Benjamin Cavell interview: ‘The Stand’ showrunner

Showrunner, writer, and producer Benjamin Cavell is thrilled to have Stephen King’s blessing for his 2020 Paramount+ adaptation of “The Stand.” Cavell notes that King is known as being “upfront about his feelings about adaptations of his work. He’s pretty upfront about the ones he doesn’t like and also the ones that he does. It’s lovely to be in that category.” The showrunner delves into the challenges of translating King’s apocalyptic epic from page to screen. Watch the exclusive video interview above.

According to Cavell, King proves to be a difficult author to adapt. “So much of the pleasure of his books is in the access he gives you to the internal lives of his characters,” he explains. Once you move that story to a visual medium, a filmmaker must find a way to make all that inner life external.

SEE Jake Braver interview: ‘The Stand’ visual effects

Cavell’s solution is a non-linear structure that begins after a pandemic has wiped out most of Earth’s population. It moves back and forth through time to introduce the audience to characters and scenarios. “We didn’t want to make an audience sit through the world dying,” he says, noting that he came to this conclusion long before coronavirus was on anyone’s lips. That’s because “The Stand” is really about “what comes after,” according to Cavell. “This elemental struggle for the soul of what remains.” The script asks viewers how they would tackle rebuilding society, what would be most important if humanity had to reset, and what do individuals owe to one another. “Those questions have become so much more relevant than when King first wrote the book,” he states.

The limited series also had to stake its own unique claim on the infamous villain Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard). “The characterization of Flagg has sparked so many imitations in the years since,” explains Cavell. King’s demon appears outwardly handsome and charismatic. Cavell believes this version of the character stands out in large thanks to Skarsgard’s “choice to play against the flamboyance,” opting for a more still and understated take. Cavell wanted to use this dangerous figure as a way to find “the genuine appeal of some of these charismatic, authoritarian strongmen who have been on the ascendancy.”

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UPLOADED May 22, 2021 2:43 pm