The Wolfman, released in 2010, is a remake of a horror classic. The reboot, which stars Benicio Del Toro, succeeds for a number of reasons, one of which is simply the fact that the filmmakers behind the project had a fondness for the original film, The Wolf Man (1941). As a result, the team working on this project brought their adoration and passion to it.
That’s not mere speculation, either. The story of the film’s production makes it abundantly clear that many of the key people involved had a strong desire to ensure that the remake did justice to one of their favorite films. Consider the following:
How Benicio Del Toro Became Involved in the Movie
Benicio del Toro was cast in the titular role not only due to his strong acting talent. While Del Toro is certainly an impressive performer, one who brings a balance of nuance and menace to the role, this served as an instance in which he sought out the role. That’s not common for this actor. At this stage in his career, he has had a tendency to avoid blockbuster material.
This case was different. Del Toro is a fan of the character and, in fact, is an avid collector of memorabilia from the original film. The opportunity to have an actor who was passionate about the character to play the role was very important.
Del Toro wasn’t the only actor who chose to participate in the film out of a fondness for the original. For a movie like The Wolfman, it was important for the creative people who were designing the look of the characters to also be passionate about their work. That was certainly the case this time around.
Bringing Rick Baker Onboard
Rick Baker was responsible for applying the makeup for Benicio Del Toro’s character in The Wolfman. Baker, an acclaimed makeup artist who has worked on a number of films such as The Nutty Professor, Men in Black, and Planet of the Apes, was also drawn to the project out of a fondness for the original production of The Wolf Man.
Like Del Toro, Baker was not at a stage in his career where he would normally pursue this kind of role. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, he explained, “It’s funny: I’ve been very successful and done a lot of films, and I don’t really have an agent—I don’t really pursue jobs, I let people come to me. I’m not really listed anywhere; I don’t know how people find me! It’s easier now that I’m more established, but in the earlier days when I first started out, it’s actually amazing that I was successful. But with this film, when I first found out they were going to do it, I went and talked to somebody I know at Universal. I said, “You know what? I have to do The Wolfman! You’ve got to let me do this! I’ll do some really cool stuff.” The Wolfman and Frankenstein were probably the two most important films in my childhood that made me want to become a makeup artist. I pursued this job.”
Creating a Classic Hollywood Feel
Baker’s involvement ensures that when Benicio Del Toro’s character transforms into a wolf, audiences feel the character is genuinely threatening and intimidating. It also gives the film in general a much more “classic Hollywood” feel. The Wolfman was made during a time when filmmakers were straying from conventional makeup effects in major Hollywood films. The trend continues to this day. Filmmakers often rely on computer-generated effects to create these types of characters now. While the results can sometimes impress (the character of Gollum from the Lord of the Rings franchise comes to mind), they don’t always look as realistic as the classic makeup effects from earlier monster films.
Paying Homage to the Original Film
That’s why it was important that someone like Baker worked on this project. He relied on classic techniques in order to create a memorable character that paid homage to the original.
That’s what makes The Wolfman so special. While it brings new life to an established story, it also clearly recalls the film upon which it is based. That’s due in no small part to the passion of the team that brought this remake to the big screen.