NEW YORK CITY–If writer-director Frank Darabont hadn't decided to work with Stephen King, it's possible that critics would still be talking about Rob Reiner's Stand By Me, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, and Brian De Palma's Carrie when discussing King's contribution to film history. In recent years, many King adaptations have made it to theatres and television screens, but only Darabont's The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption are considered to be memorable productions.
Of course, Darabont has also done well by King. He received Oscar nominations for writing both films and a best-picture nomination for coproducing The Green Mile. Their latest collaboration is the film version of King's novella The Mist, which opens on November 23. Darabont says, during an interview in a New York hotel, that it's possible most of the filmmakers who have adapted King's novels were not particularly passionate about the work.
"I presume that a lot of these films have been made by people who were just seeking a gig," he says. "I seek these films out because I love his voice as an author and I try to do right by him. I am driven to make these movies by the passion of the stories that he has told, so I try to focus on the things that make the story great. We were on the phone having a conversation a few years after Shawshank and he said, 'Frank, I have a story. I know you don't want to make another prison movie, but I would like to tell you about this idea I have.' And he pitched me The Green Mile. My response was, 'Yeah, I probably don't want to make another prison movie. But if you ever write this, let me get first crack at it because it sounds amazing.' Later, he sent me the first of six volumes of manuscript and I committed to it right away because I felt he was on to something."
King had talked to Darabont about The Mist in the mid-1990s after they had wrapped up The Shawshank Redemption. But Darabont saw the story–which features a town terrorized by a strange mist that comes off the local lake–as a more traditional horror film and wasn't sure that he wanted to take his career in that direction. It took 10 years, but he finally gave in to King's tenacity.
"It wasn't that long ago that if you said horror films people would say, 'Oh, you mean slasher films.' And now people say, 'Oh, you mean torture films?' I feel that there is so much more to the genre, so I hate these trends that narrow the perception of what a genre can be. So I knew if I was going to be involved, it would have to be an honourable horror film, one that would be original and had greater reason for existing than just an immediate effect. It took me a while to feel comfortable about taking it on, but Stephen was very supportive and I think we made a film that is somewhat original and interesting and, hopefully, memorable."
Link: The Mist official site