Inspector Francis Aberline (Hugo Weaving) was 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).
When Rick Baker (Gypsy Man/First Killed), who became a Make-up Artist because of movies like The Wolf Man (1941), heard that this movie 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.
Director Joe Johnston signed on to make this movie 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.
Producer and star Benicio Del Toro is a huge fan of The Wolf Man (1941), and remained attached to the remake ever since it was first announced in 2006, and passed through the hands of several directors.
This is the first direct remake of a Universal Pictures monster movie involving Sir Anthony Hopkins. The Wolf Man (1941) was produced from an original screenplay. He was, however, in Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation (not a remake) of Bram Stoker's Dracula, as vampire hunter Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Danny Elfman was the original composer on this movie 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 movie after several re-shoots and delays. Paul Haslinger was supposed to replace him, but Universal Pictures pulled the plug on that, and decided to re-instate Elfman's gothic score.
Was at first slated to hit theaters 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.
This is Benicio Del Toro's second time playing a "wolfman". His first theatrical movie role was that of "Duke the Dog-Faced Boy" in Pee Wee Herman's Big Top Pee-wee (1988). Both movies had music scored by Danny Elfman, and were slammed by critics as weaker imitations of earlier movies.
One scene involving frozen corpses, was shot in the village of Lacock, Wiltshire, England, which is conserved by Britain's National Trust organization. Universal Pictures donated five thousand pounds sterling to the Trust, in return for letting them film there.
The inscription in stone at the beginning of this movie, "Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright", was taken from The Wolf Man (1941). However, the original did say "wolfbane" rather than "wolfsbane".
Early in pre-production, Mason Shumaker was considered for the role of Lawrence Talbot (Wolfman). However, Director Joe Johnston eventually thought that Shumaker was too young for the part, and the studio wanted to go with a more bankable name.
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."
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 Pictures 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.
As Inspector Aberline (Hugo Weaving) talks to Mrs. Kirk (Lorraine Hilton) at the pub, a large advertisement reading "Odgen's" can be seen on the back of his newspaper. This is actually a period accurate add for Ogden Tobacco, a very popular brand of cigarettes that started in the 1860s in Britain, and existed fro more than a century. Interestingly, this company was the first to include collectible cards in its packs, featuring everything from historical figures to animals or exotic locations. Nowadays, Ogden's cards are priced collectibles and highly sought: One of the rarest and most popular ones was the 1920 famous actors series featuring Lon Chaney, Jr., the original Wolf Man.
In the original release, Lawrence Talbot is described as the greatest actor in America and a guest performer with the Royal Shakespeare company. This version includes a scene from Hamlet in which Benicio Del Toro's bad performance shows that he is completely unsuitable for playing Shakespeare. In the current revised version, there are images of Del Toro on stage as Hamlet, and a passing reference to his being an actor, but nothing more.
Francis Magee, who (unconfirmed) played the uncredited man in the bar early in this movie who first suggests a werewolf is the culprit, and Gemma Whelan, who played Gwen's (Emily Blunt's) maid, appeared on Game of Thrones (2011). Magee appeared as Yoren (2011 to 2012) and Whelan appeared as Yara Greyjoy (2012 to 2014 and 2016 to present).
Max von Sydow: Seen only in the Director's Cut in an uncredited cameo, he played 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).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Two other endings were filmed, but not used. In one, Lawrence (Benicio Del Toro) bites Gwen (Emily Blunt) 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 Talbot. The reason for this, is because he felt it was a mistake to show it the way seen in this movie. Roz Abery designed that make-up.