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Stephen King doesn’t “think anything is unfilmable now.”
The prolific author has seen many of his works adapted for film and television — including CBS All Access’ The Stand, HBO’s The Outsider and the It franchise — and singled out the personal nature of bringing Lisey’s Story to life on Apple as perhaps one of the bigger challenges in adapting his vast library.
“Be all the way in, as much as possible, or be all the way out,” King said Friday about his philosophy for bringing his work to the screen. “There’s been a lot of projects [where it’s like] step back, write books, maybe something will come along, a passion project, and this was that, a passion project.”
Lisey’s Story marks a rare move for King, who wrote all eight episodes of Apple’s take on his 2006 horror-romance best-seller Lisey’s Story. The series, which reunites him with frequent collaborator J.J. Abrams, along with stars Julianne Moore and Clive Owen, and is due in the summer on the streamer.
“Stephen makes a great point, most anything is filmable,” Abrams told reporters Friday during a virtual panel as part of the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. “The question is what should be — and not what can be. It’s hard to think of all the amazing stories Stephen has written.”
King noted that the personal nature of Lisey’s Story made filming the series “particularly challenging” as “it goes through so many different levels of remembrance.” The thriller revolves around Lisey Landon (Moore) two years after the death of her husband, famous novelist Scott Landon (Owen). The drama follows the unsettling events that prompt Lisey to face memories of her marriage to Scott that she has deliberately blocked out of her mind.
“Lisey’s Story means a lot to me because it’s the one I love best,” King told reporters Friday. “It’s a story about love and marriage and the creative impulse and it’s also got a kickass villain in it, which I liked a lot.”
King noted that the novel was inspired by his own experience coming home after being hospitalized with double pneumonia. Following a three-week hospitalization, King arrived as his wife decided to remodel his office. While still heavily medicated and trying to get back on his feet, he was stunned to find his office completely empty. “I thought, ‘This is what this room would look like after I die,’ and Lisey’s Story came from that,” he said.
While much of Lisey’s Story was filmed before the pandemic forced productions across the globe to shut down, shooting was ultimately finished after many TV series returned to work. producers also noted that the pandemic makes a lot of the themes in Lisey’s Story more relevant now than a year ago. “Themes of isolation, loneliness and how we view the past come through in a different way now,” said Bad Robot head of television Ben Stephenson. Added King: “What gave me a chill was a scene where we see Lisey come into hospital room and she’s wearing a mask. I thought, ‘My God, this is what we’re all doing now.'”
Lisey’s Story marks the latest collaboration for Abrams and King, who previously teamed on Hulu’s Castle Rock and 11.22.63. The duo met during Abrams’ breakout, Lost, and have remained in touch in the years that followed. King also noted that he and Abrams have been discussing a horror anthology called Tiny Horrors. (Additional details on the project were not immediately available.)
“They’ve got a great organization and give great Christmas presents at the end of the year,” King joked of his long-standing partnership with Abrams’ Bad Robot banner. “I just love working with them. It’s been a great relationship.”
A specific premiere date for Lisey’s Story has not yet been announced.
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