It had been a while since we’d heard any news on the revamped revival of the Universal Monsters following the smashing success of 2020’s The Invisible Man, but it sounds now like star Ryan Gosling’s Wolfman project is indeed moving forward, and with a new director, frequent Gosling collaborator Derek Cianfrance. According to Deadline, Invisible Man director Leigh Whannell had originally been meant to direct the Wolfman project but stepped away due to scheduling issues earlier this year. That left a hole for Cianfrance, who is also writing the Wolfman script. This comes after Cianfrance was Oscar nominated for Best Original Screenplay on 2019’s Sound of Metal.
Cianfrance had previously worked with Gosling in starring roles in such films as The Place Beyond the Pines and Blue Valentine, having largely been known for his work in serious dramas and indie films. A big studio take on 1941’s The Wolf Man would be significantly different territory for the writer-director, but Gosling apparently sold Cianfrance on the idea without much difficulty after the departure of Whannell.
“Horror movies were my first love,” said Cianfrance in a statement. “My entry into what cinema was capable of narratively, psychologically and aesthetically. Coupled with the opportunity to collaborate with Ryan again, this is truly a dream come true. I’m thrilled and inspired to work with the good folks at Blumhouse and Universal to bring this monster back to life in our collective unconscious.”
The original Wolf Man from 1941 was the story of Lon Chaney Jr.’s Larry Talbot, a man “pure in heart” who nevertheless is cursed to “become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright,” whether or not he “says his prayers by night,” as the old rhyme goes. One would expect this new Wolfman, on the other hand, to likely modernize the story and bring it into the current day in a similar manner to The Invisible Man, rather than being a period piece like the 2010 remake starring Benicio del Toro. Since the embarrassing failure of 2017’s The Mummy dissolved the planned “Dark Universe” of shared characters in the world of Universal Monsters, this film-by-film approach has seemingly fit the material much better, with more modest budgets and stories driven by each individual filmmaker rather than the needs of a shared cinematic universe. We’ll be curious to see what kind of new vision Cianfrance has for a particularly handsome, Ryan Gosling werewolf.