Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms, and the autumn moon is jazzy bright. Indeed, the thought of transforming into a monstrous, bloodthirsty beast has never seemed so effortlessly cool now that we know Ryan Gosling is going to be the next The Wolfman.
News of the Oscar nominated actor (and one-time heartthrob) agreeing to go furry for Universal Pictures came late Friday evening. According to Variety, Gosling is already firmly onboard and Universal executives are currently interviewing directors for a new take on one of the all-time horror classics. Apparently, Cory Finley (Thoroughbreds, Bad Education) is the frontrunner but a lot seems to be unknown at the moment, including when the movie is set, albeit it’s presumed it will be in modern times like Universal’s successful reboot of The Invisible Man with Elisabeth Moss from earlier this year.
The remake falls in line with Universal’s new-new attempt at revitalizing their classic legacy in monster horror. The original The Wolf Man was released in December 1941 (the same month as the Pearl Harbor attacks) and surprised studio executives and audiences alike with its soulfully tragic undertones, even in spite of its limited budget. To this day Lon Chaney Jr.’s transformation into a bipedal werewolf (thanks to Jack Pierce’s astonishing makeup) remains a defining image of “werewolves.”
Nevertheless, the studio has struggled remaking it time and again. Excluding John Landis’ semi-remake in the other classic werewolf movie, An American Werewolf in London (1981), the studio spent years trying to remake it officially, leading to the visually evocative but moribund The Wolfman (2010), starring Benicio Del Toro, and again during their misbegotten attempt to make a shared cinematic universe of superhero movies based on the classic Universal Monsters. That version of The Wolfman never even got to casting before 2017’s The Mummy reboot, starring Tom Cruise, crashed and burned by turning the film into an adventure story starring Cruise as a hero with supernatural powers from Egypt.
The prospect of Gosling starring in this latest attempt to redo The Wolfman is encouraging. By and large, Gosling is extremely selective in what films he’s made in the last decade, and many of them have been among the better recent films in their genres. There were few better (or illusionary) crime dramas than Drive in 2011, and La La Land and The Nice Guys were among our favorite movies of the 2010s. His Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man, which he and director Damien Chazelle made at Universal, is also somehow underappreciated for its vision and ambition.
So count us intrigued about the First Man becoming a wolf… man.