In a tonal departure for the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney+’s Halloween TV special “Werewolf by Night” took viewers on a journey back to ‘30s and ‘40s era black-and-white horror B-movies, following heiress Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) and disguised lycanthrope Jack Russell (Gael García Bernal) on a mythical quest to retrieve the coveted bloodstone that will signify a new leader among the monster-hunting troupe.
Directed by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino, who wanted the film to pay homage to movies from decades past, “Werewolf by Night” is very much a singular project that isn’t indebted to or reliant on other MCU properties.
“It was just the mixture of bringing in what I did learn about her and trying to make that seep in there in any which way I could,” Donnelly told TheWrap in a recent interview, “but I suppose it was lovely just to be able to treat this as exactly what it was, which was just a one-off standalone thing where we weren’t beholden to everything else. I wasn’t beholden to the character from the comics and we weren’t having to connect everything up to the rest of the MCU. It just felt like we were making a Halloween movie, exactly what Michael had pitched to me.”
Donnelly credits 1931’s “Frankenstein,” 1974’s “Young Frankenstein” and Hammer Horror films like “Dracula” as some of her favorites that informed her performance. And though “The Nevers” star has characterized the film as a sheltered “indie” project of sorts, her fighting instruments are at the ready should the multiverse come calling.
“Yes, certainly,” the actress responded when asked if she would return to the world. “The thing that I love about this particular story for Elsa is that we get such a sense that we’re only at the beginning of something for her; she’s not introduced as the character that we know from the comics. It’s her pre-that or maybe she has been that and something has happened — we don’t know. And so it does feel like it’s only this little taster of many, many layers that are there underneath and a huge backstory.”
At the film’s conclusion, Elsa has learned of Jack’s true identity, as he transforms into a werewolf and enables their escape from Bloodstone captivity, sparing her life and awaking in a forest with the friendly monster Ted.
“Any opportunity to explore [a follow-up], I would leap at, and I would also love to explore that relationship between Elsa and Jack as well,” Donnelly continued. “That’s just one that is just touched on and you see the beginning of something blossoming and we don’t know what that is. And I love working with Gael. I would be very, very happy to — just call me.”
“Werewolf by Night” is now streaming on Disney+.