Stephen King’s “The Stand”: Four-Film Franchise Coming Soon!


I don’t write a lot of pieces about upcoming films, because as a rule I don’t get too excited about things which have yet to come to fruition.  This, however, is a major exception to the rule.  The Stand is probably my favorite book by one of my favorite authors, the inimitable Stephen King;  I know that in this blog’s infancy I wrote about flinging the (not-insubstantial) tome against a dorm-room wall in anger at a particular plot twist, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it.  The early-nineties miniseries adaptation was a major television event in a way few programs are these days, and I ate it up like candy.  It was my first exposure to Gary Sinise, the last time I saw Molly Ringwald in anything (I believe), and a big part of the cultural zeitgeist of the time.  I even recorded it on a VHS tape, pausing out the commercial breaks to make it one long unbroken viewing party, and I viewed the crap out of it.  It was a true epic, despite the constraints of the made-for-television format and lack, for the most part, of A-list talent.  My quibbles with the book– with a LOT of King’s works in my younger and more altruistic days, actually– mainly stemmed from the “Anyone Can Die” trope that it utilized for all it was worth, and while some character deaths are necessary and even beneficial to almost any plot, I was all riled up about one specific death that came off as if King couldn’t figure out a logical denouement for the character in question and thus just killed him off.  However, many years have passed since then, and I have steeped myself in other authors’ work that also deals in Major Character Deaths moving the plot along– George R.R. Martin comes to mind, as does Terry Brooks, Harry Turtledove, and even Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling.  As a result, I’ve grown a thicker skin in regard to character death (even though I still threw Martin’s A Storm of Swords against a wall).  In all probability, I will be perusing King’s massive novel again in the not-too-distant future with older and less judgmental eyes, just to prep for the upcoming film franchise.

Franchise?  Yeah, a whole franchise.  The book is sprawling enough to dictate at least three theatrical-length films to give it its proper due, but we will be getting an embarrassment of riches in no less than four films, and I’m pretty stoked.  At the helm is Josh Boone, director of The Fault in Our Stars, who will also be tackling the screenplay(s).  He had previously finished a script for a three-hour The Stand movie, but was given the okay from Warner Bros. to make it a series of four.  It’s been reported that Matthew McConaughey is being courted for the role of Randall Flagg, the evil antagonist, and I have to say I hope that’s true– I can definitely see him having a field day with such a part.  An all A-list cast is promised, and until there is casting confirmation, I’ve been having loads of fun creating my own dream cast.

Am I the only one who has been consistently finding parallels between The Stand and The Walking Dead?  I can’t help but see Andrew Lincoln as the IDEAL Stu Redman with Norman Reedus cast as Larry Underwood or maybe Nick Andros (though he might be a touch too old for Nick).  Of course that’s just a pipe dream– no way would the shooting schedule for TWD accommodate filming a whole quadrilogy, plus the actors themselves probably wouldn’t be interested in getting typecast as apocalypse survivors.  So much for that.  More realistically, who could I see in these roles?

  • Stu Redman– The main protagonist, a sort of everyman from Texas.  You wouldn’t want to go too drop-dead gorgeous for this sort of role, so forget your Ryan Reynoldses or Christian Bales.  Why am I thinking Gerard Butler?  Or maybe even… (gulp, it pains me to say this) Mark Wahlberg?  No, as cool as Ted was, he is still Marky Mark to me and I’m standing by first choice Gerard.
  • Frannie Goldsmith– Stu’s love interest, a pregnant college-age girl.  Our Frannie should be old enough not to be creepy with Stu, so that leaves out the Fannings.  Jennifer Lawrence would be awesome, but unlikely, as would Elizabeth Olsen, whose commitment to playing Scarlet Witch in the Avengers franchise might interfere.  Shailene Woodley also has her own franchise duties.  Emma Stone can easily play younger and needs a franchise.  That would be pretty cool.
  • Larry Underwood– a one-hit wonder rocker, now down on his luck even before the world ends.  I’d like to see what Chris Pine could do with Larry.  Or possibly Bradley Cooper, though he might be a smidge too old.  Josh Hartnett would probably nail it, too.
  • Nadine Cross– a conflicted soul to whom Larry is initially attracted before she turns to the dark side.  For some reason this has Christina Ricci written all over it for me, or maybe Bryce Dallas Howard, though it might be interesting to see someone like Kristin Bell play against type here.
  • Nick Andros– a deaf-mute man with a heart of gold.  Played by Rob Lowe in the miniseries.  In the vein of erstwhile pretty-boys going for a meaty role, perhaps Orlando Bloom or Zac Efron?
  • Harold Lauder– The sad-sack former classmate of Frannie’s whose desperate love for her causes him to make questionable choices.  How about John Francis Daley?  Or Jay Baruchel?  (Please, please no Michael Cera.)
  • Tom Cullen– Nick’s mentally-disabled sidekick, basically a huge grown-up child.  He’s supposed to be quite tall, and I can only think of a couple of really tall actors that might pull it off.  I’d actually like to see what Vince Vaughn could do with a dramatic role, but Vincent D’Onofrio might be a better choice, despite his penchant for playing heavies.
  • Mother Abigail– The leader of the “good” community (versus the “bad” community led by Flagg), a saintly elderly lady whom I could absolutely see the great Cicely Tyson playing, though I don’t think anyone can top the stellar performance the late Ruby Dee gave to the role in the miniseries.
  • The Trashcan Man– a psychotic firebug played by Matt Frewer originally.  Is it wrong of me to totally see Gary Busey as Trashy?
  • Glen Bateman– Stu’s elderly friend and confidante.  Alan Arkin?  One of the hardest-working guys in the business, and a tragically underrated one, but his voice has a distinctly New York cadence that might rule him out.  He’s still my number-one pick for the role, however.
  •  Lloyd Henreid– Flagg’s right-hand man and Stephen King’s personal favorite character, he’s kind of the flip side of a Stu Redman:  another everyman, but one who has made the wrong choices. There are two ways you could play Lloyd:  either as a luckless schlub, or as hardened by his life and the bad decisions he’s made.  In the original miniseries, Miguel Ferrar managed to make Lloyd both, and it’s difficult to imagine another actor doing the part justice.  However, I think Paul Giamatti would be amazing here.

Anyway, those are just my ideas, and I’m not messing with Randall Flagg right now since the notion of Matthew McConaughey is just killer awesome.  Who would you pick for your favorite characters?


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