“I shook my head and rolled my eyes: ‘A remake, really? You want to remake it now?’ It’s true there’s a new generation out there, but why do they need to see a new version of that?”
Back in 2014, when we first spoke to original An American Werewolf In London star David Naughton, who played the doomed titular protagonist, David Kessler, it’s safe to say that he wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the prospects for a remake of John Landis’ 1981 genre crossbreed classic. He was equally and justifiably indifferent to the shambolic 1997 sequel, An American Werewolf In Paris, which instead featured Tom Everett Scott and Julie Delpy in the leads.
“We always thought, ‘What is a sequel, and how does it qualify as a sequel? Doesn’t at least somebody have to be in it from both films?’ That movie had nothing to do with the other one, and I was quite disappointed by it.”
However, when we caught up with the actor again more recently following the news that the original director’s son, Max Landis, would be helming the proposed remake, he had a surprisingly more optimistic viewpoint toward it. “I’m excited about it. It will only keep our film in the minds of so many fans.”
What’s more, the now 65-year-old actor, who last year guest-starred in the fifth season of American Horror Story, wants to be a part of it, and has his own ideas for how he could become involved. “Yes, I want to be in it,” he reveals enthusiastically. “Now, I could play the worried Dr Hirsch, who was formerly played by the wonderful John Woodvine.”
Crucially, Woodvine (along with the equally esteemed Jenny Agutter, who played love interest Nurse Price) helped ground American Werewolf in reality. Dr Hirsch goes from sceptical GP to open-minded investigator after he ultimately decides to look into David’s claims of a cover-up wolf attack and checks out the infamous pub, The Slaughtered Lamb, where the American tourist and his mate Jack (Griffin Dunne) were warned by locals to “Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors and beware of the Moon” prior to their fateful and frightful attack.
Naughton is understandably proud of the original film, which balanced horror and comedy that baffled critics at the time, but subsequently set a genre-defying trend. It will certainly be a tough act to follow for any modern reinterpretation despite the interesting family connection.
“I don’t think any of us expected to be talking about it 35 years later,” he says. “It certainly set a trend, as all the films that followed would have a sort of comedic aspect where either the characters have a sense of humour or the director himself would put some sort of spin on it. In shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, there was a theme where you always saw comedy and horror.”