Horror fans are over the moon about the return of Teen Wolf, as the cult hit series that took MTV by storm is getting a feature film on Paramount Plus. The aptly titled Teen Wolf: The Movie reunites most of the original cast, including Melissa Ponzio’s underrated Melissa McCall. In looking ahead to the movie’s 2023 premiere, I spoke to Melissa about what it was like to have one more opportunity to revisit her character.
Plus, we discussed her other well-known role as Donna Robbins-Boden on Chicago Fire and the contrast that comes with taking on those two characters around the same time. Whether helping to save the world or being around firefighters saving the day, Melissa is portraying strong women who hold their own in heightened situations and making her own mark on the small screen.
Brittany Frederick: A Teen Wolf movie has been regularly discussed since the series finale in 2017. So did you ever really say goodbye to the character of Melissa McCall?
Melissa Ponzio: No, she’s totally been floating in my heart and my mind—and I appreciate when I hear that other people are on the same wavelength. When we were shooting the series and it was the final day, and it was the final scene, it was so bittersweet. So much family had been made in the years that we were shooting it that we just never wanted to let go. And I’m so glad that we didn’t. After all these years, there’s been a constant thread with people that have kept us together and in touch. We’re so lucky as a crew and a cast to be doing this again. It’s just a dream come true, to be quite honest.
BF: Was there something about the movie that particularly drew you back, or was it simply the chance to play this role again with this cast and crew?
MP: The hook was [series creator] Jeff [Davis] calling and saying, “Hey, would you be in if we’re shooting a movie.” He didn’t even need to finish a sentence before I said “Yes.” It was that easy. Again, I harken back to the fact that we really enjoy each other as a cast and a crew. We really enjoy working together. Everyone has put this hard work in to build this beautiful mythology, and this beautiful story, and all these twists and turns. We all wanted to dive in again, and it’s been a really great experience.
BF: Melissa McCall is one of the Teen Wolf characters who doesn’t have superpowers, but saving a lot of other characters was her superpower. Do you view her as a hero in her own way?
MP: I feel like sometimes the best drama is ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And I think that that’s what we have with the humans on the show. A lot of people ask, “If you had the chance, what creature would you want to be?” or “Who else would you want to embody on the show?” For me, that human aspect is such an important part of bringing the story along that I wouldn’t want it any other way. To be somebody on a show like this that is truly human in every way—and that’s still capable of the same amount of magic, the same amount of heroism, the same amount of depth is really a gift. And it’s a gift in the writing that Jeff gives every character.
BF: The part of Melissa that does get talked about a lot is her personal life. She developed a relationship with JR Bourne’s Chris Argent before the end of Teen Wolf. Does the movie have time to revisit that, or is it more focused on the adventure ahead?
MP: Melissa McCall had more boyfriends on the show than any of the other characters, which is always something fun to think about. (laughs) Some of it does play out for the Teen Wolf movie and then some of it is a little bit of a mystery. There’s so much that happens in this movie; it’s so fast-paced. In theory, it takes [place in] just a couple of days, but there’s just so much going on that it’s a lot to keep up with!
BF: Your Chicago Fire character Donna has a similar role supporting that show’s heroes, but the two series couldn’t be more different in terms of genre and tone. What was it like for you to be working on both shows at the same time?
MP: First off, what an amazing honor and opportunity to be on both shows. Not everybody gets the opportunity to work at a high level and then work at a high level on two different shows. I’m very grateful and thankful for that. They both deal with action, they both deal with such special effects and they both deal with such high level of safety that it’s really interesting. [On] Chicago Fire, you have a lot of fire and it becomes almost another character on the show. Everyone around you respects it. You have all these safety meetings, and you have a clear understanding of what you’re doing and why.
That was the first time ever that I had ever really been in the thick of it. We’re in the classroom and the classroom is actually on fire [in Season 6’s “It Wasn’t Enough”]. To see all the different ways that they make the fire literally crawl up the walls—and then when you turn around and you’re working on Teen Wolf, there’s so many special effects with blood, and with rooms, and with people crawling around in the dark. It’s really amazing to be part of two special effects, action-driven shows in their own genre, but yet somehow a little bit tied together.
BF: One of the neat random facts about your Teen Wolf character is that the two of you share a first name. Has that been confusing or is it great?
MP: it really was a gift because everybody knew my name from the start. Sometimes you’re accidentally and also belovedly called your character’s name, and so nobody could ever get it wrong. And it’s something really cool when you’re sitting down in your cast chair and it says “Melissa” on it, because we all put a little bit of ourselves into our characters. It’s just kind of a fun little touchstone. And who else gets to have a character by their own namesake? Not many.
BF: Is there anything you wish viewers knew about what it’s like to be a part of two hugely popular TV series?
MP: A lot of people say that they’re a family on set, and we truly are. We have a lot of respect for each other, and we have a lot of respect for each individual’s work and we also have respect for people that move on from the show and do other things. We’re constantly trying to uplift people that are currently on the show and not on the show, and that comes from a real high level of respect and decency.
I’m really proud to say that Teen Wolf has that. I’m really proud to say that Chicago Fire has that. And even Walking Dead back in the day. There’s a camaraderie and a sense of family on a lot of shows that people don’t believe that’s really there. People think that actors give it lip service, but I’m here to tell you that it’s the real deal on these shows.
Teen Wolf: The Movie debuts Jan. 26, 2023 on Paramount+.
Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.