Stephen King’s novels have been adapted into dozens of films and television series, but not all have been success stories. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, King broke down the ingredients that make for a winning Stephen King adaptation and claimed that it’s the storytellers who deviate from the source material but stay true to the essence of his stories that end up with the best success. The author also shared the connective tissue that runs through the best King adaptations: “The characters seem true to me. They seem like they’re doing things I would do in those situations.”
King proved his point by singling out CBS’ three-season adaptation of “Under the Dome” as an example of the wrong way to adapt his work, explaining, “‘Under the Dome’ was one I felt like went entirely off the rails because the people are doing things that don’t seem realistic. One thing that killed me was you never hear the sound of a generator anywhere. The electric power is fine. Everything looks clean. Everything is great, except that they’re cut off from the world. And that isn’t what would happen…If you ask people to accept those ideas, there has to be a sense of realism that goes with it, that pulls you along.”
Coming up next in the world of King adaptations is “Lisey’s Story,” which is set up at Apple from executive producer J.J. Abrams and “Jackie” and “Neruda” director Pablo Larraín. The cast includes Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Joan Allen, Dane DeHaan, Sung Kang, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. King told The Post that Larraín is bringing enough new ideas to the table to make him the perfect collaborator for a King adaptation.
“He’s got a lot of ideas that don’t depart from the through line of the story but are beautiful visual things, with a lot of energy involved,” King said of Larraín. “It’s like having more depth perception, because I’m like one eye and he’s the other eye.”
King continued, “If you’re going to really succeed in this business, get people you know are talented and then say, ‘Okay, I’m going to step back. I’m not going to be looking over your shoulder and fiddling in your stuff. Go ahead and do the stuff you’re good at doing.'”
Head over to The Washington Post’s website to read King’s latest interview in its entirety.