Stephen King’s novel The Stand is frequently regarded as one of the iconic author’s best works. It’s got all of the works of an epic narrative: crumbling society, dystopia, terrifying evils, relatable altruists, and folk song lyrics. Surprisingly, the film has not been adapted into the big-screen epic that it seems so well-suited for–but that’s not for a lack of trying. Over the last ten years the film has been rumored to jump from the hands of Harry Potter director David Yates to actor/director/Batman Ben Affleck and now to The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone. The 1,000 page-plus story of The Stand holds a place near and dear to many a fan’s heart, but like any other great “why haven’t they adapted it yet?” work, the story faces the same conflict. What in the hell is the best way to adapt such a massive book with so many characters to establish, places to visit, and sub-plots?
4 hour movie?
Well, I don’t have an answer for you because I’m going to talk about who should play those treasured characters:
Stu Redman is a working-class guy from a small middle-of-nowhere Texas town. Born into an impoverished family, Stu’s lived through a number of injustices and hardships that have endowed him with a fierce fighter’s spirit. However, none of Stu’s past hardships could have prepared him for the apocalyptic viral outbreak that obliterates the state of civilization as he knows it. Through his journey in the book, Stu goes from being a reserved loner of sorts to an impassioned leader for God’s chosen army. For a character like Stu, you need an older actor can carry a quiet presence of wisdom, and maybe even cynicism at times. After all, Stu’s lived a life devoid of many luxuries or comforts. That said, while Stu is a bit “worn-down” as a result of his upbringing and general circumstances, it’s clear that he’s a resilient guy–the actor should mirror that resilience as well.
But… But Why?
Mr. McConnaughey has impressed all of us as of late. Between Dallas Buyer’s Club, Mud, and True Detective McConnaughey has proven he’s got something to bring to any worthy role. While reading The Stand I couldn’t help but envision a somewhat gaunt looking, rugged man. The type of character you’d envision at one of those giant-sized gas stations for truckers. The type of guy that one could naively write off because they’d seem more well-placed behind a booth at a Waffle House than in an office board room. We all sold McConnaughey short because we had pegged him as simple romantic-comedy fodder prior to the wonderful McConaissance where Matty McC managed to shock all of us with a brand new bag of tricks we never knew he had. The role that really sealed my pick on this one was his turn as nihilist detective Rust Cohle in True Detective–a character with a quiet intelligence and a not-so-quiet ability to throw down.
Casey Affleck, John Hawkes
Frannie Goldsmith is introduced to the reader as a “girl-next-door” type with a bit of a mischievous streak. It doesn’t take long for the story to emphasize that while Frannie may have some goofy tendencies, she can easily present herself as “no-nonsense” when needed. Frannie is a college-aged girl forced to grow up quickly when the Captain Tripps superflu outbreak throws her world into chaos. Clearly, the ideal actress for this role is a woman who we is well-known as playfully charming, but has equal capacity to bring the jokes to a screeching halt when the circumstance requires controlled focus.
But… But Why?
I know, I know–“playfully charming but serious when needed” probably had you expecting Jennifer Lawrence. Well no. Not this time. Ms. Kendrick has consistently shown her comedic chops and has a clear talent for charming audiences whether it be in her movie roles or just in interviews. However, her time in Up in the Air, Drinking Buddies, and 50/50 show that she can just as easily play strong , no funny-business characters. Something about Anna Kendrick tells me she’d kick ass in a post-apocalyptic setting. I dunno.
Brie Larson, Elizabeth Olsen, Emma Stone
Nick Andros is the best. Just the best. Nick is a 20-something deaf-mute drifter with an unwavering sense of loyalty and determination. Andros is one of the first to quickly lend his assistance to any of those he comes across after the outbreak which leads to his friendship with other fan-favorite, Tom Cullen. Nick displays both a strong intuitive sense due to his impairment, which provides him with an acute ability to judge the characters he comes across in his travels. The actor that portrays Nick should be seen as someone who seems as if they would lay down their life in an instant to protect their fellow man.
But… But Why?
Most of you are probably used to seeing DeHaan play pompous, unsavory types in recent movies. I’ll agree that he’s great at playing those parts–but it was thinking about his roles in The Place Beyond the Pines and Lawless that reminded me how great he is at establishing characters who you want so badly to do better. Andros is a symbol of purity who constantly comes across evil in his journeys, and manages to consistently overcome those oppressive influences. Even in films like Chronicle, a film where he ultimately becomes the bad guy, DeHaan presents his characters with a painful need for companionship–a quality that I think would lend itself well to ever-loyal Nick Andros.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kody Smitt-McPhee, Logan Lerman
Larry Underwood is a newly-popular rock star, thanks to his breakout single “Baby Can You Dig Your Man?”. Predictably, Larry plays into a lot of the expectations you’d have of a newly successful rock star: he’s cocky, his ego is over-inflated, he’s reckless, and selfish. Once the viral outbreak hits and the luxuries of Larry’s musical success melt away Larry starts to show that he’s actually a pretty nice guy. He has an overwhelming urge to take care of those around him–a quality that’s transferred over from his time taking care of his mother. And as you’d expect from any “artist type”, Larry’s a pretty sensitive and caring guy. Even if his pre-Apocalypse lifestyle made him act like kind of a dick.
But… But Why?
Well let’s just get this out of the way. Franco gives off a bit of a douche vibe. I really like Franco! Buy yeah, bit of a douche vibe. He’s also had a bit of a track record playing wild, “free-spirit” characters in the past, whether in 127 Hours or Pineapple Express. It’s really one of Franco’s earliest roles as Daniel Desario in Freaks and Geeks that makes him seem like he’d pull of Larry with perfection. Daniel Desario was immature, selfish, and focused on living a “rock and roll” lifestyle, but he consistently charmed the other characters in the show with his more warm-natured tendencies. That screams “LARRY” to me.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jared Leto, Bradley Cooper
Harold is the opposite of Nick Andros. Harold is the worst. Lauder is a pimply-faced, awkward teenager who lusts after Frannie Goldsmith. He’s overly-sensitive, condescending, and quick-tempered. For a good Harold, you want a younger actor who can play a part with intense emotion–since Harold seems to have no control over his.
But… But Why?
In The Spectacular Now Teller played Sutter Keeley, a character who seemingly had no real self-control over his emotional tendencies, resulting in him hurting the people who are attempting to help him. While his character in Spectacular Now had a considerable amount of positive traits to counter his more volatile aspects–it’ was that performance that convinced me he could play a much more resentful, disdainful version of that character which would result in a great rendition of the awful human being that was Harold Emery Lauder.
Nadine Cross is a former elementary school teacher with a dark and mysterious past. Nadine’s past has her pledged to something sinister, a fate that she hopes to be saved from. Aside from these sinister characteristics, she displays strong maternal aspects as a caretaker for a seemingly feral little boy named Joe.
But… But Why?
Nadine Cross is a character that at first glance seems like that peachy, pretty elementary school teacher we all had at one point. However, as the story goes on, Cross’ layers begin to strip away, and we start to see more disturbing aspects of her character. Portman’s turn in Black Swan seems like the perfect parallel character dynamic to Nadine Cross–as Portman nailed both the fragile, sensitive nature of her character while slowly morphing into a more upsetting, sinister personality by the end of the film.
Emily Blunt, Anne Hatheway, Angelina Jolie
Randall Flagg or “The Dark Man” as he’s often referred to in the book is the main antagonist of The Stand. It’s never specifically stated if he’s the Devil or not in the book–I assumed he was more of a force created by the Devil to carry out his wishes on Earth. Flagg is both a memorable and disturbing in that he’s not only persuasive, but somewhat of a calming presence when he’s introducing himself to other characters in the book. He’s full of charisma and charm and gives off an air similar to that of a great salesman. However, the evil of Randall Flagg is really cemented in the moments in the book where he loses his temper or carries out punishment for disobedience. Flagg’s reputation seems to speak more for him than his actions, creating an unspoken obedient feat among all of his followers. For an ideal Randall Flagg, you would need an actor who has played charming, personable characters in the past–but even more important, they need to have the capacity to create an air of intimidation in a scene without even uttering a single word.
But… But Why?
Guy Pearce has a great ability for playing both extremely charming roles. but also very menacing, slithery, skeevy roles. Just recently, Pearce has played very charismatic, charming types in both Lockout and Iron Man 3 . Even more persuasive for me though, was Pearce’s turn playing Charlie Rakes in Lawless. In Lawless, Pearce turns in a truly villainous performance as a totally unsettling and crooked federal agent–he’s nearly unrecognizable in Lawless when compared to his more dapper appearances in Memento and The King’s Speech. I could see Pearce persauding armies to fall at his feet before having them follow him to Vegas.
Gary Oldman, Christian Bale, Matthew McConnaughey