Hulu has already ventured into the realm of Stephen King with 11.22.63., but the streaming network’s upcoming mystery series Castle Rock will be unlike any King adaptation we’ve seen before — mostly because the 10-episode series isn’t an adaptation at all.
Executive producer Dustin Thomason says that the creative team approached the project “wanting to tell a new story that felt fundamentally Kingian” rather than retread any previous King tale.
“It wasn’t a question of ‘can we tell this particular thread of Pennywise or Carrie,’ but ‘how can we tell a story that honors the spirit of what Stephen King has been doing over and over again for 40 years’ … without a context for it except what people know and love about Stephen King.”
Fellow EP Sam Shaw explains that the show is an original tale that “brushes against some of the best-loved characters and iconic locations” of King’s multiverse, including Shawshank Prison, which will play an integral role in the first season, since it’s located close to the titular town.
The story centers around Andre Holland’s character, Henry, a death row attorney who is drawn into “an unusual case at Shawshank Prison” that involves Bill Skarsgard’s character.
Skarsgard — already familiar with King’s universe thanks to his role as Pennywise in the recent reboot of IT — revealed that West Virginia Penitentiary served as the shooting location for Shawshank, and, fittingly, it’s regarded as one of the most haunted places in America.
“There’s engravings and graffiti [on the walls] from actual prisoners,” he reveals. “So it really helps me get in character … it’s horrifying that people have spent years in those brutal conditions.”
Skarsgard isn’t the only King alum in the series — his co-stars include Carrie icon Sissy Spacek and Red Rose‘s Melanie Lynskey — and Spacek admits, “I was afraid that I would never have the opportunity to do something this twisted again … it’s an homage to Stephen King and I certainly owe Stephen King a lot.”
Spacek plays Ruth, Henry’s mother, and the two have a strained relationship because of some “extenuating circumstances” that neither Spacek or Holland want to say more about before fans see the show.
“My character does have a complicated relationship, not just with his mother but with a lot of people in the town, because of these extenuating circumstances that have affected Henry,” Holland teases. “What we see is a person trying to reconcile that.”
Another fun fact about Ruth? She’s in a relationship with another iconic King character, Alan Pangborne (played by Scott Glenn), the legendary sheriff of Castle Rock. Needless to say, Pangborne isn’t unaffected by the town’s troubled past, and Thomason previews that the show will explore “what is it like for that guy to be a lion in winter looking back on the dark history of what he watched.”
Since plenty of King stories dabble in the supernatural, it’s safe to assume that the show might play in that sandbox too. Thomason wouldn’t confirm that, since “even to answer that question might be to spoil your experience,” but he did concede that “a lot of terrible things have happened to Castle Rock and the denizens of that town, [so] trying to figure out what is a supernatural event and what is dumb luck, who is a monster and who is a victim is part of the fabric of the show. It’s not lost on us that things tend to get pretty bonkers in Stephen King, and we like bonkers.”
Castle Rock premieres on Hulu in 2018.