The Manchester, UK, terror attack this past May eerily mirrored a similar event in Stephen King’s novel “Mr. Mercedes.” Producers behind Audience Network’s upcoming adaptation of the novel confirmed that they changed that central event for the series, in a way that won’t be revealed here.
At Tuesday’s Television Critics Association press tour panel for the series, director Jack Bender said that the show’s choice to change that framework was decided early on and was a “better way to make it a potentially more catastrophic event.”
On May 22, a young male suicide bomber walked into the foyer of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena and detonated a nail bomb that he had strapped to himself, killing 22 people (one child as young as 8 years old) and injuring 250. In the novel “Mr. Mercedes,” the killer Brady Hartsfield, who is being pursued by detective Bill Hodges, also straps a nail bomb to himself and attends a boy band concert to carry out his attack.
Despite the ongoing prevalence of terror attacks, Bender said the series will not shy away from showing the dark or disturbing aspects of such events because it had a responsibility to show how such monsters affect people and “how lives are destroyed by one heinous act.” “Mr. Mercedes” will just “put the audience in that horror and not try to walk the tightrope.”
Brendan Gleeson, who plays Det. Hodges in the series, said he signed on because it wasn’t King’s usual horror. “I’m not particularly interested in the supernatural as a source of terror,” he said. “What’s amazing about this is that it’s about the beast within. They’re all haunted, but haunted in a very human way.”
“Penny Dreadful” actor Harry Treadaway, who took over the role of the psychopath Brady from the late Anton Yelchin, said that it was “the creepiest character that I’ve done in a very long time.” He did a two-month crash course in psychopathy in which he had to withhold judgment in order to understand the roots of the mindset.
Treadaway also watched three TV programs in order to learn how to not have empathy: UFC, “Shark Tank” and Fox News.
If “Mr. Mercedes” does well, Bender confirmed that the plan would be to proceed with the other two books in King’s series, “Finders Keepers” and “End of Watch.”
David E. Kelley wrote and adapted the 10-episode series, which will premiere on Wednesday, Aug. 9 at 8 p.m. ET on Audience Network. Watch the official trailer for the series below: