First Casting for Big Screen Reboot of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ Lets Us Know That It’s Actually Happening This Time
For the longest time, it seemed like the big screen adaptation of The Stand was never going to happen (along with the sprawling Ron Howard/Akiva Goldsman version of The Dark Tower and Cary Fukunaga’s re-telling of It*). First, Ben Affleck was attached to direct a two-part saga, but has since left to be Batman and direct Denny Lehane ditties (the latter of which he just dropped off of as well). Then came Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace helmer Scott Cooper, whose presence made me think that Warner Bros. was going to bring a serious, adult-minded approach to the massive, post-apocalyptic tale. Unfortunately, he left as well, causing me to wonder if the project was out-and-out cursed.
Now comes Josh Boone, an unknown entity who has two YA adaptations (of John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns) slated to come out later this year. And it seems like this choice is finally going to stick, as the first role has been cast, signaling that this version of The Stand might actually be real this time.
Nat Wolff is the first young thespian to lend his talents to the possibly massive picture. You can see him later this month in Gia Coppola’s directorial debut Palo Alto, and then in both of Boone’s John Green films. I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down with any of these movies as of yet, but I’ve heard from those with good taste (and greater access than I) that he’s quite good in Palo Alto.
According to what Wolff told THR, Boone has written a part specifically for the young actor, which has me simultaneously curious and a little worried. Is this a brand new character, completely invented for this iteration of the tale? Or has Boone simply taken one of the novel’s numerous speaking roles and tailored it to Wolff’s talents? I sincerely hope it’s the latter, as The Stand features some of the best character work of King’s career, and it’s a script I very much would hope this filmmaking squad sticks to.
But if it is an existing character, who the hell could Nat Wolff be playing? It certainly isn’t Stu Redman, as he’s too old and Texan (Wolff is only nineteen and born and bred in Los Angeles). Trashcan Man? He seems too pretty (plus why would you be re-write one of the best characters in the book?). Larry Underwood? I suppose that could work, though they’d have to play with age again and maybe make Underwood a teen pop star instead of a burnt out rocker. And Wolff is entirely too good-looking to play Harold Lauder, the stalker-next-door whose crush on Frannie (Molly Ringwald in Mick Garris’ horrid TV miniseries**) turns into a torrid obsession.
Nick Andros, the deaf-mute who finds himself wandering alone after the world has ended (and meets up with Duddits template Tom Cullen), is the right age (early 20s). Plus, he was played by Rob Lowe in the first miniseries…not that this means anything whatsoever (only a fool looks to previous adaptations when making casting speculations).
One thing that’s slightly worrisome is the fact that Warner Bros. has hired a YA director and cast a young, white male as their first lead, making me wonder if they’re going to re-jigger the books in order to be the next “young adult blockbuster”. The success of Twilight, The Hunger Games and now Divergent make me think that this isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility for the studio, who have been looking to get back into the YA game since Harry Potter ended. I just hope they don’t dumb down what is essentially Stephen King’s adult masterwork just so that they can make a play for the “teenage date night” dollar.
*Which, according to a Grantland article from February, apparently is still very much in the works.
**Seriously, I know that there are still fans of this hunk of crap. I loved it as a kid, too. Re-watch it. I just did the other day and had to turn it off after the first half. Garris’ direction is so garish and ugly, evoking performances from otherwise talented actors that feel like they’d be more at home in a high school play.