Teen Wolf's actors reveal why their show is like Willie Wonka

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

You may think you know what MTV's Teen Wolf is all about, but three of the actors from the new TV series want you to think again. When the series premieres this Sunday after the 2011 MTV Movie Awards, there are plenty of surprises in store, promised actors Tyler Hoechlin, Colton Haynes and Holland Roden during an exclusive interview.

"I know the world's finding this out for the first time, but we found out over a year ago, when we were being cast on this, that MTV is taking this one-hour drama very seriously," said Roden (Lost, CSI), who plays Lydia Martin, a popular girl with a secret. "And you can really tell that the second you look at Jeff Davis, our creator's, writing. And so every time we get a new script, we were all giddy. It was like Christmas morning every single three-week block when we'd get new scripts. It was a big deal for us. We really got into it, and it wasn't just because we worked on the show. We were genuinely interested in what happens to these people."

When it comes to Teen Wolf—which focuses on a teen named Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) who gets bitten by a werewolf and his high-school friends and associates—you can expect the unexpected, said the actors. Here are six things that may surprise you about the series:

Forget campy. This Teen Wolf is edgy.

"We all love the [1985 Michael J. Fox] movie, but ours is completely different," said Haynes, who plays the popular Jackson Whittemore, the star of his high school's lacrosse team. "That's what drew me into it. I can't even believe that I'm a part of it right now. I'm so, so happy with the product, and I think that everyone else is going to be extremely surprised and happy when they see it."

Teen Wolf is "edgy, and it's really captivating, the story about forbidden love and the way that these six characters really intertwine and interact with each other. We all have a great way of seeing Scott's struggle and also being a part of it at the same time. It was a great way to see this new reinvention of Teen Wolf, as opposed to the kind of campy version from the '80s," added Haynes.

"We might actually, truly jump out of the TV screen and scare you."

The story "just really unravels itself nicely throughout the 12 episodes," said Haynes. "But it really starts getting gory for a bit. I saw some of the footage and I was ... it's kind of scary. There's a lot of it that's so cinematic that you feel like you're watching The Shining, and it's like you ... the viewers, I feel are going to be wandering around dark hallways with flashlights, like someone's going to jump out and scare you at any moment."

"And they just might," added Roden with a laugh.

"They actually might. We might actually, truly jump out of the TV screen and scare you ... No, but it was just so much fun to create this scary, edgy, edge-of-your-seat drama that also has a comedic aspect."

There are two Tylers, and one of them feels a lot like Jack Sparrow

Having two actors named Tyler got more than a little confusing, said Hoechlin (7th Heaven, Castle), who plays the older werewolf Derek. "We've gone with last names officially now on set. It's Hoechlin and Posey."

As far as Hoechlin's character, Derek comes off as more than a little mysterious. "He kind of remains that way, really, throughout the first season. I always like to compare him to Jack Sparrow in that sense, just because I'm a huge Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow fan, in the fact that he's very much back and forth. Sometimes you root for him, sometimes you root against him, and you really don't know which one is the right thing to do sometimes," he said.

Derek is very secretive and guarded, said Hoechlin. "He takes on this kind of master/apprentice relationship with Scott, kind of the Morpheus to Scott's Neo, Obi-Wan to Skywalker sort of thing. Showing him the ropes of how to be a werewolf and how to not kill everybody close to him, which is always good," said Hoechlin with a laugh.

When it comes to playing Derek, every day is different, because he can be both a good guy and a bad guy. "So it really is playing a dual character at times. And it's all something different than I've done before. He's kind of the mean guy, and I've usually played the nice guy. So it's fun to kind of step outside of that and really play something that's really not yourself. I love playing characters ... like I said, Johnny Depp's my idol just because of the things that he does, stepping outside of the box. I think any time you can get away from what you are in everyday life as an actor is a fun adventure to take on."

When it comes to Roden's character, Lydia, think Election's Tracy Flick meets Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

"She is sort of a dark horse throughout the season," said Roden. "She's not your quintessential mean girl. She's more of a brat, a Type A brat. I recently graduated from college, and I love that Jeff Davis let us incorporate in the show is that Lydia's the smartest girl in school. Because I feel like the stereotypical popular girl isn't usually portrayed with the intellect card as well. So that was nice that we were able to have both."

While Roden loves her character now, originally she wanted to play Allison, the werewolf hunter's daughter Scott falls for. "Lydia was portrayed as this model off the runway of Milan. And I am all of 5'3". And so I verbatim I told my agent, 'They would not hire me for Lydia in a million years.' So I said, obviously I'm going to go for Allison," she said. However, when the role of Allison went to Crystal Reed, she got a callback for Lydia. She returned, "thinking they were still crazy. I knew that, okay, if I'm going to go in for this character, sure, maybe I'm cute, but I'm not a model. And so I played her very much as a brat. Have you ever seen Election? Alexander Payne's Election? So she's Tracy Flick meets Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. That's how I sold her from the beginning."

Colton Haynes said goodbye to The Gates and hello to his badass character Jackson.

Jackson is "very, very mean, and he's rude to everybody, and he definitely has a big wall up," said Haynes. "And he's a little more than your average jock, but he's very emotional, and you find out there's a lot of things that go on with him from his childhood. So that's why he put the wall up and says 'F you' to everybody and kind of likes to start fights. But his role with Scott is, Scott starts getting a lot more attention than he does because of him being a werewolf, so I try my hardest throughout the season to find out what he is and how I can get it. I definitely do whatever I can to make his life a living hell, but also figure out how I can be like him."

Haynes, who played a werewolf in last summer's The Gates, figured he might as well star in shows about werewolves "for the rest of my career, as long as I'm around," he joked. Actually he booked Teen Wolf before The Gates, but the timing led him to film The Gates first, which has been canceled by ABC.

When it comes to this Teen Wolf, grab the popcorn.

"It's a show that's really going to exceed expectations, even if you are coming into it with high hopes," said Hoechlin. "The quality of everything we did, our director, cinematographer, everybody on set did such a great job that ... it really is kind of like watching a movie every week. It's very miniseries-esque. So it's something that, as long as you give that first hour or two a chance, there's a pretty good chance you'll be sucked in."

"People need to get it out of their minds that MTV is just a reality network, with music as well, because I really think this show is breaking new ground," said Haynes. "Not just for MTV, but also for TV, because it's a one-hour film every week. If people give it a chance, they're going to be so hooked, and they're really going to get that cinematic feel as well.

"And I think that the date nights are overrated," added Haynes. "Instead of going to the movies, I think people are going to get on the couch and have popcorn and watch TV on Monday nights at 10 o'clock." And turn the channel to MTV, of course.

Teen Wolf's two-part premiere begins on MTV on Sunday after the 2011 MTV Movie Awards at 11 p.m., and then finishes up in its regular timeslot on Monday at 10 p.m.

Will you watch?

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