One of this writer’s favorite films out of the 2019 Fantastic Fest lineup was Martin Krejcí’s The True Adventures of Wolfboy, which is centered around a teenager named Paul (played by IT Chapter One and Two’s Jaeden Martell), who has been bullied his whole life due to his resemblance to a werewolf and sets out on an adventure in search of his identity and meets a few colorful characters along the way.
While in Austin, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with Krejcí, and he discussed what initially attracted him to the film’s script, which was written by Olivia Dufault, collaborating with Martell, and how Legacy Effects was instrumental in making sure the titular character looked perfect for The True Adventures of Wolfboy.
I really loved this movie, Martin, and the way you framed out these different parts of the film really added to this classic fairy tale feeling to this journey that Paul is on. In some ways, I felt like this film hearkened back to some old-school Tim Burton movies, where you would follow this outsider who was trying to find themselves in this world, and the wonderfully odd characters they’d meet along the way. What was the initial appeal for you coming into Wolfboy?
Martin Krejcí: It was definitely the script, which was really beautifully written, and what attracted me to it was its lightness, and the way it really reflected real life, that even though it has worked with certain schemes, and it's something you've seen before, the structure and the chaptering, and the whole theme about an outsider in the world. What I really liked was the way the script approaches everything felt quite fresh and original. So, even though it works with certain clichés, then it turns them upside down.
The outcome of this film is very hopeful, just in the realization that in a way we are all outsiders, because there isn't such a thing as normal anymore, and everyone is weird and different, and outside the norm in their own way. That realization is very liberating. So that's something which really gravitated to me. And the way Olivia worked with the structure and with the whole build of the film was also very refreshing. And one last note, when you were talking about Tim Burton, I guess the first conversation you had with Olivia was when I read it, and me being from Europe, I guess I understood the feeling of Paul, and the other characters he meets because of my own cultural differences, so it was something that I could connect with, and I can feel in my own life.
So therefore, it was a very exciting challenge to look at that film, and give it a style, and frame it in the world which it's pushed, it's twisted, but it's all real. So that's what we set up as rules, that we are not creating something from scratch, but we are looking at the world around us from hopefully a different angle.
Absolutely, and I think what really works so well about this is that there are these elements that almost feel larger than life, but it's the way that you ground them that makes it so relatable. Which brings us to Jaeden, who is excellent in the film and incredibly relatable as well. Can you discuss working with him?
Martin Krejcí: It may sound like a cliché, but Jaeden really is a one of a kind. When we started the casting process, I was ready to look at thousands and thousands of kids, and he came within the first 50, and he nailed it immediately. The way I did it originally, we did first rounds, where we would just have a conversation. And then we did rounds where we gave to the candidates ski masks, because we just wanted to see the eyes, and Jaeden, he has this depth and intelligence which shines through his eyes no matter what. As a human being, he's very focused, and very nice, and sometimes it felt he really is the most experienced person on the set, to be honest.
He calmed everything down whenever he was there and then he gave a certain rhythm to whatever we did. He can also deliver his lines in a way that feels very natural, as if it's coming from him obviously, but without losing its meaning. The way he plays with it was very interesting for me. He also went through torture throughout the film, because obviously all the prosthetics and everything were limiting his ability to act. In the beginning, he spent five hours in the chair, and then as they went on, they made it better and easier, but still it was three hours of him being in that chair before anyone would even come to the set. I didn't even know this, but he told me at the end that was actually really painful for him, so he really put a lot of himself into this role.
Just in terms of the look of Paul in the film, because we've seen Wolfboy-esque characters throughout the years, I thought the way that you guys approached it was incredibly smart. It doesn't look like something you'd see on the front of National Enquirer, where somebody just glued a bunch of hair on somebody's face, and they're like, "Hey, we found a wolfboy!” Was there any research that you guys did, or anything like that into finding that look for the film?
Martin Krejcí: The look of Paul was something which always was going to be absolutely crucial, because no matter what we will do with the rest of the film, if he doesn't look and appear convincing, then that's it, because he's the main character. I live in Brentwood, Los Angeles, just close to Venice, and there was a freak show for tourists, and there was a man with this disease. I went in, and we had a meeting, and we became friends and he is this really super nice person. And what I've learned through that experience, was that during the first 10 minutes, you completely forget about the way he looks, because at the end it is the eyes he communicates through, and I had completely forgotten about his condition, truly I did, as we talked.
So, that was something which I wanted to do with our character Paul, where it would be his eyes that would draw you in. So, that was a guiding line for me as to how Paul should look. And then, we had Alan Scott and the whole team at Legacy Effects who are absolutely the best in prosthetics. Most of them came from working under Stan Winston, so they’re the best of the best.
But everyone from the effects team who worked on this film were amazing. It was half a year prior to the production when we started doing all the testing, and they lined up absolutely the best people in the industry to work on this. And so, I was just really trying to make sure that the look of it is the right balance between realistic, but something that would also play cinematically. You’ll notice there’s some light hair around his eyes, but we didn't want to go too much to a cutesy way, because then he’d look like a teddy bear. There were a lot of trials and errors along the way, but Alan and his team at Legacy, they just completely nailed it.
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