When casting her sophomore feature, director Nathalie Biancheri thought she would need to find the central character in “Wolf” — that is, a man who believes he is a wolf — before she found his love interest, named Wildcat.
But then, she met Lily-Rose Depp.
Depp’s agent approached Biancheri, saying he had the perfect person for the role of Wildcat, who is a young woman who believes she is a cat.
“I started looking at pictures of Lily, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, she looks like a cat!” Biancheri says with a laugh. “She’s very seductively feline. So, that was the first intrigue — it was purely aesthetic.”
Afterword, Depp nailed her next audition, which was improv-ing as the animal.
“At Nat’s request, I did a little cat improv, and you know, I guess it wasn’t too bad!” the actor says, speaking alongside the director at Variety‘s TIFF Studio presented by Canada Goose.
Depp was cast, and then Biancheri found her main character, Jacob, in George MacKay (“1917”).
In “Wolf,” Jacob (MacKay) believes he is a wolf trapped in a man’s body. He is sent to a clinic, where he is forced to undergo increasingly extreme forms of curative therapies. It’s at the clinic that he meets his love interest, Wildcat (Depp).
“Wolf” from Focus Features is loosely based off the real-life condition of species dysphoria, in which a person believes they are an animal trapped in their human body, but the film centers on ideas of identity.
“Even before I read about it, when I just heard about the premise, I was like this sounds crazy up my alley and was really excited to read it,” Depp tells Variety. The model, actor and social media influencer — and daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis — was drawn to the script because she could relate to the idea of being allowed to be your truest form of self.
“Wolf” premiered at TIFF on Sept. 17, and will be released theatrically on Dec. 3.