Benicio Del Toro The Wolfman LA Press ConferenceHow much did it transform your life and career to win an Oscar?
Benicio Del Toro: "I remember a lot about that day, but I think a lot. I don't know if I’d be here without that Oscar, to be honest with you. There’s something about the Oscar that gives you sort of stripes where you feel you can dare to walk into a studio like Universal and say, 'Hey guys, how about an idea of me playing the Wolfman?' I think that the Oscar gives you some kind of guts or something. It gives you the illusion that you can do it. It’s good for business."
Did you relate to Talbot’s struggle to be an actor when his father didn’t want him to?
Benicio Del Toro: "Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of people saying, 'Oh, this is a biopic of my life.' You know what they say about Puerto Ricans, right, on a full moon? You know what they say?"
Benicio Del Toro: "I’ll show you later. But no, it’s like there’s elements here, but the elements of the actor in this picture was done by Andrew Kevin Walker. Making my character into an actor in the movie is kind of subtle, but he’s doing Hamlet. Hamlet in the play, he is on a journey of revenge to take down his uncle who killed his father. So Andrew Kevin Walker put Lawrence Talbot into an actor who when he goes home and he tries to investigate what happened to his brother, he finds out it’s his father and then he’s got to do a journey similar to Hamlet to break the chain. So that’s the idea. It wasn’t like, 'Hey man, I’m an actor, my dad blah blah blah...' My dad was a tough, strict guy but also my dad was present. I did go away to school, but my dad was present. I had breakfast and dinner with my dad every day. That’s not the case with Lawrence Talbot."
Can you talk about working with director Joe Johnston?
Benicio Del Toro: "Yeah, well, at the beginning of this film we had a different director. It was going to be Mark Romanek. Two weeks into preproduction, at some point in preproduction, Mark Romanek stepped out and we had no director. The movie was already rolling and the character of Lawrence Talbot, which I had been talking to Mark Romanek and we’d been working together, Andrew Kevin Walker, the character of Lawrence Talbot was a little bit darker. It was a bit violent. There was a moment in which he tries to drink to someone. He was an actor. He was more of a reluctant hero, if anything."
"Then Joe Johnston came in. We had a meeting with him. We had to decide on a director fairly quick and he was ballsy enough to jump in and take the helm of this picture that was already moving, and we’re very grateful for him for doing that. So when he came in, that angle that we had on Mark Romanek started to change a little bit. I think it was Joe Johnston’s idea basically to keep him a little bit more on the noble side or being more of a noble character, more we could say straight up or straightforward type of character. I thought that was a good idea, especially for these movies because there’s already so many different levels to the movie. You don’t want to get too confused here and just make a movie about... It’s a fantasy movie, you don’t want it to turn into just a drama. So Joe came in and we started working in that direction. He was willing to explore things. As an actor, you go up to the director and you ask him, 'Hey, how about if I do this or if I do that?' And he was very collaborative, I think, with all the actors. With me he allowed me to explore this or that and it worked out. So I enjoyed working with him."
What was your creative process on the story itself? Did you ever incorporate the pentagram?
Benicio Del Toro: "The pentagram, I don't know if we played with that. We talked about maybe that the bite, as it was healing, it made a pentagram but it didn’t go in that direction. We wanted to keep the basis of the film, of the original there. Basically, the fact that there’s - it’s a good question also for the writer - but when Andrew Kevin Walker came in, we gave him the ball. 'Just run with it.' When he came back with this darker story between father and son and the Hamlet thing, I thought that was very cool. But he kept the silver bullet, the full moon and also the fact that the silver bullet will take him down, which I think is important for this movie. The monster, once you put a silver bullet in him, that’s it. We didn’t want to have the monster like...we wanted to have an end to the curse or the monster or whatever."
"So what else did we want to keep? The thing that Andrew Kevin Walker did that I also liked was that Lawrence Talbot would be more active. I think in the original, he’s a little bit more of a victim. In our version, he acts and he kind of like fights back. He almost becomes a detective. But those were things that we wanted to keep, and the fact that he comes from the States making it easier for me so I don’t have to speak with an English accent. The relationship with Gwen, too, gets closer a little bit more than the original. I don’t mind that either. Emily Blunt, I don’t mind getting close to Emily Blunt. So those were things that the writer, when he took the ball and he tossed it back our way, that I personally liked for a remake."