In the scene when Jack Nicholson realizes that his senses are all incredibly acute, when he is in his office building, there is a voice off camera that says "No. I'm not gonna do it." That line is said by Director Mike Nichols.
When Michelle Pfeiffer expressed interest in playing the part of Laura, Mike Nichols and the film's screenwriters wanted to make the part stronger and more important to the story, as it was basically a "woman in danger" trope in the original script. Some of the ideas considered were making her into an animal rights activist or a doctor, both of which would have given her a connection to Jack Nicholson's character and expanded on her conflict with her rich father. Ultimately, Pfeiffer accepted the role without it being hugely upgraded because she wanted to work with Nicholson and Nichols.
Mia Farrow was slated to play Charlotte Randall. Mike Nichols had to fight to let Farrow have the part, due to the film company's hesitancy over her being too controversial at the time (the then current Mia Farrow and Woody Allen trial). She had to take a salary cut but in the long run she had to bow out anyway, due to schedule conflicts.
Contrary to popular belief, the entire third act of the film was not re-shot. Only the shot of Will jumping over the bars of the stable Laura locked him in was added when the studio felt a small amount of extra action was needed. The cost of the shot was nearly a million dollars, to which Nichols referred to as: "$700,000 worth of aspirin for the studio."
John Williams was originally attached to compose the music for this film. Soon left the project after the film was delayed, and needed some time off after winning the Oscar for Schindler's List (1993), as he'd been working on Jurassic Park (1993), Schindler's List (1993), and overseeing the Boston Pops Orchestra in Boston.
While schmoozing with other guests at Raymond Alden's (Christopher Plummer's) dinner party, Will (Jack Nicholson) makes reference to "gay senior citizens" as proof that the world has already ended. Christopher Plummer went on to become the oldest actor, at eighty-two, to win an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for portraying a "gay senior citizen" in Beginners (2010).
When Will (Jack Nicholson) meets with Raymond Alden (Christopher Plummer) and his lawyer, on the bookshelves, you can see six Robert Jordan books: One copy of "The Eye of the World", one copy of "The Great Hunt", two copies of "The Dragon Reborn", and two copies of "The Shadow Rising".
When asked why she chose to take on the role of Laura, Michelle Pfeiffer simply stated that she: "didn't want to do another accent, didn't want to put on another wig, didn't want to put on another corset," but instead wanted: "to just do something modern day."
Producer Douglas Wick says there were two outlooks on the movie: Nichols saw Wolf as a film about loss and death whereas Nicholson, Harrison and Wick saw it as a celebration of oblivion and liberation.
For a while there was some uncertainty as to whether Raymond Alden would either be Laura's brother or her father, with Strick greatly championing the latter suggestion. At the same production meeting between Wick, Nichols and Strick where it was decided that Raymond Alden would be Laura's father, Nichols's assistant interrupted to tell the director that Mick Jagger was waiting outside. Jagger had been greatly interested in the part of Raymond Alden when the role was written as Laura's brother. Since it had been mainly his idea to change the character, Stick was tasked with delivering the news to Jagger that he was no longer right for the role.
According to Strick, the scene in which Will pees on Stuart's shoes in the men's room symbolized Harrison's flavor of writing, while the scene in which Will talks to himself into the mirror best represented his.
At the beginning of production, Jack Nicholson told Rick Baker that he was allergic to spirit gum. While he initially didn't believe him, Baker agreed to use a specific medical adhesive on Nicholson which made hand laying the hair on him very difficult as opposed to using spirit gum. One day after he made up James Spader using spirit gum, Baker unintentionally used the same bottle of spirit gum on Nicholson. Baker soon realized what he had done and hoped that Jack wouldn't find out seeing how nothing happened during the application. The next day, Baker was horrified to see that Nicholson wasn't lying as he entered the makeup trailer with large red swells on his face. Nicholson said, "Ricky boy, you used spirit gum, didn't you?" Baker apologized for the confusion and Nicholson stated, "Well, let's just hope it doesn't happen again." Fortunately for everyone, it didn't happen again.
Wesley Strick was brought in to rewrite the script because it was thought that Harrison's screenplay read too much like a novel. According to Strick, the two never met, but he got the feeling that Harrison resented Wick's involvement. Adding to the awkwardness was the fact that star Nicholson had been a close friend of Harrison's for many years. However Nichols was happy to have Strick's participation. Stick found another ally in lead actress Michelle Pfeiffer, whom he had collaborated with when he wrote Batman Returns, one of her most famous films.
According to Strick and Wick, Nichols felt in part that Wolf was about the death of God, the crumbling of Western civilization and the AIDS epidemic. At the same time, composer Ennio Morricone saw Wolf as a story about a man trapped in a dream.
Rick Baker stated that he really enjoyed working with Om Puri. His makeup was a stretch and stipple foundation with a foam latex bald cap and hair pieces to age him 20 years. Puri was equally excited to work with Baker and go through the makeup process.
According to Rick Baker, the makeup for the werewolves were heavily inspired by Jack P. Pierce's work in Werewolf of London (1935). The makeup consists of mostly hair and subtle appliances (pointed ears and a small piece in between the brows). James Spader had more facial appliances than Jack Nicholson because he needed more have more structure on his face in order to have the same power as Nicholson's face.
Dr. Alezais tells Will that on the night he was bitten, March 8th, the moon had been closest to the earth for the first time in 100 years. March 8, 1993 was the date of a super perigee moon (perigee meaning the closest the moon is to earth during its orbit).
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
The infection of Laura does not come from a bite but from the combination of two things. One is most likely the transmission during romance and the other being, as stated in the film, a wolf-like aspect of a person's character. The reason why Kate is not infected is because the second element is missing. She is more of a sheep and does not have the innate element of aggression.