When Stephen King determined he needed to adapt Lisey’s Story, he had one longtime collaborator in thoughts: J.J. Abrams. That’s how a grasp of the display screen, and the grasp of horror got here collectively to create one thing utterly new… A Stephen King adaptation utterly written by the creator himself, which premieres on Apple TV+ on June 4.
After King was in a critical automobile accident in 1999, he got here house to seek out his belongings piled into packing containers. His spouse, Tabitha King, needed to redecorate King’s studio as a shock. In addition to that present she gave him the inspiration for certainly one of his most emotional and attention-grabbing novels. Lisey’s Story follows the widowed Lisey (performed by Julianne Moore) who continues to be mourning the lack of her husband, well-known creator Scott Landon (performed by Clive Owen). But when Scott’s followers grow to be increasingly more aggressive, Lisey must battle them — and confront the legendary world her husband at all times mentioned along with her, but she by no means believed in.
Lisey’s Story marks the third main collaboration between King and Abrams, after Hulu’s 11.22.63 and Castle Rock. But it’s removed from the duo’s final. Decider spoke to Abrams about why precisely he loves working with King a lot, how he chooses which initiatives to put in writing, produce, and direct, and what’s forward for this inventive duo.
Decider: What drew you to Lisey’s Story?
J.J. Abrams: Stephen King reached out and requested if we might be concerned about producing an adaptation to movie of Lisey’s Story. I used to be clearly thrilled by the prospect, not simply because I’m an enormous fan of his however as a result of I knew how a lot the e book meant to him. So I used to be actually flattered he would ask. And then he mentioned he needed to put in writing all of the episodes, which, frankly, made all of it the higher. And we simply began the method of discovering a director and solid. It was actually the sort of present from Stephen to all of us that he would ask us if we need to get entangled.
That’s unbelievable. What’s it been like collaborating with Stephen King? Because you’re each legends in your respective fields.
Well that’s insanely beneficiant. He positively is a legend. I might say that working with him is at all times, it’s a pleasure in all types of varieties, which is to say there have been initiatives that we’ve accomplished collectively — 11.22.63, Castle Rock, we’re working on one thing else, a pair issues now. It’s at all times an training working with him as a result of his mind works in such a outstanding, multidimensional, and particular approach. Even although I don’t know if any of us will be capable of actually perceive how he does what he does, it’s a marvel to observe shut up, particularly on this one. Because it meant a lot to him, studying the scripts and seeing how he tailored it — he didn’t simply transcribe it — how he tailored the story into one thing that works on display screen, how Pablo Larraín, our wonderful director, was in a position to kind of assist in some instances the place some issues might not have translated fairly as simply, discovering a approach with Stephen to attain the specified impact. It was actually simply an unbelievable expertise. Again, I really feel insanely fortunate to have been part of it.
You talked about that it’s at all times an training working with Stephen King. Can you elaborate about what you realized working with him on Lisey’s Story?
It’s attention-grabbing as a result of the movie is near the novel and but the novel is so inside there have been issues that needed to be externalized. Without getting too particular, I really feel like the way in which he was in a position to have a look at his personal work and figuring out features and components that had been crucial to it and to its telling…
Obviously, what you write and put right into a novel doesn’t at all times work on display screen. So watching him discover methods to try this, to emphasise what was essential to him and to the story after which to see how he and Pablo collectively discovered a approach to carry moments to the display screen that had been, in lots of instances, difficult and interpretable as textual content in a novel. It abruptly must be very particular and really photorealistically depicted. So how to try this, easy methods to carry a spot like Boo’ya Moon to the display screen? When you’re studying a novel everybody sort of sees a barely completely different factor. As superbly descriptive because the e book is and as superbly described because the world is, a novel is at all times going to be in your individual head indirectly. Whether it’s areas, whether or not it’s relationships, and the individuals themselves. How do you carry a personality like Lisey to life? It’s so much more durable than it may appear. Having somebody as good as Julianne Moore painting her allowed this factor to really feel grounded and nonetheless fantastical. I simply really feel like I realized so much. But principally I’d say the method of deciphering the novel into a visible medium was actually a thrill to see.
You’re a really busy man. You write, you produce, you direct. How do you select which initiatives you’re going to do what on?
The initiatives that I find yourself writing are usually issues that received’t go away me alone… It’s virtually like having a child tugging on your coat the place lastly it’s important to say, “What?” If there’s an concept that received’t go away it’s important to interrogate it. The issues that I’ve written I haven’t ever gone into one thing considering, essentially, “This wants to be a movie that looks like this” or “This wants to be a series that feels like that.” Lots of instances it’s nearly attempting to get out of my system the factor that has grow to be one thing of an obsession. So once I’m working on one thing, once I’m writing one thing, I normally don’t have a lot of a alternative. I’ve to lastly take care of it.
When it’s one thing that I’m producing, within the case of one thing like Lisey’s Story, it was Stephen coming to us with this chance that I feel I might have been a idiot to say “no thank you” to. Because of the timing of all of it we knew that we would want to discover a director who was going to have the ability to take all of it on. And Pablo was somebody we had needed to work with for thus lengthy. So once more, this was actually a possibility.
Then by way of directing, usually it’s one thing I find yourself discovering myself compelled to do. In some instances I really feel like, “Oh my god, I was an insane person for saying yes to that.” And different instances I really feel like, if I’ve mentioned no to one thing and I see it get accomplished, I feel, “Oh my god, I’m an insane person for not having done that.” So I by no means fairly know what the appropriate reply is. But we at all times attempt to make our greatest selections second to second. We typically really feel like that was destiny, and different instances we really feel like oh that was an enormous misstep. So you by no means fairly know.
You talked about earlier than that you’ve a pair different initiatives with King that you just’re working on. What, if something, are you able to inform me about Tiny Horrors, your upcoming anthology collection?
I want I might speak about it. It’s certainly one of my favourite issues that we’re working on for lots of causes that I feel will quickly grow to be apparent. It’s one thing that may be very actual and extremely distinctive, and I’m past enthusiastic about that.
We’re working on a collection that’s concerning the Overlook Hotel that’s actually particular and extremely distinctive in its characters and viewpoint. Obviously, working on something with Stephen King is a blast, not simply because his thoughts is so limitlessly good and huge in its focus, which is to say he’s written so many alternative genres, but additionally as a result of he’s such a really, splendidly, pretty human being.
I additionally know that you just’re working on a venture with Jennifer Garner and Apple TV+, My Glory Was That I Had Such Friends. What has it been like working with Apple TV+? Because it looks like you might have a budding partnership with them.
Yes, and there are a pair different issues that we’re additionally doing with them. I’ll say I’m an enormous fan of the individuals at Apple TV+ and I like the expertise to date. Certainly on Lisey’s Story they’ve been unbelievable companions. I really feel like on the finish of the day an enormous firm, an enormous community, it’s going to be the people who find themselves there, who’re calling the pictures, and who you both really feel such as you see eye-to-eye otherwise you don’t. I really feel extremely fortunate working with the parents at Apple as a result of I feel we appear to be seeing issues that excite us all on the similar time in a approach. So I’ve been nothing however glad working with Apple.
This interview has been edited for readability and size.
The first two episodes of Lisey’s Story premieres on Apple TV+ Friday, June 4. New episodes will premiere on Apple TV+ Fridays.