Castle Rock Hulu

Hulu's Castle Rock was originally envisioned as a Stephen King knockoff before he gave his blessing

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Jun 8, 2018

Hulu's Castle Rock drops next month and will be set in the fictional Maine town, where a lot of weird stuff happens to go down in the works of horror writer Stephen King. That being said, the upcoming series was almost not associated with King, as creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason originally envisioned it as something that would be heavily inspired by the author, but use none of his intellectual property. 

During an interview with Variety, Shaw and Thomason recounted how they came up with the idea for a “kind of generic, off-brand Castle Rock." In terms of characters, they wanted to explore the lives of people after they'd been set upon by classic King foils like "demonic dogs and serial murderers." 

The main reason for knocking off one of the greatest writers of all time was that they genuinely believed they'd never get the rights to his work, as this wasn't just purchasing the rights to one story, it was purchasing the rights to several of them. Indeed, Castle Rock is connected to such recognizable publications as Needful Things, CujoRita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and The Dark Half. As such, the creators must have felt like a deadbeat boyfriend asking an uptight, conservative father to marry his daughter. 

"Stephen was sort of, for us, Charlie in Charlie’s Angels. He was sort of the crucial figure who loomed from afar,” Shaw said. “Castle Rock is an important town in the Stephen King library, so it was crucial — we needed and wanted to have his blessing.”

Things really started moving forward when J.J. Abrams, Bad Robot, and Warner Brothers arrived as producing partners. Having powerful filmmakers and studios behind you certainly provides a persuasive edge. Of course, they had nothing to worry about, because King gave his seal of approval to Abrams, who then passed on the good news to Shaw and Thomason. 

Get ready for a visit to Castle Rock when the first season premieres on Hulu July 25. Carrie and It actors Sissy Spacek and Bill Skarsgård make up the cast, which also stars Scott Glenn (Daredevil), Jane Levy (Don't Breathe), Terry O'Quinn (Lost), André Holland (American Horror Story: Roanoke), and Melanie Lynskey (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World). 

Can you even imagine what a generic version of Stephen King would look/sound like? Here are a few examples: "Quarter-Foolish, the Sitting Circus Employee"; "The Large Structure Obscured in Shadow"; and "Spleens in Shangri-La." Yeah, let's just be glad they ended up getting those rights.