News

Making Castle Rock Requires a Ph.D. in Stephen King, Say Cast and Showrunner

Bill Skarsgård, Jane Levy, and series creator Sam Shaw share details with eager fans at San Diego Comic-Con.

by | July 20, 2018 | Comments

For four decades, master of horror Stephen King has been terrifying audiences with his written word and with the countless adaptations of his works that have hit big and small screens. Now, Hulu is putting their own spin on the formula, by bringing a new look at the author’s creepy universe with new original series, Castle Rock (Certified Fresh at 85% on the Tomatometer). Ahead of its premiere, Rotten Tomatoes got the chance to sit down with the show’s cast and creatives at San Diego Comic-Con to get insight into the new King–inspired series.


Castle Rock -- "Severance" -- Episode 101 -- Henry Deaver, a death-row attorney, confronts his dark past when an anonymous call lures him back to his hometown of Castle Rock, Maine. Henry Deaver (Andre Holland), shown. (Photo by: Patrick Harbron/Hulu)

Castle Rock follows lawyer Henry Deaver (André Holland) as he returns to his childhood town to investigate a sinister discovery and ends up facing personal demons from his past. The story features a theme we’ve seen time and again in King adaptations, which have become quite commonplace, but it’s easy to forget just how wide his genre reach actually is. And while Castle Rock is immersed in the iconic realm he created, it was a challenge to make the series feel original while also staying true to the characters and stories that have previously taken place in the fictional Maine town.

“We had to have a sort of graduate-level seminar on the works of Stephen King in the writers’ room,” explained show creator Sam Shaw (Manhattan). “For one thing, the library is so huge! There was no possibility that any of us were going to be able to sit down and read all of those books, so we had to sort of divide and conquer.”


Drawing from King’s Castle Rock–specific books not only helped paint a bigger picture of the town for the Hulu series, it also fleshed out an iconic character unseen on-screen since the early ’90s: Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn) — previously played by Ed Harris in Needful Things and Michael Rooker in The Dark Half. According to Shaw, there was a valid concern over revisiting this character in 2018.

“We are coming back to Alan Pangborn 30 years later,” the showrunner explained. “It was important for us to know that Stephen King was comfortable with us telling the postscript to the Alan Pangborn stories that had already been written.”

Aside from bringing Pangborn back for another go-round, fans should expect a series filled with King references — from lesser known short stories to the epic novels we all love. According to Shaw, there will be a plethora of “deep cuts” for “Ph.D.-level fans” to seek out. But as it’s been teased throughout multiple show trailers, the first season of Castle Rock will bring audiences back into the cold, haunted walls of Shawshank Prison.

“So it’s a prison story and there’s Shawshank … and that’s obviously going to be gratifying and mean something to somebody who’s a fan of that movie,” Shaw teased.


Bill Skarsgård (It), whose character is found in a cage underground, struggled a bit with the location.

“Initially, going into it, it was really important that he has been in isolation for a really long time,” Skarsgård explained. “So, you know, researching what solitary confinement does to one’s psyche, trying to imagine what it would’ve been like to have been in there for that long and how strange and terrifying it would be to interact with people again after being there.”

Skarsgård’s role in the series is shrouded in secrecy, but his appearance sets off a chain of events that brings Henry — the main character in the story — back to his childhood town.


Castle Rock -- "Severance" -- Episode 101 -- Henry Deaver, a death-row attorney, confronts his dark past when an anonymous call lures him back to his hometown of Castle Rock, Maine. Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) and Ruth Deaver (Sissy Spacek), shown. (Photo by: Patrick Harbron/Hulu)

Another King alumni plays Ruth, Henry’s adoptive mother: the original Carrie, Sissy Spacek. These heavy hitters help to add a grounded feel to the story, which gives a closer look at the unnerving underbelly of small-town America, a place King thrives in.

Referencing his own deep passion for Twin Peaks — another series exploring one town’s quirky dark side — Shaw acknowledged his fascination with the demons that lurk behind picket fences.

“To a certain extent, we’ve always sort of been obsessed with stories on the dysfunction of small towns,” Shaw said. “But Twin Peaks has such a specific landscape that is so steeped in David Lynch’s sense of the Northwest. Part of what I think we always loved as readers of Stephen King was how specific his anthropology of New England and Maine was.”


Castle Rock -- "Severance" -- Episode 101 -- Henry Deaver, a death-row attorney, confronts his dark past when an anonymous call lures him back to his hometown of Castle Rock, Maine. Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) and Jackie (Jane Levy), shown. (Photo by: Patrick Harbron/Hulu)

Jane Levy, who plays a character named Jackie Torrance — which she would neither confirm nor deny is connected to King’s The Shining — took Shaw’s sentiments one step further: “When you’re in a small space and there’s generational history, there’s neighbors that know each other’s’ good stuff and bad stuff. That’s really juicy grounds for drama […], and it’s also such a scary idea to think the town itself might be the villain.”

The series also stars Melanie Lynskey, Noel Fisher, and Terry O’Quinn.

Castle Rock premieres Wednesday, July 25, with three episodes on Hulu.

Tag Cloud

cars rotten movies we love Apple TV Plus The Arrangement reviews nfl satire Year in Review 2016 WGN rt archives universal monsters Mary Tyler Moore cancelled TV shows sequels cinemax Mindy Kaling Marathons Certified Fresh toy story dogs Adult Swim Red Carpet stand-up comedy independent singing competition worst movies APB Horror 20th Century Fox japanese Rocky deadpool Emmy Nominations TIFF french PBS Biopics science fiction BBC cancelled TV series disaster Winners Creative Arts Emmys remakes DC Comics Peacock dark all-time true crime period drama comedies serial killer comics hispanic Brie Larson cops justice league indiana jones Lifetime football scorecard Hear Us Out The Purge PaleyFest cults Song of Ice and Fire WarnerMedia FX on Hulu Election TV Avengers TCA Winter 2020 LGBT series Comics on TV films Fox Searchlight black Superheroes Walt Disney Pictures Pop stop motion theme song ABC Family werewolf 4/20 james bond mockumentary Emmys CMT Shondaland screenings politics ghosts Black Mirror dragons Warner Bros. crime tv talk Dark Horse Comics 45 Character Guide RT History Photos cooking documentary Tomatazos President 71st Emmy Awards Sci-Fi zombie Hallmark psychological thriller Acorn TV chucky Disney+ Disney Plus concert scary movies doctor who Thanksgiving Amazon Prime VICE Awards Rocketman 2015 slashers CNN crime drama joker Turner Classic Movies ID TV renewals blaxploitation Nat Geo San Diego Comic-Con space richard e. Grant Kids & Family Columbia Pictures Country Rock laika Captain marvel 2018 best Countdown Shudder YouTube Television Academy MTV BBC America cartoon CW Seed Food Network miniseries CBS Discovery Channel archives Pixar Watching Series AMC Podcast mutant game of thrones 2020 Pop TV jamie lee curtis Marvel Studios Pirates Interview IFC Trivia MSNBC versus CBS All Access Super Bowl quibi Sundance Now Lucasfilm game show BET Awards HBO Max Universal ABC cancelled Epix BBC One biography Tarantino aliens award winner screen actors guild Comedy Central Sundance TV HBO Action revenge Ghostbusters animated 24 frames Chernobyl El Rey book hollywood medical drama Vudu Western TCA Awards Oscars Opinion Syfy finale TLC sag awards Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Binge Guide TCA 2017 halloween tv Polls and Games Amazon Prime Video psycho GLAAD Writers Guild of America Animation TCA Heroines Fox News Video Games Holidays travel child's play dc 21st Century Fox docudrama First Reviews mission: impossible The Academy social media Film Festival transformers Funimation nbcuniversal ITV Star Wars movie TCM Nominations foreign The Witch kids comic LGBTQ Paramount Travel Channel Summer Arrowverse Box Office A24 news Marvel Showtime Cosplay golden globes Ovation free movies Cannes Reality die hard GIFs Drama Winter TV Awards Tour breaking bad OWN television asian-american spider-man Music Paramount Network Disney USA Network Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Disney Plus Martial Arts Classic Film venice Fall TV Hulu adaptation ESPN robots YouTube Premium unscripted sitcom 2017 crime thriller FXX strong female leads romance teaser Ellie Kemper reboot latino batman Calendar DC streaming service American Society of Cinematographers harry potter streaming Amazon Infographic comic books FOX VOD Tubi Valentine's Day emmy awards Freeform based on movie fast and furious Black History Month DGA E! anthology OneApp Hallmark Christmas movies 007 TV Land Pet Sematary supernatural festivals SundanceTV Superheroe Stephen King what to watch YA diversity canceled criterion stoner movies TBS Family TruTV Comic Book technology dramedy discovery Crunchyroll Spring TV facebook spy thriller See It Skip It critics Mudbound HBO Go green book christmas movies Baby Yoda Trailer Best and Worst nature documentaries VH1 spinoff Teen casting Disney Channel SXSW Extras Amazon Studios Christmas thriller Sundance Women's History Month Lionsgate superhero anime Toys Premiere Dates spanish language Mystery natural history Apple TV+ cats Television Critics Association crossover zombies ratings Nickelodeon History BAFTA The CW Masterpiece Comedy GoT 72 Emmy Awards 2019 directors Netflix Christmas movies south america vampires talk show classics hist binge Set visit Esquire australia Endgame New York Comic Con war historical drama canceled TV shows Turner composers Film political drama USA rotten video on demand children's TV obituary Britbox Anna Paquin TNT NYCC sequel Elton John Reality Competition toronto festival worst YouTube Red elevated horror Pride Month Crackle dceu witnail First Look name the review Mary Poppins Returns zero dark thirty SDCC video A&E Spectrum Originals Rom-Com halloween indie comiccon spanish Holiday Grammys FX Trophy Talk Bravo Tumblr NBC Netflix RT21 National Geographic romantic comedy police drama Musical MCU Lifetime Christmas movies franchise parents boxoffice italian Star Trek adventure Disney streaming service Spike Musicals a nightmare on elm street DirecTV Starz Apple Sneak Peek cancelled television IFC Films Mary poppins DC Universe E3 PlayStation blockbuster The Walking Dead Sony Pictures renewed TV shows Schedule Cartoon Network X-Men spain BET Marvel Television Fantasy twilight sports Academy Awards Logo Quiz