: They take it pretty far. That’s a little racy.
POSEY: I hope we can bring some raciness to it. I think that will be a good change of pace, especially for werewolves and that genre.
REED: I think MTV is known for pushing the envelope a little bit, so I’m happy and comfortable that we get to be a part of that. I’m not sure how edgy they’re going to go, but I’d like to see them push things.
POSEY: It’s not going to be like Californication, or anything like that, but I think people are really going to enjoy the risqueness of it.
Did it help to have someone like Russell Mulcahy direct the pilot, so that he could set the right mood?
REED: Hopefully, he’s going to direct the rest of the episodes.
POSEY: If we can get him in for all of them, that would be awesome. That’s what we want to do. But, Russell being involved in this is incredible. When we were shooting it, I could tell what he was doing and see how it was playing out in his head. Some shots were set up so weird, but when we saw the pilot, it was perfect.
REED: He had a vision. He’s great. I feel like a good director provokes you to ask questions about your character, but doesn’t answer them for you. That’s what he definitely did for me, and I think that that was really helpful and will be really helpful throughout the season as well.
What is the experience of shooting so much of this at night like?
REED: We had a horrible experience.
POSEY: Most of the show was shot at nighttime, and when we shot in Atlanta, it was in the middle of winter. At night, it gets pretty cold. It was below freezing. And, Crystal and I had fake rain dumped on us in one scene, for a couple of shots that turned out to be about two and a half hours. Crystal had to get tended to by the medics.
REED: Yeah, I was hyper-ventilating and going into shock. During that scene, I was miserable, but I’m very happy with the way it turned out and I would do it all over again. It looks beautiful. It’s all for the sake of art.
POSEY: It was pretty nuts. I’m glad that, when we go back to Atlanta, we’re going in the Fall, so we get to miss the heat and humidity. I think it will be the perfect time to go there. Hopefully, we’ll get all the night shots, the rain shots and the shirtless shots in the warmer weather, and it won’t be as cold as last time. But, I think we can handle it again.
Are you working with a lot of special effects, or are you working more with prosthetics?
POSEY: When I turn into the wolf, it’s mostly prosthetics. Sometimes they have special effects on my eyes, so they glow yellow, but we also have contacts that I put in. Most of the special effects come in with stuff that’s going on around. I get trampled by deer, which are all special effects. There are lacrosse balls flying at my face, which are sometimes special effects. There’s a part in an episode where I drop my inhaler and it goes flying and the camera follows it, and that’s all special effects. But, the special effects are mostly just minor things that are going on, and not on me. Most of the stuff that’s on me is all make-up and it’s all real. It’s by K.N.B. make-up, who did Spawn. They do everything. They did a really good job.
Tyler, is it easier for you then, as an actor, to be able to have that make-up and prosthetics actually on you?
POSEY: When I get into the make-up, I turn into the werewolf. I feel creepy, and I love it. I love freaking people out. I’ll walk up behind them and breathe down their neck, and stuff like that. It really does help me turn into the character. I don’t know how long I will say that I love being put in the make-up chair for two and a half hours, and then an hour afterwards to get it off, but I really like it. I hope they keep it.
What does the transformation itself look like?
POSEY: The werewolf that we are doing is completely different than the other werewolves that are going around right now. It’s more of a sexier, sleek werewolf. We’ve got to push that sexy. It’s not as hairy as the original Teen Wolf, Michael J. Fox. It definitely gives it a much darker and new feel to this werewolf, and it’s really good. You’ll really like it.
Are you guys prepared for the attention you’re going to get from being a part of this show?
REED: I don’t know.
POSEY: I think I am. I’ve been in this business since I was six years old and it took me a long time to get to the mental state to be prepared for that moment. For awhile I wasn’t, but now I think I am. I hope I can tackle it. I don’t think it will be easy, but I think I’ll be able to handle it. And, we’ll definitely help each other.
REED: I’m prepared to do my work and to do my best job. Then, I can handle anything else.
Crystal, what was the experience of making Skyline like, and who do you play in that?
REED: I play Denise, who is a promiscuous assistant to an entertainment executive. It was really fun for me because it’s completely unlike myself and I got to really delve into a world which was unlike mine. It was interesting on set because it started off as a really low-budget indie. (Directors) Colin and Greg Strause did Avatar and were really heavy into special effects, so it was fun to be on that set, but I didn’t know what it was going to look like. I didn’t know what anything was going to look like. With the success of it and with it being distributed by Universal, seeing it go from nothing to something was a really cool experience. Being that it was my first film, this is the best case scenario. I had no idea what it was going to do. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m excited about it.