Apparently this dog named Moose, who played the wolf that bites Lawrence Talbot, totally became buddies with Lon Chaney Jr. on the set of The Wolf Man and followed him around wherever he went. I love Lon Chaney Jr. Doesn’t surprise me in the least that beautiful beasts were thusly drawn to him.
I feel an affinity for Chaney because his performances as the wolf man are so human and moving. He’s a big, strong man, yet his terror is evident in every frame. Sometimes he can beat it down, but when things are going wrong the fear busts out all over the place. In myths lie truths. Talbot fears the demon within him and It controls his life. He is always trying to run away, or lock it up, or destroy it, but it never works. In every movie, he ends up a lifeless heap, crushed in his efforts at keeping the beast at bay.
We all have demons. If we can’t make friends with them, they destroy us. I love this picture because it presents the wolf man at peace with his bestial self - something you never got to see in the movies. I once got a chance to talk with one of my favorite directors, Jack Hill, and I asked him about working with Chaney on Spider Baby, scooping for some dirt alluding to the actor’s battle with the sauce.
Hill told me Chaney was the consummate professional. He took his role very seriously and was never, ever drunk on the set. With lunch, the actor would have one single beer in a small glass… and that was it. I like to think that Lon Chaney Jr. was able to make peace with his personal horrors in a way that his onscreen persona Lawrence Talbot was never able to. An actor draws from life and Chaney’s life battles made for some incredibly moving performances which shed much needed light upon the subject of human suffering and madness.