Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
November 23, 2007.
What can one say about
author Stephen King – one of the most successful writers of all time? King
is the perfect name for the man, for he has conquered the world of weird
fiction, horror and science fiction. And thanks to the success of the many
films made from his numerous novels, he has not only turned on millions to
once obscure genres, but made stars of dozens of actors.
Born in Portland, Maine, King started out publishing his first story in a
fanzine but quickly graduated to the professional publishing world. While he
cranked out his many novels, Hollywood discovered his work and the rest, as
they say, is history. He has made more than $40 million a year, has been
nominated for numerous awards, owns radio stations, has played in rock
bands, has three kids, and keeps writing even when he has threatened to
retire and was injured in an auto accident.
As for Frank Darabont,
he's been one director who has achieved incredible success turning King's
books into films. This three-time Oscar nominee was born in a refugee camp
in 1959, the son of Hungarians who fled Budapest during the failed 1956
Hungarian revolution. Darabont is one of only six filmmakers with the unique
distinction of having had his first two features receive nominations for the
Best Picture Oscars —
1994's The Shawshank Redemption (with a total of seven nominations)
and 1999's The Green Mile (four nominations), both based on King's
stories. In cinematically adapting The Mist, a King short story from
the early '80s, Darabont has defied expectations, improving on the story
with a powerful unexpected ending.
originally wrote this novella during the Vietnam War, yet it seems as much a
story for today. What were the origins of the story, and why do you see it
as appropriate for 2007?
It wasn't during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was over by the time that
I wrote it. Kirby McCauley [King's friend and agent at the time] was putting
together an anthology called Dark Forces and he wanted all these
original stories from people who wrote in the genre. I said, "You know,
Kirby, I don't think I can do that because I'm blocked, I'm not writing
anything." And I hadn't.
I had just finished three books. There was Carrie, 'Salem's
Lot, Night Shift, and I was kind of stuck, really. I happened to be in
the local market one time and a lot of people were shopping. I looked at the
front windows and thought, if something bad happened, those windows would
all blow in — because that's the way I think. It's not necessarily a good
thing, but it's been a profitable thing over the years.
As I mulled it over,
this story came out of it. I've always been grateful to The Mist
because it broke me out of a place where I couldn't seem to do anything.
This story just came very naturally, and in terms of Vietnam or any other
conflict, if you're writing seriously — by which I mean trying as hard as
you can — the issues that are in your mind and the things you've been
through are all going to play a part.
movie attacks [religious] fundamentalism. Is this an issue that was relevant
back then, and if so, does it apply even today?
Well, Mrs. Carmody [played by Marcia Gay Harden] was there back then, and
Mrs. Carmody in Frank's [Darabont] movie is very much the Mrs. Carmody that
was in the story. I don't want to go out and make political statements. I'm
a storyteller and Frank's a storyteller, that's what we do. But I've said
this before, and I'll say again, that if you're trying to do your best work,
these things are going to come up. They're going to become part of the
story, and people are going to ask questions about it.
Is The Mist
a political story?
The Mist a story
that has to do with the dangers of entrenched religion, fundamentalist
religion? Is The Mist a story about red vs. blue?
I'm not going to answer any of those questions. You go see the movie. Those
questions will come up and maybe you'll discuss them. If it serves as a
springboard, that's great.
Fear has played
such a major role in your work. How has the notion of "fear" evolved in your
mind, and how do you apply it in your work?
Fear is a survival function. If you're afraid of certain things
— walking down the center line of a highway
at night, going out in hunting season in Maine not dressed in something
that's red or orange, you're afraid that you might get shot. So I think of
fear as a survival function, and in the stories that I write, the only thing
that I've tried to do is provide people with nightmares which are really
safe places to put those fears for a while. You can say afterwards, "Well,
it was all just make-believe anyway, so I just took my emotions for a
This is a negative
emotion; it's a kind of a pit bull in the human mind. It needs to have a
place to walk, and it needs to be petted every now and then, and that's what
these stories try to do. In The Mist, you know that these people are
trapped in a supermarket and things happen to them that are inexplicable or
not normal. But sooner or later every one of us faces those things in our
own life. You might call it "cancer" instead of
"things in the mist," but we're all afraid of those things, and it seems
valid to me to explore them. But if I have any more ideas about fear, I'm
glad I do what I do because it's allowed me to vent a lot of this stuff and
get paid for it, whereas people who go to shrinks pay them. This is a
"win-win" for me.
straddles between the science fiction and supernatural genres. How did you
view this project?
I was writing the book. That's the short answer to that. In terms of the
science fiction, I've written a lot of stories that I think of as sort-of
science fiction. For me it always has to be "sort-of" science fiction
because I was a "C" chemistry student, and a "B-" physics student.
I was never a geek and I never had a lot of those skills, or that
knowledge base. But on the other hand, I saw a lot of movies in the '50s
like The Thing, and Them, and I know that radiation causes
monsters. And most important of all, I know that if we mess around too much
with the unknown, something awful will happen.
The first law of physics: radiation makes monsters [laughs]. I love
this stuff, too. We have a common genetic predisposition towards loving
these sorts of things. This is what brought me to this master's work in the
first place, because I love this stuff. But to me it's the fun part. It's
the trappings. Is it a little science fiction? Yeah. Is it a little horror?
Hopefully, it's a lot horror. But ultimately what makes him such a muscular,
master storyteller is the fact that he never dissolves just into the
trappings. It's about the human core of the storytelling.
It's always about that
journey of the human condition. That's what makes it particularly valid,
particularly relevant. It's an examination of fear. It's an examination of
people operating in a pressure cooker of fear where fear replaces reason.
That's why I've always loved this story. It wasn't so much about the "mist"
outside the windows with the groovy critters in it. It's about what the
people are going through inside the market. It winds up being pretty real,
and pretty disturbing because there's nothing scarier than human nature and
human behaviors. That's why I thought the thing
had some muscle. It's about fearing fear itself. What does it do to people,
how does it wig them out? How does it compel us? Does it bring us together?
Does it tear us apart? Do we make mistakes? This is pretty meaty stuff for a
filmmaker, and I can't thank you enough for letting me make the movie.
[laughs] So there.
A lot of writers
get disenfranchised when Hollywood comes in and tries to turn one of their
books into a movie. What makes you feel so comfortable in turning over your
projects to Frank?
Tell them about your big Wang.
I used to have a big Wang, but of course I was
younger then. It was a Wang Word Processor. Get your minds out of the
gutter. [laughs] I love to work with Frank. I've worked with Frank,
and I don't work with Frank. I basically stand aside and let Frank do his
thing. Frank still has a child's imagination coupled with an adult's ability
to see the core of the material and then execute his vision. So you've got a
couple of things going on there that hook up together that you don't see in
a lot of filmmakers. You do see it in some, and they do good work.
Frank has always done good work. I feel very comfortable that I'm
going to get something from Frank that's going to be usually extraordinary.
In my case, he's done The Woman in the Room, Shawshank, The Green Mile"
and he's done The Mist. And it isn't just me.
I hear from other people all the time. They'll say, "I just loved
those movies, you know." I gotta tell this story.
So I'm there in the supermarket one day and I've got my little cart. I come
around the corner and there's this woman, I'm going to say she was about 95,
and she said, "I know who you are. You write those stories, those awful
horror stories. I don't respect that. I don't like that. I like uplifting
movies like that Shawshank Redemption." And I said, I wrote that. And
she said, "No you didn't." And that was it [laughs].
What satisfies you
in working with Frank? What about the other movies that have been made from
your work? Has there been frustration for you?
No, there's never been any frustration. Either they're good or they're bad,
and if they're bad I just kind of laugh. There's a story about the college
newspaper reporter who came to see [crime novelist] James M. Cain toward the
end of his life, and the young reporter was bemoaning what Hollywood had
done to his books. Cain whipped right around in his chair, pointed at the
shelf and said, "They haven't done a damn thing, son. They're all right up
there." And that's the case.
I'm always interested
to see what's going to happen when you beat the piñata. It's always a little
bit different. It's good sometimes, and you know, sometimes it's…
Children of the Corn. You just can't tell what's going to happen. But
I'm always interested to see.
was the book you were doing that you couldn't do this movie with Frank?
It's called Dew McKee. It's going to be out in January... And they
make wonderful presents.
When you write a
story like this or make a film, how much are you influenced by other
literature, films, or theater? One of the scenes in this film seemed similar
to Eugene Ionesco's "Rhinoceros."
I haven't read "Rhinoceros," but I'm flattered by the comparison to Ionesco,
even if it's just coincidental. But I just get the idea and work on the
story and I don't really worry a lot about influences. I'm sure that I am
influenced. But I think the best way to deal with that is you forge ahead.
I think we're all influenced, as any storyteller is probably influenced by
the things that came before. Sometimes it's completely unconscious, but
certainly he's been an influence on me. I think you've been an influence on
a lot of people. A lot of people have tried to copy it through the years.
Nobody's equaled it, though.
Well I'm a child of everything that I've read. The biggest influence on my
life is going to be a movie in December – I Am Legend by Richard
Matheson. I've read Poe and Lovecraft and all those guys. I thought that
they were good, but I didn't have that kind of visceral connection where I
thought, "Oh yeah, this guy is doing it on my block, I like that."
That's one of my top five favorite books.
I love that.
It's high on the list.
And it's on the bestseller list again now, too.
Is it really?
Oh good, they're reading the book. Does it really look like I Am Legend
or does it look like a remake of The Omega Man?
I haven't seen the movie; they're reading the book.
Yeah, that's great, that's awesome. I can't wait to see it actually.
are your biggest fears?
Oh, people. Check out the 21st century so far. I'm afraid it's going
to make the 20th look like Romper Room. And you know there's
nothing that scares me more than what people are capable of. This is
actually what this movie is about. To me it's a rather timeless thing to
say. It goes back to Greek tragedy. What are people capable of when they are
influenced by lack of reason and fear? That's what scares me. The other
stuff — you're taking out the pit bull and petting it, and taking it for a
walk, you know. It's the fun stuff. You exercise the terror mechanism. This
gentleman has made a great, great career and a legendary name for himself
doing that. That's the fun part, the controlled experiment in fear. What
really scares me is the uncontrolled realities of it.
I'm afraid of everything. It shows in my work – elevators, cars. The thing
that started the new book was basically a combination of an accident that I
had with a truck that was backing up and the beeper was broken. Somebody
said, "Look out!" and a whole big long novel came
out of that. But I'm with Frank on this, and that's one of the reasons why I
love this movie because it was a little bit like having somebody scratch a
place on the middle of my back that I couldn't reach myself.
I mean, every night
when I go to bed and nobody popped a rogue nuke somewhere in the world, I
feel this sort of combination of "I don't believe we escaped for another
day," and gratitude because we did escape for another day. There's so much
of that stuff out there. I've written a lot of different things about that
from The Stand to The Mist, where a lot of people out there
are afraid, they're angry, because fear and anger go hand-in-hand. They're
the original sin version of the Bobbsey Twins, you know, fear and anger.
somebody to say, "Well, we had the answer, we had the only answer,” because
whatever the religion might happen to be, they're the ones who say “we have
the only answer, so let's get down on our knees and pray about it” — and
then on your way out there's guns in the vestry.
"And do as you're told or we'll kick your ass."
That's right, or "we'll kick your ass because our God's bigger than your
God." Now I'm not saying The Mist is about those things, because
that's for you to decide, but I'm not saying that it's not. To a degree it's
about big bugs, too.
Yeah baby. We love the big bugs.
great to see your movie and books and stories back in theater for the first
time in a while. How do you make the decision between making a movie or a TV
miniseries for your stories?
First of all, I think it's good to see my movies back again too. They were
in rehab for a while, but they're better now. No, I mean… whenever anybody
talks to me, whether it's a musical version of Carrie or whether it's
— there have been two, you know, play versions of Carrie. One was
great, and the other was so weirdly bad that it was great too. It sort of
was. So whenever anybody wants to try, I'm sort of up for that as long as
they make a minimal amount of sense. If nobody else came along and wanted to
make another movie, I could live with that. But I'm hoping that Frank and I
can work together again at least four more times.
Yeah. I'm waiting for the next prison story.
I thought The Mist was sort of a prison story.
Well, it is, yeah. We need another one, man. Of course, it winds up being
kind of a prison story doesn't it?
I know that Frank
wrote the ending for you. How was your reaction when you first read that
I loved it. I loved it. It puts a button on it. I thought about this when I
wrote the story. If you guys have got it, you'll see that Frank has been
very faithful to the story. But when Frank and I talked about The Mist,
he would always say to me, you know, it's got to have a strong ending.
And you would say the same thing to me from time to time.
That's right. What we were too kind to say to each other was that the story
has — I won't say it's a weak ending, exactly, but it was the kind of ending
that my late mother didn't respect. She called them "Alfred Hitchcock"
endings, you know, you were kind of left to make up your own mind. She had
nothing but contempt for that. Frank came up with an ending to the movie
that I thought was terrific on the page, and the only time that I ever
wavered even slightly was when I actually saw it.
I said to myself,
"This is so shocking that there ought to be ads in the newspaper that say if
you reveal the last five minutes of this movie you'll be hung by the neck
until death." That's the one thing that I hate about the Internet age, all
that stuff goes out.
Me too, me too.
do you feel about this adaptation compared to Frank's other three?
I love it. Frank does good work, and this thing has a different look. It's a
wonderful sort of documentary feel. It's separated from the other field of
horror suspense movies of the last couple of years because of that
documentary feel. It has a sense of The Twilight Zones that I loved
when I was a kid, The Outer Limits episodes that I loved as a kid.
But also, here's a movie that was made by an adult. It's not — I'm not going
to name any names, but it isn't part of this pack of young guys who haven't
quite come to a realization yet that this is as serious as any other genre.
So you've got a picture that asks some serious questions. If people want to
ask them, or if they just want to have a good time, it's there, too. But it
has a wonderful realistic look that I was just crazy about. Frank also has a
number of different actors that he's worked with over the years. Some of
them are in the movie — Jeffrey DeMunn, who's always been a favorite of
mine, to the point where he's recorded some of my books on tape. I love
Thomas Jane, always have.
Bill Sadler, who played the Thomas Jane role in the audio book of The
Mist, God knows how many years ago.
It's amazing. And Marcia Gay Harden. So what's not to like… for me?
You talked about
the sort of limited budget that you worked with here. Do you have an
affection for films that are based on sort of economy, and getting as much
as you can out of that?
Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I was anxious to embrace that aesthetic. Some of
my all–time favorite movies in the genre, the most muscular things, Night
of the Living Dead, for example…
… Night of the Living Dead…
… came out of very limited resources.
There's some muscularity to that sometimes that you can capture.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Like Joe Bob Briggs used to say, "[To] the Texas critic ain't nothing better
Joe Bob, yeah.
I haven't seen him in years. No, I really wanted to embrace that aesthetic
because I felt that this had a real ballsy muscularity, I would have to say.
To categorize Shawshank as a different kind of story, I would dispute
that because the commonality here is Stephen King never lets you down in
terms of writing a muscular, human story. Whatever the trappings, whatever
the settings are, whatever the specifics of the story are, it comes from
that storytelling muscle, which is why I think this guy single-handedly took
horror out of the ghetto of literature and put it into the mainstream. I
have said you never saw grandmas in an airport lounge reading a horror novel
until Stephen King came along and brought the storytelling values of a real
writer to the genre and elevated it. And we have him to thank for that.
I try to put real people in stories. I would like to be able to do that, to
put real people who are not clichés. I'd like some texture in my stuff, you
know, and Frank has always respected that. This is a movie you could
categorize as a horror movie. I never tell anybody what to do about that.
Call it whatever you want to, but please, they're real people in that
supermarket, and you get a real sense of human people. And it's not
Friday the 13th - Part VI. It's got a lot more texture than
curious about the role of the military in
The role of the military is incidental. The role of the creatures, honestly,
is incidental. To me it's all context for the story that's being told, which
is that super-heated character ensemble of people who are getting the hell
scared out of them and colliding like pinballs. I mean, that's the physics
of the story that Steve set in motion, and that's what really attracted me
to it. It's what happens when the thin veneer of civilization is laid aside
and people are scared, and they lose their reason and their ability to have
a rational conversation. It makes it pretty timely, it makes it pretty
relevant. It also makes for just damn good storytelling. That's why I always
loved the story.
When I was writing the story, it certainly crossed my mind. It isn't even a
conscious thought. It's almost like something that's gone through and been
absorbed into your imagination and your subconscious, is the idea that we're
all sort of puppets. There are a lot of people fooling around with a lot of
things, and we don't have any say, in a lot of cases. Apparently, AT&T and
some of these other companies were listening in on people's phone calls long
before it started to be a political issue. They have that technology, and
they can do it. We couldn't very well call it the collateral damage market,
but in a sense, you know there's something going on, and these people are
not responsible for it. They're, would you say, caught in the middle.
Yeah, well, the reasonable people are always caught in the middle, caught in
the middle of a lot of machinations, and a lot of which I'm sure we don't
know about. That makes me paranoid, and who was it that says sometimes we're
not paranoid enough. I think that's probably true.
You're not paranoid if they really are after you.
And they are, Steve, they're after you.
But I have my tin foil hat, Frank. Takes care of a lot of things.
I'm wearing my tin foil underwear right now. It's a lacy little number, and
you're receiving signals from somewhere. Sorry [laughs].
How would you say
your writing has evolved over the years? Has your writing gotten more angry
or softer over the years? And Frank, what book of Stephen King's have you
not done yet that you want to do and why?
Oh, good question. Be thinking about that. I want to hear that. First thing
that crossed my mind when you said how's my writing evolved, I say probably
I know two or three thousand more words than I did when I was 24, so my
vocabulary's improved a little bit. No, I'm not as angry as I used to be –
because I'm not 25 anymore, I'm 60. That'll kick your ass every time.
There's an Elvis Costello song that says "I used to be angry now I'm just
amused," or something like that.
I'm not amused, but
there's a little more despair in some of the works than there used to be. In
that sense The Mist is actually a fairly mature work in that it's
darker than some of the other stuff. I'm still just trying to tell good
stories and find a way to do that. Not repeat myself and not fall into a
rut. Furnish it and find new ways to do things. And I guess that's it.
Well, he's getting less angry as he gets older. I'm getting more and more
pissed off. I always had this sunny optimist in me. He's just getting a
little beat up lately. You know, when I was younger, I always had this
notion that we can pretty much work anything out. But I've realized as I get
older that that takes some goodwill on the part of the people who are doing
the talking, or not doing the talking, as the case may be. And it's just
making me kind of angrier.
If you get his emails…
Oh yeah, oh yeah. I'll rant. I'll rant on occasion. I don't think there's
anything we can't work out, but we seem to be determined not to. And in a
way that kind of feeds back into The Mist as a story. I'm clinging to
hope, but it's not the easiest thing in the world to do. I'm stuck in the
middle of that argument that Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman had at the mess
hall table. Is hope a good thing or is it just stupid? I'm right in the
middle of that equation. The pleasure of doing what we do for a living is
that we can work some of this stuff out in our work, we can tell stories, or
co-opt a great story to express those things.
What was the weirdest
story Mr. King has written?
Probably the weirdest story Steve ever wrote is "The Long Walk."
[to King] I've been meaning to ask you, didn't you start writing that
when you were in high school?
I was in college... a freshman.
This is amazingly mature work for a kid who was in college. That, I do
believe, was in the shadow of Vietnam, wasn't it?
Oh yeah, very much. That was started in '67, so it was, right...
Yeah. It's pretty amazing stuff. And that influence is there for sure.
The one that got started in high school is not in print anymore. It's called
"Rage," yes. I know, I've read it.
just referenced Elvis Costello. You are an enormous rock & roll fan. Do you
have much faith left in the genre, and are you finding new things to listen
Yeah, I always find new things to listen to. I'm crazy about a live album of
a Raspberries reunion concert in Beverly Hills. The Raspberries were a power
pop group in the 70's and they're all looking their age, and they sound
great. But the new Steve Earle record is great. There's an album by The
Thrills – that's really great.
So I find stuff to
listen to, but rock'n'roll is now the new jazz. It's divided up into a lot
of different areas, and it's become a specialty taste. It's played on
specialty stations, college FM, that sort of thing. There's no more
mainstream rock as we know it. If the Rolling Stones or Tom Petty release a
new record on your local FM that has this spuriously friendly name of a man
— it would be like Frank-FM, you know, Jack-FM, whatever — they'll play "[I
Can’t Get No] Satisfaction," and then they'll say in passing, "Oh by the
way, the Stones have a new record, but we're not going to play it because we
know you only want to hear that old shit."
So… there you are. But
yeah, rock's okay. I listen to a lot more sort of all country now because
it's sort of like the rock that I remember, but it's new. Ray Wiley Hubbard,
and Cross Canadian Ragweed, people like that.
Stephen, you directed
only one movie,
which shows up on TV every other week. Will you ever direct one again?
I'd never say never. I think it would be great sometime to direct a movie
when I wasn't cocked and drunk out of my mind and see what came out. But I'm
not crazy to do it. What I miss, what I really regret, is Frank asked me if
I would act in The Mist, and for one reason or another I wasn't able
to do it. But damn, I kick myself.
I know, we missed you. We missed you. I wanted him to play the biker. I
wanted him to grow his beard out, get that shaggy Stephen King look and have
I've got a shotgun in my truck. I'll try for it if you want me to. I was
That wound up being the role that Brian Libby played. Brian was in the very
first Stephen King piece that I directed, that little short film when I was
in my early '20s. He was in Shawshank and he was in Green Mile.
So oddly enough, I missed you, and I'm sorry you weren't able to come do
He was a professional, and I'm really not. So…
Yeah, but you would have kicked ass.
Yeah, I would have tried.
splitting your time between Florida and Maine, how does that change the
location for you in terms of your stories since location has often played so
much a part?
Well, the new book has a Florida setting, but we've been going back and
forth to Florida ten years and I still feel tentative about it. It takes a
while to get the texture of a place. So I've kind of get my mental blast
shield down about that.
You guys mentioned
Richard Matheson. He's a great choice. But what are some of the other
writers in science fiction, horror, that you consider people you're still
excited about, or new people that you're excited about?
Richard Matheson was the first one who really influenced me. Robert Bloch
was another one. Today, Jack Ketchum, Bentley Little… I read across a wide
spectrum. I don't just read horror. That would be kind of boring. But there
are a lot of different people that I really like. Kelly Link is great. I
really like Kelly Link. She doesn't work that field specifically, but I like
her stuff a lot.
Well, he's been hugely influential to me as well as others. I love his work.
I revisit his books every few years. I'll pull another one off the shelf and
revisit it. I just reread Eyes of the Dragon, which was awesome.
It's going to be a French cartoon.
Is it really? That 's awesome. Matheson is hugely iconic to me.
Remember Charles Beaumont?
Charles Beaumont, amazing short story writer. He did a lot of Twilight
Zone work with Rod Serling. Rod Serling – amazingly influential writer.
The Body Snatchers, baby.
Paddy Chayefsky, a dramatist. He's tattooed in my brain because he was so
inspiring to me. And Ray Bradbury, [who is] a god and a marvelous human
being. I've gotten to know him in the last seven years or so. Weird thing…
to get to know your icons. It's awesome.
How about David Mamet? He writes the best dialogue.
Mamet's pretty muscular. There's David J. Schow [He wrote the screenplay for
such films as The Crow and apparently invented the term, if not the
horror sub-genre, of “splatterpunk”]. Not that many people know his work,
but boy, he's a muscular writer.
We can go on and on all day.
We can go on and on all day. Absolutely one of my all time favorite science
fiction works is Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller.
Walter Miller, right.
He didn't write that many things, but boy, he floors me with this. I am
trying to think of my favorite books and dredging the authors out of my
tough. I mean; this is like an oral exam. I don't know how you feel abut
this, but when somebody asks me that question, I feel like that concert
where everybody got burned to death. It’s like everybody crams for the exit
at once. When somebody asks me that question, nobody actually gets burned to
But you know what I'm saying.
I love the guy who wrote those "Bazooka Joe" bubble gum things.
Oh man, that guy, yeah.
And the "GI Joe" cards.
Yeah, and that too.
Jack Kirby, he's another one. A lot of the comic writers [like] Joe
and Archie Goodwin...
That's right; [and there's] Allan Moore, Mike Mignola, and Eric Powell. The
stuff being done in comics today are just stunning.
You had mentioned
your dissatisfaction with the "splat pack." I was curious how you feel about
horror filmmaking in general these days?
I'm not dissatisfied with the splat pack. I can't wait to go see P2.
I'm excited to see P2. I was excited to see the remake of
Halloween. Hostel II, I was there the first day that baby opened.
There's some I like and some of them I don't. But in a lot of cases, it
feels to me like I'm not dealing with reality. I'm dealing with some
sub-genre where everybody knows — it's almost like a Japanese Noh play. I
feel like I know what's going to happen. Okay,
even if on some level I don't know exactly, this is going to happen, that is
going to happen and it's going to have the sixth sense snapper at the end. A
lot of times they don't feel like the work of grownups. They feel like the
work of people who are still just learning the telling a more textured
How much do you
reference the Bible for the stuff spouted by the Marcia Gay Harden character
and how much did you utilize in explaining her character?
I just drew on my childhood, man, just drew on my childhood.
she someone you had met before or knew?
No, she really wasn't anybody that I met or knew. But I had church on
Sunday, Bible school every Thursday night, and heard all the stories about
what was going to happen if you told lies, or masturbated, or this or that,
and the awful things were going to happen. They all had scripture from the
Bible to back it up. Around the same time, my childhood friend Chris and I
fell in love with this guy Jack Van Impe, who is this televangelist. He's
one of the early televangelists. He knew all about the international
conspiracy, and according to him, the apocalypse was coming so you had to be
ready, and all this other stuff. I just loved his delivery and I mocked it.
It's comedy, but the mystery comedies of the world are out there.
Yeah, hell yes, and it's not necessarily a religious thing, it's political.
It's what I'm finding wonderful and fascinating about watching this movie
with an audience that people really get to hate her. I'm thinking, does
this even supersede what the story provides? I think maybe it does. I think
what's happening is, people are sick to death of extremists, they're sick of
the manipulation of extremists, of whatever path, whatever weapon they use,
whether its religion or politics, or hijackings, or whatever. I think most
of us want to be reasonable. Extremists are screwing it up for the rest of
us. That's why we are getting such a strong reaction to this movie.
I have nothing against religion, in spite of my upbringing. But what happens
is, religion cross-pollinates with politics. If you've seen The Mist,
you know that in some ways there are political parties that develop in the
course of this thing. These political parties will spontaneously develop,
which is what happens any time there is a crisis situation. The one thing
that The Mist adds — it adds religion to an already volatile mix. If
that causes you to think about the current world situation, well, then it
does. But I'm not prepared to say one way or another.
Frank, do you get the
creeps when you start reading some of Stephen's work?
I get the creeps every time I read his work. But the creeps is only part of
the journey he takes me on. I find his storytelling so satisfying because it
has enormous depth as well as the surface texture of the creepy stuff, which
I certainly dig. But I love him for that.
When you started
writing, Stephen, did you think you would get so successful to have
Oscar-winning actors such as Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks and Morgan Freeman,
performing in your movies?
No, I could have never imagined it and I never did. The only thing that I
wanted was to support myself and my family without teaching school, by doing
what I love and what I know how to do, which is telling stories. The rest of
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