12:21 pm EST, July 21, 2018

SDCC: ‘Castle Rock’ cast and creators discuss working in the Stephen King multiverse

By Kendra Cleary | Edited by Stefanie Lis

The cast and creators of Hulu’s new series based on the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock, premiered its first episode at SDCC.

Series creators Dustin Thomason and Sam Shaw, along with stars Bill Skarsgård, Sissy Spacek, Melanie Lynskey and Jane Levy attended Comic-Con to premiere the pilot episode and to promote their very creepy new show, which looks fantastic!

A big point of discussion throughout the day was what it’s like creating an original story in Stephen King’s world. Dustin Thomason beautifully said, “We’re writing this song in the key of Stephen King.” They’re definitely telling an original story, but “there are a lot of Easter Eggs and cross references at every level in this first season,” Shaw said.

Related: Castle Rock review: A gripping new thriller for Stephen King fans and newbies alike

J.J. Abrams has been described as the “overlord” of the project, which is interesting since his “mystery box” style storytelling is very different from King’s own brand. On combining the two, the creators said, “We tried to chart a course which, in some ways, is driven by mysteries and also to answer some questions earlier than the audience expects.” King “is a writer who returns to the scene of the crime,” Shaw said.

Here are all the other exciting tidbits we learned from Castle Rock’s SDCC appearance. If you haven’t seen the trailer for Castle Rock, check it out here. The first three episodes of the series will be released on Hulu on July 25!

castle rock, sdcc 2018

  • The series creators described season 1 as a “mystery that unfolds over the course of 10 episodes.”
  • The story “begins with a spectacular death and the discovery of an extra prisoner in the depths of Shawshank prison.” After seeing the pilot, we can tell you that the death is a suicide and the discovery of the extra prisoner takes place in an abandoned wing of the prison. Bill Skarsgård plays the “extra prisoner,” and spoiler alert, his performance is the creepiest thing you’ll see all summer.
  • The discovery of the prisoner leads to Henry Deaver, a local legend in Castle Rock because of something very mysterious that occurred in his childhood, coming back to town to act as his attorney.
  • Stephen King wasn’t at the panel, but Thomason and Shaw assured us that he was definitely involved in the process of making Castle Rock. “We would never have done the show without his full blessing. Every choice that we made, every character of his that we used, the story that we are using in our first season, he was involved in approving,” Thomason said.

Castle Rock Trailer

  • Wondering just how scary Castle Rock will be? Well, Thomason said that it will “deliver on the psychological suspense and the creepiness and, at times, the grab-you-by-the-throat scares.” Skarsgård, who has played in King’s world before as Pennywise in last summer’s It, also pointed out that it will be a very different kind of scary than It, but will terrify you all the same!
  • The first season hasn’t even premiered yet, but the team is already thinking about the future of the show. If the show is renewed for future seasons, it looks like it could happen in an anthology style, similar to American Horror Story, looking at different characters and themes from Stephen King’s multiverse in each season. “The anthology format is really well suited to a Stephen King show,” Thomason claimed.
  • It’s likely that we’ll have some supernatural and paranormal elements to look forward to in the first season of Castle Rock. While nothing in the pilot was overtly paranormal, Shaw shared that “the story gets progressively weirder and more disturbing as it goes.”

  • It looks like we’ll get to see some great female characters in Castle Rock! Melanie Lynskey, Jane Levy, and Sissy Spacek all described their characters for us at SDCC. Here’s what you can expect from them:

    -Melanie Lynskey plays Molly Strand, a real estate agent in the town of Castle Rock, which is not the most lucrative career path. “Nobody wants to live there,” Melanie confessed. “She’s kind of chosen this job as a way of making amends to the town. She has a very complicated history and feels this deep responsibility to make things better for everyone.” The pilot features Melanie visiting the high school to hit up her teenage drug dealer, so we’re guessing she’ll be a very interesting character to follow. A younger version of Molly Strand is also involved in the story, so we should get to see some flashbacks of why she feels the way she does.

    -Jane Levy plays Jackie, who’s “the town taxi driver and the town snoop and a self-proclaimed historian.” Jackie has a fascination with the macabre past of Castle Rock, and laments the fact that nothing has ever happened during her lifetime…until the beginning of the Castle Rock series. Levy addressed the SDCC audience by saying, “She’s you guys! She’s a fangirl herself.”

    -Sissy Spacek plays Henry Deaver’s adoptive mother, Ruth. When asked about her character, Spacek proclaimed, “Oh, I love Ruth Deaver! She loves her home, loves her family.” Unfortunately, she’s also suffering from dementia, but her fading memories could help the characters unravel the mysteries of the season. Thomason praised Spacek’s commitment, saying, “Sissy helped us understand the character,” even adding, “She was incredibly instrumental in picking the production design in her own home.”
  • Although there will be tons of Easter Eggs for hardcore Stephen King fans to enjoy, there will also be a lot in Castle Rock for non-King readers. Lynskey assured us that elements from his works are brought in subtly. “It didn’t feel necessary to my understanding of the story.”

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