Lawrence Stewart "Larry" Talbot, also known as The Wolf Man, is a title character of the 1941 Universal film The Wolf Man and its sequels. He was portrayed by Lon Chaney Jr. In the 2010 remake of the film, he is portrayed by Academy Award-winner Benicio del Toro. The Wolf Man was part of the Universal Monsters ensemble.
|The Wolf Man character|
|Portrayed by||Lon Chaney Jr. (1941–48)|
Benicio del Toro (2010)
Josh Hartnett (2014–16)
|Full name||Lawrence Stewart Talbot|
|Alias||The Wolf Man|
The Wolf Man (1941)
Larry Talbot returns to his ancestral home in Llanwelly, Wales, to reconcile with his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains). He had left for America eighteen years earlier, when his elder brother (also named John) was made heir to the estate, but he has returned following his brother's death in a hunting accident. While there, Larry becomes romantically interested in a local girl named Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers), who runs an antique shop. As a pretext, he buys something from her, a silver-headed walking stick decorated with a wolf. Gwen tells him that it represents a werewolf (which she defines as a man who changes into a wolf "at certain times of the year").
That night, Larry attempts to rescue Gwen's friend Jenny from what he believes to be a sudden attack by a wolf. He kills the beast with his new walking stick, but is bitten in the process. He soon discovers that it was not just a wolf; it was a werewolf, and now Talbot has become one. A gypsy fortuneteller named Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya) reveals to Larry that the animal which bit him was actually her son Bela (Bela Lugosi) in the form of a wolf. Bela had been a werewolf for years and now the curse of lycanthropy has been passed to Larry.
Sure enough, Talbot transforms into a wolf and prowls the countryside, committing several murders in his wolf form and terrorising the village. After struggling unsuccessfully to overcome the curse, he is finally bludgeoned to death by his father, who does not recognise him, with his own walking stick. As he dies, he returns to human form.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
Larry Talbot, the "Wolf Man", is awakened from death by grave robbers when his tomb is opened under a full moon. Seeking a cure for the curse that causes him to transform into a werewolf with every full moon, he searches for Maleva, the gypsy woman who told him of his curse and tried to help him earlier. Maleva tells him that she knows of someone who can help cure him. They set out on a journey to the Frankenstein family's castle, where he hopes to find there the notes of Dr. Henry Frankenstein so he might learn how to permanently end his own life through scientific means, knowing now that being struck by silver was not the final cure the legend claims. By chance, during his transformations into a werewolf, he falls into the castle's frozen catacombs and revives Frankenstein's monster. Finding that the Monster is unable to locate the notes of the long-dead doctor, Talbot seeks out Baroness Elsa Frankenstein, hoping she knows their hiding place. A performance of the life-affirming folk song "Faro-la Faro-Li" enrages Talbot into a fit before the Frankenstein Monster crashes the village festival. With the Monster revealed, Elsa gives the notes to Talbot and Dr. Mannering, who has tracked Talbot across Europe, so that they may be used in an effort to drain all life from both Talbot and the Monster. Ultimately, however, Dr. Mannering's desire to see the Monster at full strength overwhelms his logic, and to Elsa's horror he decides to fully revive it. As an unfortunate coincidence, the experiment takes place on the night of a full moon, and Talbot is transformed just as the Monster regains his strength. After the Monster carries off Elsa, the Wolf Man attacks him, and the two title characters seemingly perish in a flood that results after the local tavern owner blows up the town dam to drown the castle's inhabitants.
House of Frankenstein (1944)
The film focuses on the exploits of the vengeful Dr. Gustav Niemann (Boris Karloff), who escapes from prison. He is helped by the hunchback Daniel (J. Carroll Naish), for whom he promises to create a new, beautiful body. The two murder a traveling showman and take over his horror exhibit. To exact revenge on Hussmann, who had once caused his imprisonment, Niemann revives Count Dracula. Dracula seduces Hussmann's granddaughter-in-law and kills Hussmann himself, but in a subsequent chase, Niemann disposes of Dracula's coffin, causing the vampire to perish in sunlight. Niemann and Daniel move on to the flooded ruins of Castle Frankenstein, where they find the bodies of the Frankenstein Monster and The Wolf Man (Lawrence Talbot), preserved in the frozen waters. Nieman thaws out the two and promises Talbot to find a cure from the curse. However, in fact he is more interested in reviving the Frankenstein monster and exacting revenge on two former associates than in his promises to Daniel or Talbot. Talbot transforms into a werewolf and kills a man, arousing the villagers.
Talbot is also envied by the hunchback Daniel as both love Ilonka, a gypsy girl. She has fallen in love with Talbot but is the object of Daniel's affection. Daniel reveals Talbot's curse to Ilonka but she is not deterred and promises to help him in fighting the curse.
Things enter a critical stage at night, as Niemann revives the Frankenstein monster and Talbot again turns into a werewolf. Talbot is shot by Ilonka with a silver bullet, thereby releasing him from the curse.
House of Dracula (1945)
Even though both Dracula and Larry Talbot perished in the previous film, in this entry they are depicted as still alive and seeking a cure for their respective afflictions from a brilliant scientist, Dr. Edelmann. Frankenstein's Monster plays a minor role in this film, only being found when Talbot tries to drown himself. In the end, Talbot is finally cured of his affliction and falls in love with Edelmann's attractive assistant, Miliza Morrelle (Martha O'Driscoll). He then kills Edelman, who has transformed into a Mr. Hyde-like creature.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
This film is the final appearance of the character in the original Universal Monsters cycle, although its inclusion in the "canon" is controversial because it is a comedy.
Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) work as railway baggage-clerks who deliver two crates to McDougal's House of Horrors museum. The crates contain "the remains of the original Count Dracula" (Bela Lugosi) and "the body of the Frankenstein Monster" (Glenn Strange). The monsters revive and go to the castle of Dr. Sandra Mornay, who has studied Dr. Frankenstein's notebooks, and is part of Dracula's scheme to replace the Monster's brain with Wilbur's. Joan Raymond (Jane Randolph) is secretly working for the insurance company that is processing McDougal's claim regarding the missing contents of the crates, and hopes Wilbur will lead her to the missing 'exhibits'.
Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) has tracked Dracula and the Monster to the area and asks Chick and Wilbur to help him destroy them. That night the moon is full, and Talbot insists that he be locked in his room. The following night, at Sandra's castle, Wilbur encounters Dracula and the Monster, but escapes. Later, Sandra admits to Dracula that she has put the experiment on hold. Dracula bites her in the throat. Talbot and McDougal arrive unexpectedly, but Dracula deflects Talbot's accusations, making Talbot appear disturbed. While Dracula is with Joan, Talbot transforms into the Wolfman and injures McDougal. Under the spell of Dracula, Sandra is about to carry out the brain transplant when Talbot and Chick storm in. Just as Talbot is about to untie Wilbur, he once again transforms into the Wolf Man. Dracula flees, with the Wolf Man giving chase just as the Monster breaks his restraints and throws Sandra out the window. Dracula transforms into a bat, but the Wolf Man grabs him and both fall over a balcony into the rocky seas below. The boys head to a rowboat with the Monster in pursuit. Wilbur unties the boat, while Joan sets the pier on fire. The Monster turns around and marches into the flames, succumbing as the pier collapses into the water.
Van Helsing (2004)
In the 2004 film Van Helsing starring Hugh Jackman, Lawrence Talbot is reimagined as a new character named Velkan Valerious (portrayed by Will Kemp). Velkan gets bitten by a werewolf and is then dubbed the Wolfman. Unlike the previous films, a werewolf will rip out of its human skin than transform like previous films.
The Wolfman (2010)
In the 2010 remake of the film, Lawrence Talbot is played by Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro, who was "cast for his resemblance to Lon Chaney, Jr., with his clouded, thick features and his air of suffering." Lawrence is depicted as an "Anglo-Indian, which explains his complexion, and the film notes that he was educated in America, to explain his accent." His ancestral home is also shown to be in Blackmoor, England.
Having been sent to America as a child by his father Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins) to live with his aunt following a year in an asylum after his mother's apparent suicide, Talbot goes on to become an actor. His brother Ben's fiancé Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) asks him to return to the family home to help find his missing brother. To his horror, he learns that Ben's brutally mutilated body was discovered shortly before his arrival. Attempting to investigate his brother's death, Lawrence is attacked and bitten by a werewolf after going to meet a Gypsy named Maleva. After having his wounds stitched up and being taken back to Talbot Hall, Lawrence goes through an unnaturally fast recovery leading up to the night of the full moon. The night of the full moon arrives and Lawrence finds his father creeping around Talbot Hall and follows him through the estate to his mother's burial crypt. Following a brief exchange, the full moon shines and Lawrence painfully transforms into a werewolf and begins his reign of terror among Blackmoor, brutally killing several villagers. The next morning Lawrence is woken by his father inside an old hollowed tree in front of the Talbots' estate, shortly after which Lawrence is arrested by Francis Aberline (Hugo Weaving) of Scotland Yard, with the help of several villagers; he is subsequently taken back to the asylum where he was sent as a child. During his time at the asylum, it is revealed that his father, Sir John Talbot, was the werewolf who bit him, with his mother's "suicide" actually being the result of Sir John attacking her in werewolf form; Lawrence's traumatised mind simply repressed the memory during his time at the asylum.
On the next night of the full moon, Lawrence is strapped to a chair and is being psychologically treated in front of an on-looking crowd at the asylum, the doctor convinced that others seeing Lawrence remain human when exposed to the full moon will help him realize that his belief that he is a werewolf is wrong. In the middle of the demonstration, Lawrence warns them that they are all in great danger, but they laugh off his warning and continue. Seconds later, the full moon shines through the asylum window and Lawrence transforms into a werewolf, who brutally murders the doctor and several spectators before escaping. Lawrence tears his way through London with Aberline in pursuit. The following day, Gwen discovers him taking refuge in the antique shop she owns. Several days pass as Gwen tries desperately to find a cure and Lawrence travels back to Blackmoor to settle things once and for all. Gwen, who meets up with the Gypsy Maleva, is told that the only way to save Lawrence is to kill him with a silver bullet. Aberline, along with a group of heavily armed officers and villagers, ready themselves for their next encounter with the beast of Blackmoor [Lawrence]; at the same time, Lawrence sneaks his way back into Talbot Hall where the final werewolf battle between him and his father takes place. After being severely wounded by his father, Lawrence viciously kills him by knocking him into the fireplace, then decapitating him. Gwen and Aberline walk in to find Lawrence in werewolf form. In a failed attempt to kill Lawrence, Aberline is attacked and bitten by Lawrence just before he charges through Blackmoor's forests after Gwen. Weakened badly by his wounds, Aberline and his group hunt through the forest in search of Lawrence. Stopped in her tracks by a waterfall, Gwen finds herself cornered by the beast, but instead of killing him with the silver bullet, tries to help him recognize her. Starting to remember who Gwen is, Lawrence turns back to see that Aberline and his men getting closer and lets out several large howls. Realizing what she must do, Gwen grabs the pistol off the ground and pulls the trigger just as Lawrence launches to attack her. In his last few seconds, Lawrence transforms back into human form while he lays in Gwen's arms and thanks her for setting him free, after which he dies. Shortly after, a badly-wounded Aberline and his men arrive to find Gwen holding Lawrence's body. As Gwen sees that Aberline has been bitten, the camera cuts back to the burning Talbot Hall and the Wolfman's howl is heard one last time.
- Talbot's werewolf grandson, Luke, is one of the protagonists of the 1994 animated series Monster Force. Talbot himself appears in flashbacks in the episode "Stalking the Beast." In the show's canon, Bela attacked and infected Talbot while trying to steal Talbot's wolf-headed cane, which could allegedly control werewolves.
- Talbot appears in the 2000 direct-to-video film Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman voiced by Maurice LaMarche while the werewolf sounds were provided by Frank Welker. as the new neighbor and later-principal of the Chipmunks. He unintentionally infects Theodore with lycanthropy, but the two are cured after they bite each other while in their wolf forms. By the end of the film, Talbot becomes the new principal after Principal Milliken retires. He silently thanks Theodore for breaking his curse.
- The TV series Mary Shelley's Frankenhole incorporates a parody character named Stewart Lawrence, a suicidal man who gave himself the curse of the werewolf by accidentally biting himself. He can only be killed at the hands of someone who loves him. He is voiced by Jay Johnston.
- In the TV series Penny Dreadful, Ethan Chandler's real name is revealed to be Ethan Lawrence Talbot, and he suffers from the curse of lycanthropy. This version of the character is played by Josh Hartnett.
- In the animated superhero comedy "Freakazoid", an episode titled "House of Freakazoid" sees Freakazoid face off against a parody of Lawrence named "Lonnie Talbot", who has sought out the hero in the hopes he may help find a way to control the werewolf transformations. The episode includes reference to the then-revolutionary werewolf transformation sequences from the Universal series, as well as makes note of Chaney's overacting, with Lonnie often grabbing other characters by their shirt collars and exclaiming, "You don't understand!" in a panicked tone.
- Talbot appears in Allan Rune Pettersson's novel Frankenstein's Aunt.
- Talbot is the protagonist in Harlan Ellison's novelette Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans. The story won the 1975 Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the 1975 Locus Award for Best Novelette.
- A wolfman, named Larry Talbot, appeared in Roger Zelazny's supernatural fantasy novel A Night in the Lonesome October.
- Talbot is also a recurring character in various short stories authored by Neil Gaiman. The stories chronicle the seemingly immortal Talbot's life as both a werewolf and as an "adjustor", an occupation of loose definition and most commonly associated with that of a private eye.
- In Jeff Rovin's 1998 novel Return of the Wolf Man it is revealed Talbot and Dracula had survived the fall they took at the end of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Talbot kills Charles Stevens and, upon reverting to human form, has Joan Raymond kill him and perform a specific burial so Talbot could never be revived. Talbot is inadvertently revived and befriends Raymond's niece Caroline Cooke, and Talbot turns his attention from being killed once and for all to stopping the also returning Dracula and Frankenstein. In the end, Talbot, in his werewolf form, kills Dracula only to be beaten to death by Caroline with a silver candelabrum.
- In Frank Dello Stritto's 2017 novel A Werewolf Remembers – The Testament of Lawrence Stewart Talbot, Talbot's diaries are discovered in a storage room in La Mirada, Florida (where Talbot was last seen in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein). In the diaries, Talbot tells of his youth, his years of exile in America, the adventures recounted in his Universal films, and the return of his curse after his cure by Dr. Edelmann (in House of Dracula).
- von Busack, Richard (February 11, 2010). "The Wolfman". Movie Times. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
- 1975 Hugo Awards Archived 2012-02-11 at the Wayback Machine at TheHugoAwards.org; retrieved September 2, 2013
- The Locus Index to SF Awards: Locus Awards Winners by Category Archived 2014-11-23 at the Wayback Machine; at Locus; published 2011; retrieved September 2, 2013