15 Transformative Facts About Teen Wolf
Teen Wolf is turning 30! Here are some hirsute bits of knowledge about the Michael J. Fox cult classic that never goes away.
1. IT WAS COMMISSIONED BECAUSE OF VALLEY GIRL.
Atlantic Entertainment Group wanted a small, high school movie of their own once they noticed that Valley Girl was an inexpensively produced movie that made a big profit. Recent Columbia film school grads Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman successfully pitched Teen Wolf in 10 to 15 minutes. They had to write the script in three weeks in order for the busy Family Ties actor Michael J. Fox to approve it.
2. IT WASN’T THE FIRST HIGH SCHOOL TEENAGE WEREWOLF MOVIE.
Both 1957’s I Was a Teenage Werewolf and 1981’s Full Moon High beat Teen Wolf to the punch.
3. MICHAEL J. FOX BECAME FAMOUS DURING PRODUCTION.
It was over the course of the shooting of the movie that NBC moved Family Ties to the post-Cosby Show slot, launching it from the 17th most watched show in America to second. After Fox became a superstar, a scene took longer to shoot than normal because female extras joyously screamed when the star walked out of the school.
4. ROD DANIEL WAS HIRED AS DIRECTOR BECAUSE HE KNEW WHAT THE MOVIE WAS ABOUT.
While other directorial candidates told Fox that the movie was about a werewolf, Daniel said it was about a father and son. Rod’s son Lucas later said he had a great childhood because his father worked out his issues with his own dad by directing Teen Wolf.
5. JAMES HAMPTON INITIALLY AUDITIONED TO PLAY COACH FINSTOCK.
After reading for Finstock, Fox asked him to read the part of his father, too. Hampton might have regretted doing that; the werewolf makeup made him feel claustrophobic, and it took four hours to apply.
6. RHONDA WAS FAMILIAR TO SOME MOVIEGOERS.
Lynda Wiesmeier was Playboy’s “Playmate of the Month” in July 1982. She also appeared in Real Genius in 1985.
7. THE VAN SURFING WAS BASED ON SOMETHING ONE OF THE WRITERS ACTUALLY DID IN COLLEGE.
8. AN NFL PLAYER LEGALLY CHANGED HIS NAME TO 'STYLEZ.'
In 2008, Tampa Bay Buccanners defensive end Greg White became Stylez White because he loved the character so much.
9. MICK WAS KILLED OFF HIS SOAP OPERA TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE.
Mark Arnold, who played Mick, played Joe Perkins on Santa Barbara after shooting Teen Wolf. Since his contract was expiring and he wanted to be available to promote the movie when it was released, the show’s producers decided to have his character get shot and fall out of a window.
10. FOX WAS A BAD BASKETBALL PLAYER.
Yes, even with two weeks of basketball coaching. Loyola Marymount sophomore basketball player Jeff Glosser was much better, so he was hired as Fox's hoops double. He sometimes wore the werewolf makeup for 12 hours, and could only eat milkshakes or soup. When they initially misspelled his name in the credits, Glosser’s new friend Fox made sure that the error was corrected.
11. THE STUDIO WANTED FOX TO DRESS LIKE SPICOLI.
Fox was satisfied with the clothes Scott Howard was working with, and shut down any further talk of it.
12. SCOTT HOWARD WAS SUPPOSED TO APPEAR ON THE TONIGHT SHOW.
The only scene in the script that wasn’t shot was one in which the teen wolf would have a sit-down with Johnny Carson. Daniel decided to keep the movie exclusively set in Nebraska (even though all scenes were shot in California.)
13. NO, THEY DIDN’T NOTICE THE INFAMOUS EXTRA AND HIS EXTRAS.
Nobody involved with production noticed the basketball game attendee who briefly exposed himself until it was mentioned on VH1 a few years ago.
14. ITALY AND BRAZIL SHAMELESSLY TRIED TO CAPITALIZE ON FOX’S BACK TO THE FUTURE SUCCESS.
In Italy, Scott was renamed Marty, you know, like Marty McFly, Fox’s Back to the Future character. In Brazil, the movie was titled O Garoto do Futuro, which translates to The Boy of the Future (there is no time travel in Teen Wolf). In the United States, Teen Wolf came in second on its opening weekend to Back to the Future, even though Back to the Future was in its eighth week.
15. THE WRITERS AND DIRECTOR THOUGHT THEY MADE A BOX OFFICE BOMB.
The cheaply made movie ended up grossing an impressive $33 million (in 1985 dollars). But when Loeb, Weisman, and Daniel went to an afternoon screening on opening day, only four people showed up. After a depressing dinner they went to Westwood, a “college town,” for a 7:30 p.m. showing, and discovered it was sold out. That audience—and filmmakers—had a great time.