It’s been four decades since Sissy Spacek first inhabited the world of Stephen King. Now she’s returned, though she’s bringing less blood with her…at least so far. Best known for her portrayal of Carrie White in Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976), Spacek easily settles back into small-town horror as the dementia addled Ruth Deaver in Hulu’s Castle Rock.
Spacek is one of a handful of the series’ performers to have ties to previous King adaptations, including: Bill Skarsgård (IT), Chosen Jacobs (IT), Terry O’Quinn (Silver Bullet), and Melanie Lynskey (Rose Red). Castle Rock has proved so far its ability to craft a story that relies on more than perceived stunt casting and Easter eggs, and Spacek’s character may just be the key that ties the whole thing together.
Vulture recently interviewed the Oscar-winning screen legend, who shared insights on her prestigious career and her role as Ruth Deaver.
Spacek’s position as the series’ matron not only extends to her role as Ruth, mother of the show’s lead Henry Deaver (Andre Holland), but also her role as the titular character in the very first King adaptation. While Castle Rock has yet to make any direct connection to Carrie, the specter of that film and character looms over the series, leading many a viewer to find connections between Ruth Deaver and Carrie White. Sissy Spacek finally get the spotlight in today’s release of Castle Rock episode 7, aptly titled “The Queen.” Spacek tells Vulture that this most recent episode is the one she’s been waiting for all season, “the carrot that they dangled.”
"It was the character of Ruth Deaver that intrigued me. They said that she’s living a horror within a horror," she told Vulture. "How does the real, true horror of what’s happening to her mind compare to the horror that’s happening in the town of Castle Rock? That was the thing that made me want to do it."
Memory may be the most important facet of Castle Rock. It’s the thing that shapes the town’s perception, allows secrets to be buried, and later uncovered with horrific results. Memory is what gives the slow-burning series a sense of urgency. It’s thematically fitting then that Ruth Deaver is unable to trust her memory. In order to get inside the headspace of a woman suffering from dementia, Spacek tells Vulture that she read Memory’s Last Breath by Gerda Saunders.
This internal and external horror is reminiscent of Carrie White, who of course faced the social pressures of an overbearing mother and ruthless school bullies, a role that Spacek cites as one that is still part of her. Undoubtedly King has left a major impact on her career. On subject of the famed horror author, Spacek tells Vulture “We know him. We feel safe with him, even though he scares us.”