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Published October 11, 2022

‘Werewolf by Night’: Gael García Bernal on Creating A New Monster for the MCU

"There were these interesting behind-the-scenes conversations every time we cut where we would talk about monsters."

werewolf by night

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is taking a detour into some dark and spooky places. Marvel Studios’ Werewolf by Night is now streaming on Disney+, giving viewers a glimpse into a new corner of the ever-expanding universe where monsters roam the Earth. But don’t be fearful of them — they’re actually very friendly once you get to know them.

Gael García Bernal plays the titular Werewolf by Night, Jack Russell, who is on the hunt (pun intended) to find and rescue his friend Ted (the towering Man-Thing) who has been placed into the Bloodstone family garden for other hunters to pursue him. All Jack wants to do is free Ted, so it’s convenient that he bumps into Elsa Bloodstone, because all she wants is the famed Bloodstone, which has actually been attached to Ted’s back.

However, of course, nothing goes according to plan, and soon Jack’s werewolf side is revealed to all.

Ahead of the release of the Special Presentation in Disney+, hopped on a video chat with Bernal to discuss monsters, mayhem, and more. 

MARVEL.COM: What was your favorite moment from filming the special, whether it was on camera or behind the scenes?

Gael García Bernal: Just encountering the creative dialogue with [director] Michael Giacchino and Laura [Donnelly] as well. Laura especially, She's such a fanatic for Halloween and the monsters. Michael is also, but there were these interesting behind-the-scenes conversations every time we cut where we would talk about monsters.

We would talk about all the possibilities. It's great because with a project like this, there is that opportunity to ponder about what the characters had done before and what will they [do next]. That's incredible. That doesn't happen with other films. With other films, you're not thinking about that.

But in this case, there was a chance to imagine where this leads to or how can we construct it. Obviously, Michael has many, many, many, many ideas. But that was one of the delights of being invited into this project is to build and construct a character like this.

MARVEL.COM: My next question is tied to that, which is how did you work with Michael to find Jack's heart in the story? In watching it, he's a monster. But he's also incredibly caring and compassionate. So how did you guys get to that point?

Gael García Bernal: Among the many aspects of a character like this, definitely the half-canine kind of aspect of the character, where all of these things helped me build the character and give body and color to the character.

One of them, for example, was werewolves who lived many, many years. So who knows? Jack Russell maybe has been alive for the last 200, 300, or 400 years. So how would a character like this or someone that has lived so many years would react to the mundane or to the day-to-day? How would the conversations be engaged? You know, so things like that. And there's a big possibility with a character like this to go into different tangents and to try out different things. So that's how we started to build it and put it together.

And at the same time, you kind of establish a little concept, but then you try it. And sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. And then you fix it. It's a process, I guess.

MARVEL.COM: In terms of working with Laura on Jack and Elsa's relationship, it seems very contentious by virtue of the competition. What was it like building that tension and that reluctant trust with Elsa?

Gael García Bernal: They immediately sense, especially Jack, who has lived many years and can read the room a little bit, and he can understand a little bit who stands where. He knows more or less what Laura is up to in a way, the character of Elsa Bloodstone. So we just started to try out things and started to establish, OK, what would the conversations be about, what the approach would be, and what both characters are looking for.

One of the things I mentioned at the beginning that I loved talking with Laura about because she really likes these characters. She's a big fan of this character. So it was incredible to talk with her. And also, she's a great actress and a great person to work with.

MARVEL.COM: The other relationship Jack has is with Ted. What is that relationship like between the two characters? You get a sense of history there.

Gael García Bernal: Yeah. Well, a lot of the things that I think can be part of their relationship is stuff that I won't say because, you know, I will spoil it. But not only that, I will spoil it for the future or possibilities that can exist. So no, no, let's not talk about that.

MARVEL.COM: What are you most excited for fans to see with this special presentation?

Gael García Bernal: First of all, it's interesting, the whole kind of Horror genre. I mean, it's one of the most stylized genres of filmmaking. I'm interested to see the fanatics of this genre, how they engaged with this sort of also experimental kind of length, which is-- in Spanish, we would call it, like “half a movie.” And that was a kind of format that existed before, no?

There were these films that were only like 50 minutes or something like that, which is actually quite a good length to tell something and to give a taste of something. And I love the fact that it leaves everyone with anticipation, you know, the curiosity of what will happen next. I think that and also getting to know these characters and also all the experimentation that we went through. The film is in black and white.

That is something that is quite interesting nowadays in this very well-groomed visual culture that we all have. Let's see what that reaction is. I think everybody appreciates that it's very different. So it's fascinating. I don't know. Let's see what the consequences of this will be.

MARVEL.COM: How did you prepare to become Jack Russell? Did you read any of the comics? Did you watch old movies? What was the preparation like?

Gael García Bernal: I did those two things that you mentioned. But at the same time, I started to read a lot about the mythology of werewolves as well, along with half-human creatures in different cultures of the world. I started to investigate a little bit and started to place it also in a kind of a sociological anthropological maybe kind of archetype of society, and where do they fit?

And I think there are so many opportunities there to tell so many things about the state of things nowadays. But also the fact that the monsters, what do they represent? Are they only the sublimation of our traumas, of our collective traumas? But are they also an excuse to persecute some people? It can have those consequences, you know, those kinds of tangents and argumentative tangents as well. So I got really interested in this character because of all these possibilities.

Werewolf by Night is now streaming on Disney+. 


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