We had a chance to chat with Tyler Hoechlin, who could not have been more charming or less like his character in the show. He shared a few details with us about how Derek Hale has changed, how the dynamics with the other characters are shifting in the new season, and how Teen Wolf is transcending its own genre.
We know you’re stuck with spoilers and you’re not allowed to talk about a lot of stuff but we’ll try anyway…
[Laughter] Not a lot, yeah.
So, at the end of Season Two, Derek has been betrayed by Scott, he’s got a half-missing pack and suddenly there are alphas in town. Jeff Davis (writer of the show) mentioned there was a four month break between the seasons. What’s Derek’s mindset moving forward into Season Three?
Obviously Derek is very humbled from a lot of the things that happened in season two, so I think Derek has kind of put aside that cockiness and a little bit of that swagger he had at the beginning of season two, you know ‘I’m the alpha now,’ he was a little out of control.
Right, it seemed like he was kind of riding high on it a little.
Yeah, he felt good, he was a little proud, and now he’s kinda been knocked back down to earth a little bit, and at this point going into season three, Boyd and Erica go missing at the end of season two, and they’re his responsibility, so finding them has been his priority during that break.
One of the big changes for Derek is he finally doesn’t live in a squat anymore and has his own place.
I know, finally!
There was an official video where you gave a tour of the new flat, and we’re wondering how he got it? Is it explained?
I’ve always had fun with this, because we really don’t explain it! I don’t know if we ever will.
Nobody knows where Derek’s money comes from…
The funny thing for me is, we kind of wonder: he lives in a burned-down house but he drives a Camaro, he always seems to have money but for no reason, he doesn’t work! So, the story that I came up with to Jeff one day was, well, it makes total sense if his entire family died in a house fire, with the life insurance and the insurance on the house, he’s probably set for life, he’s stored it away! So now maybe he’s investing in a place and trying to grow up a little. So yeah, for me that’s always been a fun back-story to have.
Which is deeply tragic on so many levels.
[Huge grin] Right? Yeah, I mean, it’s bad that that’s the area I get to have fun with! Maybe one day Jeff will explain it, but for now that’s what I think.
Well, Derek does seem to have a very complex internal life, which we would say is a nod to your performance. It’s great to have your back-story because so much of him is still unexplained.
Thank you! A lot, yeah. Coming into season three, there’s a lot that’s explained about Derek. Still, it’s not so much given away by him directly, because I think one of Derek’s big things is having trust issues. It was a theme for him in Season Two. It was kind of being built up in Season Two with Scott but he feels a little betrayed by him. In the end Scott was really was just using him as a part of his plan so still for him it brings back bad memories of when someone does something unintentionally that sits the wrong way. That’s still a major issue for him, and we do get a lot deeper into the history and background of what makes Derek the way he is.
That’ll be interesting to see.
Yeah, it was really fun.
We’ve also been hearing a lot about a few major flashbacks. What can you tell us about it?
If you guys have heard about that, then, yeah, we do a lot of things. It’s a fun element on the show that we do a lot of stuff through flashbacks, so there’s a major element of that this season.
From a nerd perspective it’s also a really great plot device that werewolves can share memories with their claws, is it going to be important?
It’s fun! That is going to be important this year! I can’t say when or why but it’ll be important. That’s always the worst part of doing press for this because I’m like, I want to answer your questions, but I can’t say anything! [Pounds table for effect.]
We definitely don’t want to get you in trouble. We love the show and want to talk about it, but we know it’s a bit tricky right now…
Well thank you! And I don’t want to spoil it for you guys. I know if anyone spoiled me for Game of Thrones, because I have like three episodes DVR’d right now, I’d freak out.
We know that feeling! So, one of the most endearing aspects of how Teen Wolf is evolving is the relationship between Derek and Scott, which we’ve already talked a bit about. What can you tell us about the dynamics between them in the next season?
The evolution of their relationship has been a fun thing, and it’s always been a very strong element of the show and the characters themselves. Season One is very much, what made sense to me, a Morpheus and Neo, Luke and Obi Wan kind of relationship where he was there to show the ropes to someone who had amazing potential.
Season Two was guys with separate agendas coming together out of necessity, and I think they both can see each other for why they’re powerful, what makes the other great in their own way, the talents that they have, but also were just not on the same page.
Season Three, there’s a lot more of how we are in real life and have been since season one, a lot more like how I am with my own brother right now. I’m in my mid-twenties, he’s in his mid-twenties, so even though he’s younger, it’s really the same. Scott and Derek are kind of starting to take on a little bit of that relationship, it’s a mutual admiration now, they’re able to work together and appreciate the other for what they can provide.
Now, you’re one of the guys who does his own stunts on the show and you seem to really enjoy it.
It seems like a really hard regimen though.
Especially this year. [Laughter]
Are there a lot of crazy action scenes in Season Three?
There’s definitely an increase in the action in season three, there’s actually a lot. Towards the end of season two I was really able to do most of my own stunts, the season finale of season two, I did basically a hundred percent of the stunts.
It really shows.
It’s great for the show, I mean, I know when I watch movies with Tom Cruise, and guys who stay in and do their own stunts, it makes for great shots in the fight sequences because you don’t have to go so wide that you can’t see a face, or always be behind the person’s head. I think it makes it easier for us to get some really great shots. I think our fight scenes have been, in the past, some of the best that I’ve seen on TV. This season has definitely kicked it up a notch, but we did so much this year that I didn’t get to do quite as much, but anything that I was time wise available for, I always tried to jump in and do what I could. We spend a lot of time on it, and it can get a little boring, sitting off to the side, so I like to get in as much as I can.
It looks pretty good from what we’ve seen! They recently showed a clip at Wondercon of a scene between Derek and Kali (a new character played by Felisha Terrell) that was pretty brutal, and our first thoughts were, ‘well, this is a fine introduction to the general tone of Season Three…’
[Laughter] Yeah, we’re not holding anything back this season! And it’s fun, I did gymnastics for a couple years when I was younger, and I was an athlete, I’ve played baseball my whole life, so anytime I get to tap into that athletic side it’s really fun for me. I’m very lucky.
We’ve talked about the relationship between Scott and Derek, but we’d also like to know about the relationship between Derek and Peter. So far Peter’s come back from the dead and used Derek and Lydia quite brutally to do that, so how does their relationship develop moving forward?
Their relationship picks up where it left off in Season Two, which is that Derek needs Peter. Peter has knowledge and wisdom, and as much as Derek wishes he didn’t have to listen to him and use him in certain situations, he does. It’s a necessary evil.
Their relationship definitely does develop and change throughout the season, but I can’t say any more!
What’s left of the pack is Derek, Peter and Isaac, right?
Yeah, coming into the season, it’s the three of us looking for Erica and Boyd and that’s the group. Scott has become part of his own pack with his friends, and so their relationship is not as strained as it was in season two, but there’s definitely still a separation there.
On the subject of Isaac, what is his dynamic with Derek this season? Derek knows he’s alone, and there’s a lot they seem to have in common. Although Isaac has started a friendship with Scott, have Isaac and Derek got a kind of mentor relationship?
I feel like the Isaac character has always had a lot of similarity with Derek, but I do think in Season Two they had a lot of very strong differences of opinion in terms of what needed to be done.
There’s also very much a challenge being posed by Isaac to Derek. I think at times it can be frustrating for him, but Isaac is his responsibility and he’s trying to bring him along. Isaac though, is very similar to Scott, in the same way that he’s resistant to what Derek is trying to do, and to believing that Derek’s plans are the best plans and the best way to go about it.
I think that’s why you see Isaac relating to both characters very strongly, because he’s going through the same thing Derek has gone through with losing his family, but at the same time he doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with the things that Derek does.
There is one burning question we, and many fans of the show, have been wondering about for a long time: Will Derek ever have a nice day? He just seems to have so much misery in his life.
[Laughter] Yeah, Derek doesn’t really take it easy! That would be a fun thing to play with!
One day maybe someone gets his coffee order just right, who knows?
That would be awesome! These are the kind of things which, as a cast, we do on set. We look at a scene and go ‘what if! What if we showed up and Derek didn’t have to jump in the car and get going right away? What if he could just sit and chat?’ but that would be a totally different show! We’d probably lose a lot of viewers and a lot of interest.
We’ll see, maybe as a humour element in Season Three we’ll mix that in.
It could easily be a hallucination.
Exactly, we could throw in one of those. We could throw people off for a second and then no, he’s back to drowning or something.
Does he catch a break though?
Yeah. I feel like this has been talked about enough to tell you, so… [shrugs] There’s a little bit of a love interest this year with Derek.
The thing that I’ve loved about Derek with each season is that in Season One he was a very specific character with a very specific motive, and then in Season Two, that all changed. There was a massive difference in the character, and then in Season Three, we explore a whole new side of Derek, it’s a nice expansion.
As an actor it’s fun, because when you get on a TV show sometimes, you start to feel this monotony of always doing the same thing, and so I think that’s one of the things Jeff and the writers have been really, really great at, giving us new things to play with each season. It keeps us as invested and interested in what’s coming up as hopefully the audience is.
Part of the reason we find it such a compelling show is that we expected a kind of fun, light experience and it ended up being much darker and more complex than we thought. Part of that is the development of the characters. They start off as archetypes and it’s been interesting to see them take on a humanity you don’t often see in many genre shows.
Definitely. I think it’s a tribute to the writers and to everybody involved in that aspect, and also to the actors. Everybody does such a great job in finding things that make it as interesting as possible.
We’re not necessarily a genre show, but it does still have that label around it, and it would be easy to rely on clichés and things that just, you know, describe a character for who they mainly are in the show, just the purpose they serve, and kind of sit back on that. I feel like our show does a great job of incorporating that but never over-using it. The great example of that is Stiles, I mean, he’s obviously the comic relief on the show, but he has these elements like the relationship with his dad and the loss of his mom, and those scenes are the most heartbreaking in the show because you don’t see him do that very often. They’ve done a really good job with that.
Because no matter the supernatural element, this show has a lot of heart.