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George MacKay Explains How Wolf Was Made During A Pandemic - Exclusive

Like so much of the world, the film industry — both in Hollywood and internationally – came to a complete standstill in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic first raged around the world. As safety protocols, quarantine procedures, treatments and, ultimately, vaccines were developed and put in place, production of movies and TV shows began ramping up again in late 2020. It moved slowly at first before gaining more momentum in 2021 as movie studios, TV networks and streaming outlets began clearing backlogged projects and delivering new content.

Among many such projects was the film "Wolf." British actor George MacKay stars as a young man named Jacob who believes he is a wolf and is placed in a facility, the True You clinic, that treats people who think they're animals trapped in human bodies. Directed and written by Nathalie Biancheri, "Wolf" was the first independent film production in Ireland to begin shooting during the pandemic, although rehearsals had started before the virus took hold.

"We'd done our first week of rehearsals at that point when things shut down," MacKay tells Looper. "So it actually gave us kind of — we planted a bunch of seeds in terms of the character and creatively that we could then go away and work on. Actually the character and I think the whole film really benefited from having that extra prep time."

Filming Wolf during the pandemic lent itself to the movie's themes

Once production resumed on "Wolf" in the fall of 2020, the cast and crew spent nine weeks living and working in an empty hotel in Ireland that doubles as the hospital where the story takes place. George MacKay tells Looper that the isolation imposed on the production mirrored the narrative and themes of the movie itself, in which Jacob and his fellow patients (which include Lily-Rose Depp) are sealed off within the hospital as they undergo treatment at the hands of the facility's cruel director (Paddy Considine).

"We didn't go to a shop, didn't go to a pub, didn't go to get a coffee or anything for that nine weeks," MacKay recalls. "It sort of lent itself to the kind of cocooned nature of the characters."

MacKay adds that filming under such conditions — even though they were brought on by the horrific circumstances in the world outside — allowed him to focus more intensely than ever on the work in front of him. That certainly might explain the feral nature of MacKay's unique performance and the surreal tone of the movie.

"I like to get quite, I don't know, is monastic the word? When if you sort of strip everything back when you're working," MacKay reveals. "You just have that sole focus ... to be honest, it makes the job easier. You don't have to be sort of filtering all the day-to-day. And that was sort of intensified all the more by the fact we were living as we were. I think that lends itself to the production because it's such a particular production as well."

"Wolf" is now playing in theaters.