Directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart had the opportunity of a lifetime to embrace their Irish heritage while working on the Apple TV Plus original film “Wolfwalkers.”
In the Variety Streaming Room hosted by editor Jenelle Riley, Moore and Stewart reminisced on old Irish fables, the process of animating and the seven full years they spent working on the film.
“Wolfwalkers” takes place in the Irish city Kilkenny and follows a young hunter, Robyn, and her father who are sent out to track and kill the last pack of wolves. When Robyn is led to the wolves’ den in the forest, she learns that their spiritual lives are connected to humans and that they are not to be feared. Riley asked the directors if this story was loosely based on an actual legend, which Stewart said was loosely based on the Wolf People of Ossory. Kilkenny is based in the region of Ossory, and in this legend, a family is cursed to turn into wolves while they slept because they wouldn’t convert to Christianity.
“So that’s not a very widely known myth or legend around Ireland, but it would have been recorded in local history here,” Stewart said. “So Tomm had heard of it when he was a teenager and it stuck in his mind, so when we came up with the idea seven years ago of Hunter’s daughter becoming the thing that he hunts, Tom goes, ‘Oh yeah, that reminds me of this legend that I heard, the Wolf People of Ossory.’ So we kind of combined it.”
Moore said that the Kilkenny people in Ireland have an abundance of fables and history to share, but they were a very private town while they were the capital of Ireland during Oliver Cromwell’s colonization of the country amid the English Civil Wars.
“At the time, we were the target,” Moore said. “It was the capital of the Catholic Confederacy, so when Oliver Cromwell came to ‘tame’ the country, not only did he want to wipe out the wolves, but he kind of wanted to wipe out the power structure in Ireland.”
Since a large portion of the “Wolfwalkers” crew was international, Moore said it was great to show them the history of the town he grew up in.
“So many of the beautiful old medieval buildings, even the castle itself, are still in great nick here in Kilkenny,” Moore said. “So when they arrive in the town, they kind of feel they’re walking into the set of the movie that they’re going to work on, which is lovely.”
Watch the full conversation above.