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Benicio Del Toro Discusses 'The Wolfman'

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Benicio Del Toro in 'The Wolfman'

Benicio Del Toro in 'The Wolfman'

© Universal Pictures
Benicio Del Toro has been a big fan of the classic Universal Pictures monster movies since he was a child. The Wolfman has always fascinated him, and the idea of getting to play the character - complete with actual werewolf makeup - proved an irresistible draw to the Oscar-winning actor.

At the LA press conference for the horror thriller, Del Toro said, "As far back as I can remember, these are the first movies - the Universal horror movies - where I knew the title of the film and I also knew the names of the actors in those films. I think I knew that before Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Dr. Dolittle. These are the movies that I grew up watching. I'm talking four, five, six, seven years old."

Benicio Del Toro The Wolfman LA Press Conference

Assuming the role of producer, was it just practical or could you shepherd a remake of a movie you really loved as a kid?

Benicio Del Toro: "Well, yeah, it was a little bit of both. We proposed the idea - it was Rick Yorn and myself - we went up to the studio and proposed the idea of doing a remake of the original Wolfman movie with the intention of really paying homage to those Universal classic horror movies, like Frankenstein. By that I mean by paying homage is to stay close to the story, to also have the makeup be a big component, have the actor in the makeup being a big part of the movie, and they liked the idea. I think Andrew Kevin Walker came in and then Rick Baker came in and we were moving."

Who turned you onto those horror movies, and were you also interested in Silence of the Lambs and those kinds of films?

Benicio Del Toro: ":It was my cousins. They were older. But what I think, and these movies were way beyond their time too, but I think what happens is like sometime in the ‘60s, early ‘60s, there was a throwback to those horror movies. What I remember, and this through my cousins, there was a magazine called Famous Monsters. That magazine was in my house as far back as I remember. The movies actually that I saw when I first saw The Wolfman or Dracula or the Bride of Frankenstein were, this is before VHS, before DVD, before Blu Ray, before cable TV really, they were Super8. These Super8 films started kind of sometime in the ‘60s."

"And then the other thing that I remember as a child were these model kits, which you get the model of Frankenstein or King Kong and you glue it together and you painted it. I think it was a great pacifier for kids. Some of them were really gory. I remember the model of Bride of Frankenstein, you had to paint like the limb, a brain. They were really cool toys. They were made by Aurora was the company, a company based in Illinois. The movies were made by a company named Castle Films. So I think there was a throwback in the ‘60s before my time, and I came in towards the end of that because the kids that I grew up with didn’t have older cousins. They didn’t have that connection to the monsters who were my age. I got the tail end of it. And I remember some of these model kits, they didn’t make them anymore when I was growing up and I would dream about my cousin had The Bride of Frankenstein and that was like the cool one to have. I’d have dreams about this model toy because they had it and I didn’t have it."

Were you a fan of Silence of the Lambs?

Benicio Del Toro: "Yeah, Jaws, I remember seeing Jaws when it first came out. But The Silence of the Lambs, Halloween, I like all kinds of movies...but I like some of those horror movies a lot too. Silence of the Lambs of course because of Sir Anthony Hopkins."

What’s your opinion on CGI and your process of convincing the studio to use makeup?

Benicio Del Toro: "When you have Rick Baker dying to do it, you don’t have to do much convincing. I don't think the studio had any problems with Rick Baker doing the makeup."

"Well, I think that CGI can enhance a picture. I think it enhances this one. The transformation, CGI helps. Regarding green screen, green screen is really like doing some stage work. You have to make believe that there is a window, make believe that something is there that is really not there and convince the audience. It’s part of acting. So I don’t have a problem with green screen. I mean, I did a movie called Sin City that was all done on green screen and I kind of had fun. I have fun in everything I do, except this [press]."

"The makeup is Rick Baker. I keep mentioning that name but see, the thing with those horror movies from the ‘20s and Lon Chaney, Sr. and Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, those movies, the makeup artist in a lot of those movies was a guy named Jack Pierce. Part of the attraction to these monsters was not only were they scary, but they were cool. They were really cool. Frankenstein is a cool makeup. I mean, Boris Karloff is fantastic in the makeup, but the makeup was also cool. That’s something that I think Rick Baker understands more than anyone."

"We had a couple meetings with Rick Baker about this, it was like we were really on the same page. Rick Baker, what do you do, you turn into a canvas, let him paint all over your face. The only problem is taking it off. It takes about two hours, and we could say it’s painful. At some point I stopped liking Rick Baker during the process of taking it off. But then next time he comes around, he starts putting it on, fall in love with him again. It’s a love/hate relationship."

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