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'The Wolfman'

January 17, 2010

CAST: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt. Directed by Joe Johnston.

BACK STORY: "It's a monster movie with a great story," says director Johnston of the film. "It's got all the gore and the action and terrifying moments, but it also has these relationships that will make it appeal to a much broader audience than just the fanboys."

The film, inspired by the original 1940s production, stars Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot, a nobleman who notices frightening changes within himself while on a quest to find his brother, who has vanished. While the film uses all the names from the original story, it's set in 1891 to allow for a "Victorian sort of horror look of London," the director said.

Johnston relied entirely on computer graphics technology for Del Toro's transformation into the wolfman, opting not to use prosthetics. While filming, Del Toro took liberty with his character's insanity. "He broke the frame of the wheelchair that he was strapped into twice because he was sort of contorting and convulsing and got so violent that he was shaking it around," Johnston says. "It was a scary process -- you almost want to cut the camera and say, 'Are you OK?' "

FILM CLIP: Hopkins, who plays Talbot's estranged father in the film, often improvised on set. In one scene set in an asylum, the actor suddenly began playing a religious hymn on a harmonica to set off the bedlam of the inmates. "I just decided to play this harmonica and I didn't know why," Hopkins says. "Acting isn't difficult. You show up and do your lines and that's it. Some actors choose to make things difficult -- I just show up and do it."

-- Amy Kaufman

NEXT: "Date Night"

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