Synopsis : 1976, Brian de Palma directed Carrie, Stephen King’s first novel. Since then, more than 50 directors have adapted the horror master’s books into more than 80 films and series, making him now the most adapted author still alive in the world. What is so charming about him that filmmakers can’t stop adapting his books? The feature documentary THE KING OF THE SCREEN reunites the filmmakers who have adapted Stephen King’s books for film and television. The cast features more than 25 directors, including Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead), Tom Holland (The Langoliers, Chucky), Mick Garris (The Stand, The Sleepwalkers) and Taylor Hackford (Dolores Claiborne, Ray). This is a film made for the fans and with the fans, driven by international ambition.
Original language: English
Director: Daphne Bayvir
Producer: Sebastien Cruz, Jean-Yves Ruben
Exclusive interview with director Daphne Bayvir
Q: There are tons of great movies based on Stephen King’s novels. From his works made into films such as Stand By Me ”The Shining” ”The Shawshank Redemption” ”The Green Mile” ”carry” ”Misery” ”Sematary Pet”  — who made you decide to take on this film?
DB: I’ve always been a huge Stephen King fan since I was born [was] kid. The Green Mile is my favorite movie of all time. I really wanted to look deeper into [various] the director’s point of view because I think it’s interesting since he’s the most adapted author [of all time according to Google].
But we had to be quite balanced. We couldn’t talk about all the movies that were made, so we had to make some choices. We didn’t want to [this] to be an encyclopedic type of film. We had to pick some of the adaptations to talk about [about] little bit more. It was decided in terms of the filmmakers who were involved in it, to use what the filmmakers had to say and how it could be related to the whole story of the documentary.
It was fascinating to talk to these directors who [did] all these adaptations because they are grateful. As you say, “Stand By Me,” “Misery,” “The Green Mile,” “Shawshank”—it’s interesting to go a little deeper into their [creation].
Q: It took Frank Darabont five years to write the script for The Shawshank Redemption. Rob Reiner and Tom Cruise read the script, and although Tom suggested that Rob direct it initially, they ended up giving it to Darabont. He had not previously directed a feature film. Do you think he had a clearer vision for the story so it was given to him rather than bigger names?
DB: King actually gave Frank the Shawshank rights after he saw the first short Darabont made [“The Woman in the Room,” 1984]which was an adaptation of King’s story . Darabont took five years to write the script because he wanted it to be so perfect. It wasn’t until he had written the script that he [wanted] to direct it, although Rob Reiner had interest in doing so.
At the time, Shawshank was Darabont’s first feature film, but he was directing a TV movie [“Buried Alive”, 1990], and wrote many screenplays long before he did Shawshank. He was so sure he was going to do Shawshank because it was something he thought was important to him. When you see that so many years after the movie was made, he talks about that movie with so much passion, you can totally understand why they said, “Yeah, well, do it.” He was the right guy to direct Shawshank, for sure.
Q: King’s wife Tabitha pulled the manuscript of “Carrie” out of the trash, read his stories, and gave him quick, critical feedback. Some say many of the female characters are based on her. Could you talk about King’s relationship with his wife and her influence on his career?
DB: Yeah, that’s something we really wanted to have in the documentary. She had a great influence on his work at every level. She reads every book he writes – she is the first reader. She is the first to review his work and give him feedback. It’s interesting because in many ways his relationship with Tabitha, the fact that he was raised by a single mother, influences the female characters he writes. In his stories, he writes amazing female characters, in my opinion.
Q: It is very well known that Stephen King did not like Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining for a number of reasons. One of the most important was that it was a really personal book for him. Many of the book’s readers initially loathed Kubrick’s works [as well]. What do you think about King making The Shining his own TV series? Was it just for his satisfaction?
DB: You give the rights to a director to adapt your story, which is your baby; it’s a very emotional connection you have with what you create. I think the fact that he wasn’t happy or satisfied with The Shining was his way of somehow fixing something that was—well, the movie took liberties and directions that he wasn’t happy with. You can totally understand his point of view when he talks about the time that there were a lot of things that weren’t right.
Stephen King [truly made] great adaptation of the miniseries “The Shining” because it is really close to the stories. You can totally feel Jack Torrance’s character getting lost in his madness. It’s also a great format to make it into a miniseries because it gives you time to explore the characters and their evolution. In the case of Jack Torrance in the movie, when you have four hours to tell a story, it’s great because you see something of the characters. This is something they managed to do very well in the miniseries.
Q: In 1999, King was hit by a van while walking on [road] — a terrible accident that left him with multiple serious injuries. Still, he managed to make it to the Green Mile premiere during the recovery period.
DB: The Green Mile project was very expensive for him. I don’t want to speak for him because I’m not in the best position to do so, but I think that in some ways the fact that when your story is translated to the screen — especially in the case of The Green Mile, that is. k. was also from Darabont (who was such a good friend of King’s) – [you would] I want to be at the premiere so much.
This is a piece of art that is really dear to King, so it was important for him to attend this premiere. It is amazing to see how he recovered from the accident. After that he went on to work on so many stories.
Q: The relationship between George Romero and Stephen King is fascinating. They worked together to combine humor and horror for ‘Creepshow’ [the horror comedy anthology film, 1982]. What was amazing to you about their collaboration?
DB: Romero and King have a lot in common in terms of their world view and how they saw horror. I think they had the same references because they were quite close and we can feel that in “Creepshow” because it’s really a mix of their two universes. The fact that King himself starred in “Creepshow” [illustrates] how much was their collaboration on this film. At first they wanted to do something else together and finally decided to create something from scratch with “Creepshow”. It’s fascinating, it tells who they are.