1 of 5 | New episodes of Sarah Michelle Gellar's "Wolf Pack" air on Thursdays. Photo courtesy of Paramount+
NEW YORK, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Buffy the Vampire, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scooby-Doo icon Sarah Michelle Gellar says she didn't want to revisit the horror genre unless the project was fresh and meaningful.
Fortunately, the new Paramount+ series Wolf Pack, airing Thursdays, fits that description.
"It had to be something that really resonated because I owe it to you guys and to myself," the 45-year-old actress recently told the crowd at New York Comic Con.
"There are so many more stories to tell. Utilizing the supernatural is how we explain the things that we can't really understand and the stories we can't really grasp -- ones that would be too depressing or upsetting in real life," she said. "We use those to scare ourselves into understanding."
Co-starring Rodrigo Santoro, Armani Jackson, Bella Shepard, Chloe Robertson and Tyler Gray, the adaptation of Edo van Belkom's novel is about what happens when a California wildfire drives a mysterious creature out of the forest that then bites several teenagers and turns them into werewolves.
Series creator Jeff Davis said he never seriously thought Gellar would read his script, but his staff sent it to her, anyway.
"The next day, they wanted to set up a Zoom and I was like, 'Oh, my God, now I have to impress Sarah Michelle Gellar,'" Davis recalled with a laugh.
The married mother of two children said she initially had no intention of considering the role of an arson investigator trying to help troubled kids, largely because Buffy had exhausted a teen werewolf storyline involving Seth Green's beloved character, Oz.
"No offense. I'm a big fan," she told Davis, "but I was like: 'Hmmm. Not for me.'"
What ultimately changed her mind was that Davis wanted to incorporate important real-life issues into his storytelling.
"First of all, discussing the fires," she said. "Having lived in LA, I was evacuated because of the last fire for almost a week. We didn't know if our house was going to burn down. [This show demonstrates] understanding all the emotions that come with that."
Gellar liked that Wolf Pack stresses the importance of mental health, as well.
"We live in a society that is so digitally connected, but, at the same time, ultimately, we are becoming more and more disconnected as humans," she said.
"We feel extremely isolated, and we don't have the support of our pack and [this explores] what does that look like for young kids today trying to find their pack? And, for adults, too, who don't feel like they fit in anywhere. It's really scary to feel like you don't fit in."
The icing on the cake for her was how visually stunning the show is.
"It's extremely cinematic. This world is so beautiful when you see it. I still sometimes can't believe we manage to do, in the short time we're doing it," she said.
Davis said a lot of effort went into creating a specific vision for the series that would give it a unique look and feel.
"I told the directors and the directors of photography right off the bat, 'Have fun with this. Make it interesting, make it weird, make it cool. ... Let's give them something to watch. Let's give them color, brightness and incredible angles,'" Davis said. "I love the way this show is shot."
He said he also wanted Wolf Pack to be different from the other, similarly themed show he created, Teen Wolf.
"We didn't just want to do a carbon copy," Davis said. "This is new."
Gellar said working with younger actors who are just starting out energizes her and reminds her how lucky she is to still be working steadily after decades in show business.
"When you've been doing it so long, sometimes it becomes routine. It's a job," she noted.
"You can lose the love and the passion, and I'm fortunate that I still love what I do. I feel extremely grateful to get the opportunities that I get. Getting to relive that through [younger co-stars'] eyes just makes it more exciting and enjoyable."
Davis said Gellar is also a really good producer on the show.
"She'll be on set and look over and say, 'You know, we can save two hours just by doing this, this and this,'" Davis said. "And she's right! This is a woman with 40 years of experience in the industry."
"Did you have to put a number on that?" Gellar teased. "Really?"