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Pablo Larraín Stayed in Stephen King’s House to Prepare for ‘Lisey’s Story’

While there, the director would go over the scripts with the author — and try to understand what King wanted that wasn't confined to the page.

Pablo Larrain and Stephen King

Pablo Larrain and Stephen King


Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín comes from the world of cinema, as he says. So doing an eight-hour episodic television show was a challenge he had to prepare for, and the finished result is the Stephen King adaptation of “Lisey’s Story.” Julianne Moore plays the title character, a widow who believes she’s being stalked by a man who worshipped her author husband, played by Clive Owen.

“Stephen King is someone who’s been able to understand our humanity in a very universal ways,” said Larraín in a new behind-the-scenes featurette released by Apple. Because King is such a cultural force, Larraín traveled to Maine, where King lives, and stayed in the author’s house. There, the director would go over the scripts and try to understand what King was really looking for that maybe wasn’t confined to the page.

“I, personally, struggled at the beginning,” said Larraín. “I wanted to take everything to a more grounded sort of space, where the narrative was more naturalistic or realistic. And he [King] was like, ‘No, you have to come to my world where all the things happen to the characters.” That meant having them travel to different worlds and different realities. Larraín decided to just embrace the narrative, which he saw as mimicking Lisey’s journey.

Larraín loved being able to craft certain layers based on a character’s fragmented memory. “Memories combine and mix with fantasy,” he said. “And that fantasy goes into the real world, and vice versa.” Embracing the fantasy and psychological horror in a way that contained poetry and beauty appealed to him.

In his review of the series, IndieWire’s Steve Greene certainly noticed the interplay between fantasy and reality to create the lyricism that Larraín hints at. Greene said, “The show is meticulously hinting at a tranquil world beyond memory. It’s rendered in stark blues and oranges, complete with marbleized faces and onlookers both rapt and wrapped. What it all means isn’t abundantly clear, but the longer ‘Lisey’s Story’ goes, the more it succeeds as a sensory experience than one governed by logic.”

Watch the full video below.

“Lisey’s Story” is streaming now on Apple TV+

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