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SYFY WIRE Castle Rock

Season 2 of Castle Rock mashes up King classics Misery and 'Salem's Lot

By Don Kaye
Lizzy Caplan Castle Rock

When the second season of Castle Rock premieres in nine days on Hulu, fans of Stephen King and the universe he's created in his books will get a literal plethora of references to a number of his most popular creations. 

In addition to main lead Annie Wilkes from Misery (played by Lizzy Caplan) and other characters from his books, Castle Rock will also venture beyond the titular burg to visit another of King's most haunted rural havens: the little town of Jerusalem's Lot, aka 'Salem's Lot, which was so terrifyingly overrun by vampires in King's second published novel of the same name.

Not only will the Easter-egg-filled show visit 'Salem's Lot, it will also apparently spend some time at that town's evil Marsten House. Speaking on the red carpet with SYFY WIRE at the premiere of Castle Rock in West Hollywood Monday night (Oct. 14), the show's co-creator Dustin Thomason hints at more King-inspired secrets inside those malevolent walls. 

"One of the things, when you think about 'Salem's Lot, it's sort of inextricable in the King canon from the Marsten House," teases Thomason. "So we're definitely going to find our way there, and as we know about the Marsten House, a lot of terrible things have happened there and a lot of different, terrible creatures have found their way there. So I'm excited to see which ones pop up this year."

Bringing two of King's most beloved stories — 'Salem's Lot and Misery — together under one narrative roof is ambitious enough as it is, but so is having any actress take on the formidable challenge of recreating the role of the disturbed, murderous Annie Wilkes, for which Kathy Bates won an Oscar nearly three decades ago. 

"It's very harrowing to do so, and I think that when Stephen created her, she clearly came out of a very personal place for him," says Thomason about rebooting Annie for Castle Rock. "She was a sign of his addictions; she was a sign of his fans who he was worried were starting to control him in certain ways. So she became this sort of iconic character that we all know and hate and love, and it was hard to think about how to approach that. 

"But at the same time, I think that part of what I loved is the idea that in Misery, we only see it from Paul Sheldon's side," continues Thomason. "We don't get to see it from Annie's side, and we don't get to see what sort of made her what she is. That was a really exciting prospect, to explore how that woman got to that place, and to sympathize with her and try to get underneath the skin of what makes her tick."

For Lizzy Caplan, playing Annie was more about leaning into Kathy Bates' iconic portrayal than trying to stay away from it. "One of the most amazing things about Stephen King books is that the films sort of mean as much to his fans as the books," Caplan tells SYFY WIRE. "Especially on Castle Rock, they really marry those two things — the things we know from the films and the things we know from the books. So I personally, if I were a viewer of the new Annie Wilkes story, I would feel ripped off if it didn't have even a couple of shades of what Kathy Bates did so perfectly."

Caplan adds, "I know I really can't touch anything that exceptional woman does, but to me that is Annie. That is the only sort of way to think about her. When I re-read the book, I could hear her in my they're just one and the same at this point."

Castle Rock's second season, which also stars Tim Robbins, Paul Sparks, Elsie Fisher, Barkhad Abdi, premieres on Hulu on Oct. 23.