is easily one of the most popular, if not exactly the greatest horror writer that has ever lived and his supernatural epic The Stand
is widely regarded as his best and most loved work. A magnum opus measuring over 1100 pages, King's novel was originally released in 1978 and then re-released in 1990 with additional pages and whole sections rewritten, capturing the imagination of a new generation. The Stand is a sprawling tale covering the fall of civilisation after a bio warfare accident, which wipes out approximately 99% of the worlds population. The novel has been waiting to be made into a major big budget film (or films) for some years now and at one point Kings hope was that zombie director George A Romero
would helm the project with King himself adapting it. However writing a workable screenplay was difficult, due to the length of the novel and their collaboration never made it before camera's. King talked about adapting it for television but was informed that the networks did not "want to see the end of the world, particularly in prime time." Eventually ABC gave King the chance to make The Stand into a 6-hour miniseries for the small screen, for which King provided a new more subdued screenplay. The miniseries was broadcast in 1994, directed by Mick Garris
and starring such actors as Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe
, and Ed Harris
. It won a couple of Emmys and was nominated for a total of six. Earlier this year Warner Bros, obviously looking for a replacement for the Harry Potter Franchise, announced that they would be developing The Stand, possibly as a trilogy, for the big screen. Yesterday they announced
that director David Yates
and screenwriter Steven Kloves
will re-team on King's epic following their successful work on the HP franchise. As we like to do around these parts as part of our Fantasy Casting series, below is a list of the characters I deem most important in the book and the actors who I think would be most suited to playing them in the films. I have split these characters into two camps; The Good (Boulder City) and the Bad (Las Vegas).
The Good (Boulder City)Mother Abagail - Ruby Dee
Abagail Freemantle, also known as "Mother Abagail", leads the "good" survivors of the plague, and is basically a prophet of God. She is 108 years old and lives in a farmhouse in Nebraska. She is one of the 0.6% of the population that is immune to the virus, and initially appears to some of the plague survivors in dreams. Drawing them to her she takes her followers to Boulder City, Colorado where they establish the "Boulder Free Zone" government. She is a black lady who has seen America through as it has grown out of slavery, through the depression, the civil rights movement and the 70s and therefore she needs to be played by a woman who can show she has seen America through the good and bad. Initially I thought Oprah but of course she is too young for this role and not half as talented as this lady. In the 1994 miniseries she was played by Oscar nominee Ruby Dee
and I really cant think of anyone better suited to the role this time around. She has a long filmography in addition to a strong TV and stage career covering many varying roles that she brings depth to of course she is familiar with the character.
Would she want to go there again and repeat herself? Let's hope so. Stuart Redman - Brad Pitt
A quiet man from Texas, he is the first discovered to be immune to the plague, and is taken by authorities first to the Atlanta CDC. He escapes from the government employee sent to execute him and eventually rises to authority in Boulder City. Stu is told by Mother Abigail that he is to travel west to stand against Randall Flagg. Stu is one of the heroes of the book and was played by Gary Sinise in the miniseries, which was pretty spot on casting in my opinion however he is a little too old for this role now and has his hands full with CSI: New York. Plus Warner Bros will see this as their opportunity to hire a real star as their leading man. Our suggestion is Brad Pitt
who has the depth and the experience to play the part and would open up a whole new audience to King's work. The only thing that may pose a problem is the similarity between The Stand and his currently filming other apocalyptic blockbuster World War Z. I know that one is a film about zombies and the other about the aftermath of an almost apocalyptic plague but that may be enough to put him off playing the part so quickly after World War Z, especially as lately he is an actor who has enjoyed being versatile with his choices. Frances Goldsmith - Saorise Ronan
A college student from Maine, Fran is pregnant at the start of the book. The plague all but wipes out her community and she has to go through the harrowing task of burying her father in her garden before leaving with Harold Lauder, who clearly loves her however this is unrequited. he later meets Stu Redman. They then make their way west to Mother Abagail, during which Fran falls deeply in love with Stu. Fran serves on the original Free Zone Committee in Boulder and acts as its moral compass. For me there is only one real choice for this role which was played so well by Molly Ringwald in the miniseries and that choice is Saoirse Ronan
. She captured the essence of the character in her previous work and has shown that she can handle a variety of roles which will be important for a character like Fran who goes through a wide range of emotions throughout the book. The character of Fran starts the book on the brink of womanhood and ends a mother who has seen terrible things and I think Saoirse Ronan could bring that to life. Harold Lauder -
Ezra Miller Harold is 16 years old and lived in Maine, at the beginning of the novel. He is the younger brother of Fran Goldsmiths best friend and is a social outcast. More than a little obnoxious, Harold secretly loves Fran and sees himself as her protector of sorts. However Fran does not feel the same towards Harold. Harold is a character who is really unlikable as well as being quite young and in that respect hes quite a difficult character to cast. However after some consideration I came to the conclusion that Ezra Miller
fits the bill perfectly. He is the right age and his performance in We Need To Talk About Kevin is striking. I think that with Yates direction he could capture the underlying bitterness of this character. Larry Underwood - Mark Ruffalo
Larry is a singer who, at the beginning of the novel, is starting to reach real success with his debut single, "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?". He starts the book by escaping to NY to avoid an escalating drug and debt problem. As the plague and chaos destroy New York, Larry comes to his mothers aid, but he is unable to prevent her death.Not long after, Larry finds himself one of the few people left in New York City. For Larry I felt the film needed someone who could capture a more rugged look and someone who has struggled to get to the success he craved so much only to have the plague snatch it from him. For the part of Larry I think that Mark Ruffalo
perfectly captures that feeling of disappointment and helplessness that Larry has to deal with. However should he be tied up as Bruce Banner for post-Avengers fare, my second choice would be Joaquin Phoenix
. Nick Andros - Matt Damon
A 22-year-old deaf-mute drifter originally from Nebraska, Nick is beaten and robbed in Arkansas, by some thugs shortly after the start of the plague. He is a strong character who leads a band of survivors to Nebraska and Mother Abagail. She guides them to Boulder where Nick serves on the Free Zone Committee. Nick has a good moral compass and often puts others before himself and he is also integral to the story. I could see the character being played by Matt Damon
, who would bring a focus to the role in a way similar to that of his character from Good Will hunting whilst displaying the strength shown in the Bourne films. But capturing the signature of Damon wouldn't exactly be easy.
The Bad (Las Vegas)Randall Flagg - Tom Hiddleston
Randall Flagg, also known as "the Dark Man, is the bad guy of the novel and King's fictional universe on a whole. He is however more than simply a bad guy, he is the embodiment of evil, an antichrist-like being whose goal is destruction and death. In the novel, he is presented as the exact opposite of Mother Abigail. He is a character that shows up in a number of Kings books and it is often hinted that he is immortal. At times Flagg's appearance shifts between human, demon, and various animal. Like Mother Abagail, Flagg appears to various survivors in their dreams, providing a choice and attracting those who are drawn to destruction and power. He is cunning, devious and incredibly evil and that is why when I asked myself who could play him the name that came to mind was Thor villain Tom Hiddleston
. His performance as Loki was superb, both subtle and malevolent at the same time. With Flagg he would have to turn up the malevolence a notch or two more than the mischievous Loki but I think he could handle that with ease. If Tom is too busy in the Marvel Universe maybe Zachary Quinto
(Heroes Sylar and Star Treks Spock) would be available to take up the role of Flagg, he has shown a number of times that he can do sinister and do it well. Can you imagine if they could tie up Hiddleston to play Randall Flag in a number of Warner Bros/Stephen King adaptations? Lloyd Henreid - Sam Rockwell
Lloyd starts off as a petty criminal who engages in a killing spree across a number of states resulting in six murders and his detention in a Phoenix jail where it is likely that he will be eventually placed on Death Row. However once the plague hits, people in his prison start dying, including the guards. Lloyd is left in his cell and eventually becomes the sole survivor. He is then found by Randall Flagg, who frees him from his cell after Lloyd agrees to be his right-hand man despite suspicions about Flagg being Satan himself. For this role I feel that it needs someone that evokes suspicion with a slight hint of incompetance. After seeing him as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2, I think that Sam Rockwell
would handle this role well. Hell be suitably evil at times whilst still being able to convincingly cower at Flaggs wrath. "The Trashcan Man" -
Robert Knepper Donald Merwin Elbert, better known as the "Trashcan Man", is a schizophrenic pyromaniac, whose favorite phrases include "bumpty, bumpty, bump!" and "my life for you." He was subjected to shock treatments at an institution in Terre Haute, Indiana, before being incarcerated for arson as a teenager. He abandons his original plans of starting fires randomly all over America to join Flagg when the Dark Man appears in his dreams and promises him work, "great work" in the desert. Remembering the character of The Trashcan Man man the name that immediately came to mind to play him was Robert Knepper
, Prison Breaks T-Bag. He has the uncanny ability to give an uncomfortable performance laced with slyness and insanity.
I look forward to seeing who David Yates manages to get on board for this project, its a lot darker than even the last two Potter films and will require a big investment from Warner Bros for what will hopefully be an R-Rated project. The list above would be very expensive and would require all the actors to sign up for 2-3 films and lets hope that both Warner Bros are prepared to make that commitment especially as it seems that the Dark Tower series is still sitting in development hell.