True Blood’s Real Wolves

June 5, 2010 by  

Season 3 of True Blood will start airing on June 13.  But while the actors were still filming the final scenes, there was some angst over meeting the deadline for filming the werewolf scenes.  That’s because they were using real wolves and real wolves shed their winter coats.  It would not work to have a 120 pound gray wolf look smaller and less viscous for attacking.

An article in the Wall Street Journal it talked about the wolves that were “rented” for the show.  A golden timber wolf named Thunder was cast as a werewolf and you’ll recognize him by his deep amber eyes.  And renting a wolf is a lot more complicated than you would think.

Firstly, wolves are very skittish and are most comfortable in packs.  So along with the “hired” wolf comes his trainer and an entourage of pack mates.  They eat 3-4 pounds of raw meat each, along with other high-protein food and require frequent breaks.

And the human actors are not off the hook.  As Alcide Herveaux, Joe Manganiello had to sit through several safety seminars.  Actors must be warned repeatedly not to have any food on the premises and perfume and cologne are prohibited.  These are rules from the American Humane Association’s Film & TV Unit.

The wolves are allowed time to get used to the set by arriving the day before the shoot and allowed to sniff around.  They rest in air-conditioned trailers between scenes.

Each wolf has its own capabilities, such as standing on a mark or jumping on cue or running fast.  So sometimes a body double is required.  And wolves do not have the facial expressions that dogs have.  Hybrids – ¾ wolf and ¼ dog – are used for some scenes.  One such hybrid had his coat dyed brown for his stand-in shot.

According to the article, both Joe and actress Brit Morgan, who we’ll see as werewolf Debbie Pelt, had some close calls.  Joe was eating turkey during a break when he was yelled at.  “Are you out of your mind?  The wolves are coming.”  He made a mad dash off the sound stage.

Brit was in a scene where she kicked open a door just as two hybrid wolves leaped on either side of her.  Getting excited, one hybrid snapped at her hand.  She was lucky.  She could have become lunch.  By the way, that turned out to be a great scene for her!

Comparing the biting capacity of a wolf to a German Shepherd dog, the International Wolf Center statistics say it’s 1500 pounds per square inch to 750 pounds per square inch.

Referring to other Hollywood films on werewolves, True Blood creator Alan Ball said,

“In our world, werewolves are shifters who turn into wolves.  They don’t turn into giant wolves the size of minivans.  They don’t turn into human-looking wolves.”

So we won’t be looking for the “four-legged hound from hell”.  But Season 3 of True Blood is sure going to be a wild ride.

SOURCE:  online.wsj.com

Photo credit:  HBO Inc. via online.wsj.com

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    • Loleaf

      Yes Alan Ball said that they were hybrids… Half wolf half husky on some and other mixes but he said that he didn’t know the exact mix for all. But they are beautiful whatever the mixes. You can watch the video here and see for yourself.

  • Loleaf

    Wolves are very majestic, beautiful, and misunderstood creatures! I agree with Jane, they are not dogs, they have so much raw power behind them that no human can fully train, regardless of what they think. There have been so many instances where people believe that they can treat as an average dog, and in the end have to get rid of them due to predatory and alpha instincts around kids. 🙁

    Here is a website that I donate to that take care of wolves that have been injured in the wild and wolf hybrids that people can no longer take care of. They are so beautiful!!!! 🙂

    http://www.wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org

  • JANE

    I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO MEET 3 BEAUTIFUL WOLVES, AT A PLACE CALLED “MERLIN’S VISION”. THEY ARE SURE NOTHING LIKE DOGS, EVEN A LITTLE BIT. THEY HAVE SUCH A POWERFUL AURA AROUND THEM. YOU KNOW YOU ARE IN THE COMPANY OF SOMETHING WILD AND WONDERFUL SO VERY BEAUTIFUL !

  • lizzie

    Thanks Caryl. These wolf actors are great! Poor Joe, fancy eating a turkey sanger and then being escorted off set! Those wolves would have made turkey mince of him! Brit also received a souvenier of her time spent on the TB set!