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[This story contains major spoilers from the first season of Wolf Pack.]
Sarah Michelle Gellar is already quite familiar with the supernatural world, but what drew her to the Paramount+ series Wolf Pack goes deeper into what the show represents.
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress’ latest project, which she stars in and executive produces, has her embracing werewolves, but in a way that gives her the opportunity to discuss important real-world topics, which she says is the reason she did the show. “Supernatural stories, in a really odd way, allow you to tell the most superhuman stories,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter.
While the series, written and produced by Jeff Davis, starts off as a “slow burn,” Gellar’s character eventually has two twists that most probably didn’t see coming — including when she’s revealed to be a werewolf. By the end of the first season, the high school-set horror show has answered many questions surrounding Gellar’s shocking character, all while creating new ones. She explains, “In the last episode, you’ll get to see everything you came for, for a supernatural Sarah Michelle Gellar show.”
Wolf Pack follows teenagers Everett (Armani Jackson) and Blake (Bella Shepard) when their worlds are completely changed after being bitten by a werewolf during a mysterious wildfire in southern California. They soon realize two other teens, siblings Luna (Chloe Robertson) and Harlan (Tyler Gray), are much like them. As they all try to navigate the chaos, including a murderous werewolf, they realize it’s not just any ordinary pack they’re forming.
Along the way, Luna and Harlan’s adoptive father, Garrett (Rodrigo Santoro) is trying to protect their secret by helping the supposed arson investigator Kristin Ramsey (Gellar), as she tries to get to the bottom of who started the wildfire. But she can’t really point fingers at anyone, because she herself has a huge secret — actually, several secrets — that will change the pack forever.
Gellar previously told The Hollywood Reporter, in a January cover story, that initially she “wasn’t even going to read the script.
“I liked Jeff’s work, but I wasn’t going to do a werewolf show,” she added. “But they convinced me to give it a look, and I loved what he was doing in the pilot. It reminds me of Buffy, not the show itself, but the way it addresses the horrors we’re facing today: anxiety, the stress of daily life, feeling isolated.”
Following season one’s surprising finale, Gellar talks to THR about the response she’s received on the series, her character’s shocking twists and the deeper messages entwined in the plot. In the chat below, she also teases what could be ahead in season two, if they get one.
How do you feel the reception to the first season has been?
Honestly, it’s better than I could’ve expected. It’s hard to launch a new show these days, and there are so many channels and so much to watch. I’ve been so excited to watch the weekly growth and how people are getting into it. I knew that in the beginning, people were a little frustrated because I wasn’t in that much of it and I kept telling everyone, “I promise, it’s worth it. It’s a slow burn.” I feel like it all turned when she hit the security guard and killed him and everyone’s like, “Wait, what? What happened here?” I’m very proud of the finale and it’s crazy to me that Jeff had never directed before that, because he was such a natural and he can tell his story better than anyone can.
During the second half of the season, your character, Kristin Ramsey, was such a plot driver. What feedback have you received?
People were like, “Wait. She’s the bad guy? Like, what’s happening here?” I told everyone, in the last episode you’ll get to see everything you came for — for a supernatural Sarah Michelle Gellar show, you’re going to get it. Sometimes, you have to wait a little bit.
How did you prepare for the two big plot twists this season?
I had to look at the show holistically, because I knew from the get-go why I was there and what was happening, whereas not everyone knew. So I had to make the early scenes make sense if you go back and watch it now that I knew what was really happening. It was almost like playing two characters. You want it to make sense when you watch it the first time, but if you watch it again, knowing that information, maybe there are other things you notice.
There were definitely a lot of questions throughout the season that kept audiences wondering.
I love shows when you set it up with these questions — I want them to be answered. I don’t want to wait to season five to get some of the answers. And so I love that Jeff was able to answer a lot of questions, and then create new questions and still keep it exciting, but at least give answers to piecing [it together]. It was a little like a sixth sense, because a lot of the things we had to shoot twice. [For example,] we shot the interrogation scene and then [for the second time,] you can really understand what she was doing in the interrogation scene. You start to realize what was happening.
At the end of episode eight, Kristin clarifies that she wants her family back. Do you think this was her plan all along?
Initially, she didn’t set the first fire. The fire happened and the cubs were really little and she put them where she thought they would be safe and she was right. They were safe, they were found, they were rescued. She just couldn’t find them. And then obviously, the tragedy of what happened to Baron. I think she thought he was dead for a very long time. Then only later on did she learn that he was not, and she had to figure out a way to get back her family once she found all of them, because it was one thing to find them, but then how do you get them back? I think, initially, she planned to dispose of Garrett. She had no use [for him anymore]. But when she realized he’s a great father — she said before the kid’s father was not a great father — she has use for him, but she wants it on her terms.
Especially in the final moments of the finale, Kristin clearly expresses what she wants.
It’s a big statement on what’s happening [in nature]. Jeff and I spoke a lot about trophic cascades before we started filming and what’s happening to the animal kingdom right now as we’re having these fires and deforestation and all of these things that we’re changing. Not just their home, but it’s changing the animal kingdom that has survived for centuries based on predators and prey. So, do I think [Kristin is] a good guy or bad guy? I think she’s an animal, is the truth. Her motivations are all good. She wants her family, but she’s also a predator and she’s going to do things that a predator would do. It complicates it in a really cool way, as opposed to just being a villain that’s doing things in their minds for good, she is an animal. There are certain things that are different between humans and animals.
If there’s a second season, could audiences expect to learn more about Kristin’s past?
I think so. I think you’ll understand how she found the kids. I think you’ll definitely learn more. But until you learn about her, you can’t really know what happened to her.
What do you think Kristin’s take is on the unknown caller and the impact they’re having on the pack and her plan?
Kristin is used to being the apex predator and someone else is messing up her plan, so she needs to find out who’s one step ahead of her and why.
In the final episode at the end, viewers see the pack gets split up. Was there a bigger reason behind that?
That’s the whole thing — they finally find their pack, but what happens when you find your pack? Sometimes life intervenes and takes your pack away. And what lengths are you willing to go to get your pack back? And do you even want to be part of that pack? Blake is like, “Look, our lives were easier before we were part of this pack.” And Everett’s like, “No, but mine’s better now.” It’s the same argument that Kristin has with Blake about turning Danny [Nevada Jose]. [Kristin] says to her, “Blake, you say you don’t want him to change because it’s the right thing to say, but wouldn’t you want him to have a better life if he could?”
Mental health is a large discussion in the series. How important was it for you to have that representation as a part of the show?
It’s why I did the show. In the beginning, it was hard to explain what my part was and why I was so drawn to it. But I’ve always said that one of my favorite things about Buffy was the utilization of the monsters being metaphors for the horrors of high school, of adolescence. By the way, I just said to my daughter the other day, “Seventh grade sucks, it just really does.” I said, “I’ll tell you right now, I’ve been alive a long time and I’ve had a lot of bad in my life. I’ve lost a lot of people. I still think the worst year of my life is probably seventh grade.” So that says something, right?
But what I loved about the show was that this show is doing the same thing. Instead of using the monsters for adolescents, we were using the monsters for the modern-day pains that we have, which is the anxiety of life and how stressful life has really become for everybody, at every age. [For example,] isolation in the pandemic. COVID really isolated us. We didn’t use the word pack during COVID — but your pod was essentially your pack, and those were the people who helped us get through those three years of loneliness and feeling alone, and you realize how important your pack is. So I love that statement that Jeff was making. And then you add on top of it, the commentary on the planet that he’s making, and you realize that there’s a bigger picture. What I really learned the last couple of years is that supernatural stories, in a really odd way, allow you to tell the most superhuman stories.
You’ve worked on several sci-fi fantasy projects during your career. How did you prepare for this role differently?
I don’t know if you prepare differently. I mean, I think people have their ways they prepare. I don’t know if it really changes per role. I had to learn a little bit about what an arson investigator does. That one was new to me. [Also] animals, the longer she stays human, the more human she’s becoming, but there are still characteristics that definitely are animal-like.
What conversations have you had regarding a second season?
We plan to do one. We’d like to. We haven’t gotten the official word. I think it’s a tough time right now with the strike coming up. It’s hard, but our numbers have been great and people are still really finding the show and getting excited about it, so I’m hopeful for a season two.
Do you already have ideas in mind for a potential second season?
Yes, we’re already starting to write. … I think we would delve a lot more into Kristin and how she got here and what took so long and where she’s been. I think you’ll definitely have more of that. And I think now, she’s going to have to figure out who the voice on the phone is.
Interview edited for clarity.
Season one of Wolf Pack is currently streaming on Paramount+.
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