Inspector Francis Aberline (Hugo Weaving) is based on Frederick Abberline, a Scotland Yard Inspector that investigated London's Jack the Ripper murders in 1888. This fantasy version of him very much resembles the one in From Hell (2001).
This is the first direct remake of a Universal monster movie involving Sir Anthony Hopkins. The Wolf Man (1941) was producd from an original screenplay. He was, however, in Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation (not a remake) of Bram Stoker's Dracula, as the vampire hunter Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
When Rick Baker, who became a Make-up Artist because of films like The Wolf Man (1941), heard that this film was being made, he was working on Norbit (2007). He then went into an executive's office to tell them he had to do the make-up.
Joe Johnston signed on to make the film three weeks ahead of principal photography. This late start was one of the main reasons why he employed CGI in the werewolf transformations, as there simply wasn't time to design new make-up effects.
Was at first slated to hit cinemas in 2007, but difficulties to find a director made this release date impossible. Then a new release date was set for February 2009, then November 2009, and then finally February 2010.
One scene involving frozen corpses, was shot in the village of Lacock, Wiltshire, England, which is conserved by Britain's National Trust organization. Universal donated five thousand pounds to the Trust, in return for letting them film there.
Danny Elfman was the original composer on the film and recorded a complete score inspired by Wojciech Kilar's score for Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). His score was rejected, as it did not fit the new tone of the film after several re-shoots and delays. Paul Haslinger was supposed to replace him, but Universal pulled the plug on that, and decided to re-instate Elfman's gothic score.
This is Benicio Del Toro's second time playing a "wolfman". His first feature film role was that of a "dog-faced boy" in Pee Wee Herman's Big Top Pee-wee (1988). Both films had music scored by Danny Elfman, and were slammed by critics as weaker imitations of earlier films.
Rick Baker compared his experience on this, as the same as his experience on making An American Werewolf in London (1981). He said, about the werewolf make-up, "David Naughton basically had no body hair, but Benicio Del Toro is so hairy, making him up as the Wolfman was so easy."
Early in pre-production, Mason Shumaker was considered for the role of Lawrence Talbot (Wolfman). However, Joe Johnston eventually thought that Shumaker was too young for the part, and the studio wanted to go with a more bankable name.
During a 2011 speech at the Savannah Film Festival, Ron Meyer, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Universal Studios, said that this movie was one of the two worst movies that Universal had ever made. The other one he singled out was Babe: Pig in the City (1998).
We first meet David Schofield (Constable Nye) in the local village pub. He made a similar appearance in "The Slaughtered Lamb" in An American Werewolf in London (1981). This movie is also about an American werewolf in London.
Max von Sydow: Seen only in the Director's Cut in an uncredited cameo, he plays a character who says he purchased the silver-headed cane at Gevaudan "lifetimes ago". Gevaudan (a French county now renamed Lozere) was famous for a series of attacks on humans in the 1760s, attributed to a werewolf-like "Beast of Gevaudan," elaborated on in Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001).
Two other endings were filmed, but not used. In one, Lawrence bites Gwen on the neck before she shoots him with the silver bullet. She looks up and stares at the moon as he dies. In the other ending, Gwen does not manage to shoot Lawrence before she dies from his attack, and he stands up and stares directly at the camera and growls. Ultimately, the decision was made to have Gwen shoot Lawrence, and escape unharmed.
The only make-up effect, with which Rick Baker wasn't involved, was the feral mountain boy, who bit Sir John. The reason for this, is because he felt it was a mistake to show it the way seen in the film. Roz Abery designed that make-up.