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it's been almost 20-years (gulp!) since Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended her Chosen One mission on the beloved horror series, and the same amount of time since star Sarah Michelle Gellar has top-lined a horror series. But Teen Wolf executive producer/writer Jeff Davis has ended that dry spell casting her in his upcoming Paramount+ series, Wolf Pack. Loosely based on the young adult book series of the same by author Edo Van Belkom, Wolf Pack is a contemporary reworking that takes place in current day Los Angeles set against the backdrop of the climate change crisis and increased forest fires. Gellar plays Kristin Ramsey, Chief LAFD arson investigator looking into the cause of an LA fire that may or may not involve teens Everett Lang (Armani Jackson) and Blake Navarro (Bella Shepard).
At today's Paramount+ virtual Television Critics Association press day for Wolf Pack, Davis and the show's primary cast, including Gellar, talked about getting the actress to come and play in their werewolf playground. Davis said it was the studio who originally pitched Gellar to join the show and that he never believed she would have any interest. But they sent her the script and he said the next day her agent said she wanted to do a Zoom meeting.
Gellar said she had been pitched "once, twice, 2000 times" to come back to horror television but she had no intention to return to the genre. "But I read the script and my interest was piqued," she said. Citing why she thinks Buffy remains important to this day, Gellar said the series used monsters as metaphor for growing up and that Wolf Pack similarly uses allegory to speak about what we're going through today. "It's addressing anxiety and depression with children because of the use of their devices and the lack of connectivity they have between one another." As a mother, Gellar said those topics appealed to her. And as a resident of Los Angeles whose home was threatened in the last big Los Angeles area fire, she had first hand perspective about the vulnerability of being at the mercy of nature and her appreciation for the fire fighters."
The actress added that Jeff Davis also sealed the deal for her with the stories he pitched her within the Wolf Pack series. She said she shared with him stories she'd still love to tell in this genre. "The stories he wants to tell are ones that I haven’t gotten to tell yet." She said that streaming television also allows a lot more freedom than she had working in broadcast with Buffy and films, like Cruel Intentions, which were all mandated by tight guidelines regarding sex and language. "Streaming is like the Wild, Wild West in regards to freedom. "I told Jeff there are things I want to play and do better. With age and experience, you look at things differently. And I’m used to being the youngest in cast and now I’m one of the oldest. I want to play the adult themes Jeff wants to go with in this series."
Davis said those adult themes are the biggest departure point from Van Belkom books which were firmly young adult. "This is an adult and edgier story," he explained. "Teen Wolf was more in a comic book world. And this is not a spin off. It's an all new mythology." He added that the series was also born out of his big concern, and inspiration, regarding the impact of fires encroaching on humanity in big ways. "This has a similar opening to Edo's book which had a park ranger who finds abandoned cubs. And it had me thinking what if people were stuck on the road with a fire creeping closer, and what If a high school bus is stuck and they all have to run for their lives?"
Davis said that bloomed into a story about a single father (Rodrigo Santoro) who is reluctantly raising two kids and finding he’s good at it. "I love writing about families, broken families and then found families." Gellar added that the series is also about all of us looking for our path, to belong and be seen and be heard. "Being our true selves is another thing that really appealed to me. With Kristin, it's the first time I'm playing that side of the law. And she seems like a tough, hard person to crack but there’s something else underneath."
Wolf Pack will debut later this year on Paramount+.