'Teen Wolf' EP talks comparisons to 'Vampire Diaries' and 'Twilight'
Raise your hand if that was your reaction when you heard MTV would be rebooting the '80s movie "Teen Wolf" as an hour-long drama. Don't worry, our hand is raised, too.
After talking with the show's creator Jeff Davis ( "Criminal Minds") and watching the first episode, we've changed our tune, which now sounds like, "Why didn't they think of this sooner?"
This isn't your parents' "Teen Wolf" -- it's sexy, it's scary, there's less fur, there's no basketball or van surfing -- and that's a good thing. In fact, Davis compares the series to different '80s classic "The Lost Boys," something we wholeheartedly agree with.
Because the show centers on a werewolf, we had to ask Davis how the show compares to other wolf-fare on TV, namely "The Vampire Diaries" and "True Blood." We were also curious to hear why they decided to keep the "Teen Wolf" name and if he was nervous about backlash from fans of the original movie.
Zap2it: We feel like there's a lot of preconceived notions about the show. In your own words, describe 'Teen Wolf.'
Davis: It's a horror/thriller/suspense show that's funny and romantic that's got a little bit of "Lost Boys" and a little bit of "Buffy" in it.
When you took on 'Teen Wolf,' were you nervous at all about backlash from fans of the original movie?
Actually, no. The reason for that is because I'm a huge "Battlestar Galactica" fan and the new "Battlestar Galactica" has so little to do with the old 'Battlestar Galactica." You do a reboot or a remake, but we do it through the lens of a new time period. "Teen Wolf" was perfect for the '80s, but if you go watch the movie now, you think, "Wow, that is really an '80s movie." So to all the fans of the original movie, I say I'm a huge fan, too, and when I want to re-experience it, it's available in perfect Blu-ray. The funny thing is I have a lot of nods to the original, which I don't think people are going to realize until they watch the show.
If the show is going to deviate from the original movie quite a bit, why did you keep the title 'Teen Wolf'?
My first answer is that it's quite a bit like the original movie. It's about a teenager discovering he's a werewolf and dealing with those issues, but it's redone within a modern take. I changed certain things, like basketball -- we've seen basketball so much on TV that why not try something new like lacrosse, which is a far more aggressive sport. It does take a lot if its story points from the original.
Then I always go back to my sarcastic answer -- the title "Wolf Boy" didn't have the same ring.
Were there ever any discussions about possibly changing the title to avoid backlash?
It was always going to be "Teen Wolf" and part of that is, you can't dismiss the power of branding. "Teen Wolf" has had so many mentions on the Internet, you can't deny the power of that kind of initial publicity. What you have to do then is hope that you've actually given them a good product.
Do you watch other shows that have werewolves, like "The Vampire Diaries" and "True Blood"?
Everything. A. I'm a huge genre fan, and B. I'm very aware of all media, so I watch everything. I love "True Blood" actually, and before I even sat down to write the pilot script for "Teen Wolf," I read the first two books in the "Twilight" series to see how they did it. Actually, I have to say even though there's a ton of comparisons, like that our look and feel seems like "Vampire Diaries" or "Twilight," they're nothing alike actually.
If it's nothing like "TVD" or "Twilight," what would you compare the show to?
When I actually first talked to MTV about this, like two years ago, they asked me if I was interested in doing "Teen Wolf" and I asked them how they planned on doing it because the original movie is a comedy. It's actually a basketball movie. They said, "We want to do it a little darker, a little sexier." I said to them, "What if we do it like "Lost Boys?'" and they said, 'That sounds perfect,' so that's actually the template I used. Funny, sexy, romantic, scary -- to me it's much more in the vein of "The Lost Boys" or even "Buffy" without the high camp than "Vampire Diaries."
What do you think is the biggest difference between a vampire story and a werewolf story?
The thing about "True Blood" and "Vampire Diaries" and all vampire stories is they deal with anti-heroes. Their hero is a monster constantly dealing with the urge to rip out the throat of the main character, which is the girl. You can say all kinds of things about the subconscious desire of that story, but it's all the way back to "Dracula" and the idea of bodice-ripping Gothic romance.
Our story is kind of a superhero story. Our character is much more of a Peter Parker. He struggles with the aggression, but it's much more in terms of a "Beauty and the Beast" type story, which the modern-day of that is "The Incredible Hulk" -- someone who struggles with anger and power, but will always protect the girl. Our character, he's not a dark character like Edward Cullen, he's someone whose a normal teenager. That's the thing about the vampires -- they're all 400 years old, so they're adults pretending to be teenagers. Our main characters, they're real teenagers.
Shows like "TVD" and "True Blood" have their werewolf character turn into a real wolf, but you guys are going the make-up effects route. Were there ever any discussions about using real wolves?
There was at a certain point, but I always knew that I wanted to go back and really try to do make-up effects and there is a werewolf monster in our show that is full-on make-up bodysuit effects, closer to something like "The Howling" or "Underworld." We do have the monster, which is funny because other shows have kind of thrown in the towel about it. I always say, the other shows have werewolves you can pet, we have one you can kiss.
Watch "Teen Wolf" tonight, June 5, at 11 p.m. ET on MTV right after the MTV Movie Awards.