Sarah Michelle Gellar has traded vampires for werewolves. The star of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is returning to television as both producer and actor in the new Paramount+ series “Wolf Pack.” The howling starts Jan. 26 on the streaming service.

The series – based on the book series by Edo Van Belkom – follows a teenage boy and girl whose lives are changed when a California wildfire awakens a terrifying supernatural creature and drives it to attack a highway traffic jam beneath the burning hills. The boy and girl are inexplicably drawn to each other and to two other teenagers who were adopted 16 years earlier by a park ranger after another mysterious wildfire. As the full moon rises, all four teens come together to unravel the secret that connects them – the bite and blood of a werewolf.

Since she put down her wooden stakes two decades ago, Gellar estimates that she has been pitched the idea of starring in a supernatural series at least 2,000 times. When the script for “Wolf Pack” first arrived, Gellar was convinced this would have to be the 2,001th time she said no.

“I read the script, and it was the first time where my interest was so piqued and I wasn’t sure where it was going. One of the beauties of ‘Buffy’ was the sort of metaphorical aspect of it,” Gellar says. “We were using monsters. These real monsters with the metaphors for the horror of high school. For me that’s what made the show so important, and why it still stands the test of time.”

After Gellar read the script and talked with executive producer/writer Jeff Davis she discovered they were in agreement in terms of elements for the show. One big issue that would be addressed in “Wolf Pack” is the anxiety and depression among children, specifically having a lot to do with their use of devices that creates a real disconnect with the world.

Gellar saw how “Wolf Pack” would be an allegory to speak about the horrors that young people are facing today. She was also excited that the series would also touch on environmental issues.

Davis is equally excited to have Gellar connected to the show playing Kristin Ramsey, the chief arson investigator for the LAFD who works in liaison with the LAPD. Casting Gellar was a possibility that he really didn’t think had a chance of ever happening.

“When the studio came to me and said, ‘What about Sarah Michelle Gellar?’ I said, ‘We will never get Sarah Michelle Gellar, she won’t do it.’ Suddenly the next day I was getting a call from her agent, saying Sarah wanted to meet over zoom,” Davis says. “And I was like, oh [expletive deleted], really?

“So it was quite a nice surprise to find out just how real and down to earth that she is. But I have to tell you, it gives me chills because we’ve got Sarah Michelle Gellar in a horror show again, which hasn’t happened for a while.”

Since “Buffy” ended, Gellar has worked on a variety of TV and film projects. There was the short lived TV thriller “Ringer” and voice work for “Star Wars: Rebels.” She also starred in the feature films “Cruel Intentions” and “The Grudge.”

It was the promise from Davis that the series would allow Gellar to tell the kind of stories she has not been able to do in past TV and film projects that finally convinced Gellar to be part of the series.

“What Jeff writes is amazing and I was able to say, Jeff, these are the things that I haven’t got the chance to do, and these are the things that I want to do better,” Gellar says. “It is an old saying, but it is true, with age and experience you look at things differently.

“I definitely look at characters differently now. I used to be the youngest one and now I am one of the oldest in the cast.”

Davis did have to agree to two deal-breaking demands by Gellar. She told him that she would do her own stunts and that she would not wear any prosthetics. When Davis joked about wanting her to be in a full werewolf outfit Gellar said the only way that would happen is if it was for the Halloween episode and she could wear a zip-up fur costume like they used in horror movies from the 40’s.

The cast of “Wolf Pack” also includes Armani Jackson, Bella Shepard, Chloe Rose Robertson, Tyler Lawrence Gray and Rodrigo Santoro. Additional cast includes Bailey Stender, Chase Liefeld, Hollie Bahar, Lanny Joon, Rio Mangini, Stella Smith, Zack Nelson, James Martinez, Amy Pietz, Bria Brimmer, John L. Adams and Sean Philip Glasgow.