02 August 2012

Note to my fellow bloggers/friends/Stephen King fans: Ok. This is just my letter to Ben Affleck who has signed on to direct The Stand. I am a humble fan who doesn't know all of the fantastic actors in Hollywood, so my picks for the characters in Stephen King's The Stand may seem horrendous to you. If they are terrible choices, tell me why (nicely). Do not throw the book at me. However, if you do throw the book at me, please only throw the edited pre-1990 version which is about 400 pages less and won't hurt as much. Thank you.

Image Source
Dear Mr. Affleck,

Kudos to you for taking the reins on remaking The Stand. If you do this right, you could make this Academy-award worthy, knowwhatimsayin? I wouldn't want to be in your shoes, though, because after all, you will have a legion of Stephen King and The Stand fans who will question your eh-ve-ry move. You will have to tread lightly and not kill key moments and also make sure all the special effects are fantastic without allowing them to be crazy over-the-top cheesiness (*coughcoughArmageddoncough*)

Picking the right cast, the dream team, is key. It's a story requiring an ensemble, a crucial conglomeration of a gazillion different Hollywood personalities that you'll have to logistically contend with/manage. Blah. I can't even imagine having to deal with the divas and divos and their attitudes. Ick.

But it's so important to pick the right people. Even I am terrified of posting into the public forums my "dream team" cast for this epic story. I'm certain there are a few picks below that I may need to duck as insults and outrage are hurled at me. So be it. And just as a side note, I realize that the 1994 TV version selected a lot of older actors for crucial roles, but I've chosen younger actors and actresses since I always thought all of the characters were in their twenties or so, with the exception of a few.

But, before we go on, sir, just a few things to make note of:
  1. Music. Don't forget about the music. Please. The TV version was aight and all but it was so melodramatic because there was music in almost every flippin' scene.
  2. Stephen King Gets in the Way of a Good Story. What? Whaddidshesay? There. I said it. I think King is brilliant and created stories and characters that will never be forgotten. He's a genius. Songs will be written about him one day. But. BUT. Don't let him write the screenplay or produce it! As a King fan, I think he's so close to his stories that he can't get out of his own way and the end movie result is never, ever good. He might strongarm you into doing what he wants because he's the master of horror, for cryin' out loud. You're from Boston, so I'm sure you probably have a high respect for the man and don't want to tick him off. But just remember that when he gets his hands really dirty and writes the teleplay or produces it, unfortunately, it usually isn't that fabulous. Stick to your guns and make the film the way you know it will work.
  3. One Film? Or Two? Three? You're going to enrage fans if you put this epic story into just one movie. It's a book with so many important characters and events that if you skinny this baby down to 100 minutes, an overwhelming amount of internet-angst will be unloaded from fans who will point out every.single.thing.you.cut. You don't want that. Split it into at least two films. (Money!) 
Ok. So below are my picks for the cast of The Stand. (Fellow bloggers/readers: Let me know what you think in the comments, but please do not yell at me!) Disclaimer: Obviously, none of these pictures are mine, however I've included the link to the site. Email me if I need to remove the picture or if I have the wrong link.

Mother Abagail: Cicely Tyson
I love Cicely Tyson and think she could be incredible, although part of me was also wondering about Alfre Woodard, since she's amazing as well. Ultimately, I had to go with Cicely Tyson because I think she really embodies the role of Mother Abagail and I think Cicely Tyson could be magical. [Photo]

Randall Flagg: Viggo Mortensen
I can't think of anyone else who could play the hardcase, the Walkin Dude any better. He can pull off the right combination of creepy and sexy, from gentle to frightening (Isn't this a scary picture?). [Photo]

Stu Redman: Ryan Gosling
Stu has to be someone the audience immediately is drawn to, someone easily likable and trustworty. (I tried to pick a very Stu-like picture. East Texas, y'all. Has to be good-looking and self-assured.) [Photo B/W]

Frannie Goldsmith: Maggie Gyllenhaal
If anyone could make me actually like the character of Frannie, and even believe someone as awesome as Stu could love her, and at the same time be so appealing that Harold would also fall madly in love with her, it would be Maggie Gyllenhaal. This actress is equal parts quirky, innocent, and sexy. She could do this role in her sleep. [Photo]

Harold Lauder: Jesse Eisenberg
From Social Network fame as the Facebook founder, Jesse Eisenberg has the youthful look necessary for the character, and could believably evolve into the brooding Harold. Harold, the untrustworthy, and possibly dangerous member of the Free Zone, the one that makes yer skin crawl and all. I think this actor could easily transform from heavyset and pimply Harold Lauder, into the later Harold/Hawk who is still confused, but slimmer. [Photo B/W]

Larry Underwood: Zac Efron
Oh, boy. I know I'm going to get yelled at on this one. Larry is one of the most important characters and I want this guy to do it? Yes. He's all grown up now, folks. (He cut that silly shaggy haircut, too.) You know Zac Efron can sing "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?" and we also know he's a pretty doggone good actor no matter what the script gives him, so why not? I think he could do this character well. [Photo B/W]

Lucy: Zoe Saldana
Known for her stellar performance in the movie Avatar, Zoe Saldana would change it up considerably. She's got to have such a different look than Nadine Cross and while she is a little older than Zac Efron, I think there would be awesome chemistry between them. She is so incredibly unique and beautiful and has to hold her own against the incomparable Nadine. The audience has to feel and see that difference without question. The character of Lucy was thoroughly under-appreciated in the TV movie and I hope that Ben Affleck will remember that Lucy is such an important character in keeping Larry on the good side. [Photo B/W]

Nadine Cross: Marion Cottilard
This beautiful French actress would knock it out of the park. There are rumors Ben Affleck is considering Jennifer Lopez for the role and that his wife, Jennifer Garner, is understandably annoyed. I hope he doesn't pick J. Lo, much as I like her, because I just don't see her in this role at all. I want someone different and think Marion Cottilard would be great. She's got the right amount of exotic sex appeal to carry off the naive, hesitant, and ultimately led astray character perfectly and who doesn't love her accent? [Photo B/W]

Joe/Leo: Griffin Gluck
Not sure if this character would make the big screen version, or even get much screen time if he does. If so, I think this kid is perfect for the role. Many may remember him in the movie Just Go With It with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. He's also been on the TV show Private Practice as Cooper's son.  [Photo]

Nick Andros: Joseph Gordon-Leavitt
He killed it in the movie Inception, clearly holding his own against megastar power Leonardo DiCaprio. The tough role of a young man who can't hear or talk, Nick Andros is one of the most important players in the group of the good guys, and I can see this actor represent him with such heartfelt attention to detail. The character is tough to translate to the big screen, and I don't think they fleshed out the importance of the role in the TV version, so Rob Lowe was kept pretty much in the background. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt could make it happen, without a doubt. One stipulation I'd request: Please don't kick out Nick's teeth or have his eye gouged! That's one change that the TV version did right. [Photo B/W]

Tom Cullen: Philip Seymour Hoffman
I love the character of Tom Cullen so much that I am absolutely frightened for anyone else to play him. I think only this actor can do the character justice, a character who is so important to the ultimate stand. [Photo B/W]

Glen Bateman: Denzel Washington
Curve ball, huh? How awesome is this actor? Denzel Washington could play any character on the planet and rock it. He would be completely believable as the amiable, yet tough, sociology professor who helps in the overall creation of the Free Zone, and who also understands how society falls apart and then recreates. [Photo B/W]

Ralph Brentner: Josh Lucas
You may recall Josh Lucas in a flurry of smaller films, but most know this actor from his role starring opposite Reese Witherspoon in the romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama. I can see him as the Midwest farmer walking across the country with Stu, Larry, and Glen.

Traschcan Man: Daniel Radcliffe.
Wait, wait, wait. Before you get all you-can't-mess-with-Harry-Potter on me, hear me out.  Yes. I think Daniel Radcliffe is a talented acter and could completely go out of character from the good wizard into the insane and burn-ravaged man. Stephen King mentioned that Billy Bob Thornton would be a good choice for this role, but I never thought Trashy was an older character. In my mind's eye, I envisioned the tormented character as a pretty young guy so I think Daniel Radcliffe would be fantastic. It would be such a CRAZY choice but can't you see him screaming, "My life for you!!!!" [Photo]

Lloyd Henreid: Ed Norton
I love the idea of Ed Norton as Poke's criminal sidekick who frighteningly evolves into the smart and confident second-in-command to Randall Flagg. Yes. Ed Norton would be perfect. [Photo B/W]

Judge Farris: Ken Watanabe
Yet another curve ball! And I really like this one. This cool dude is best known as starring opposite of Tom Cruise in the epic fierceness of The Last Samurai. He would be incredible as the soft-spoken and thoughtful, wise judge. Plus, we allllll know he can kick butt. [Photo B/W]

Dayna: Rosario Dawson
As one tough cookie in Sin City, one of my all-time favorite movies, not only can Rosario Dawson exhibit dignified strength (she has to be waaaay tough), she can also easily reflect that softness which will be irresistible to anyone in Flagg's camp. [Photo]

Rita Blakemoor: Glenn Close
Yeah, this character probably won't make the remake, but if so, wouldn't Glenn Close be outstanding? She's over 60, perfect age for the role, and has that sex appeal. [Photo]

And you know that guy who works for the government and comes in at the beginning to try and kill Stu in the facility in Stovington? I thought it would be a pretty cool cameo to have Matt Damon, a la Bourne salute, to be that dude. [Photo]

My sweet Roma is not a Pit Bull, 
but will happily accept the role of Kojak.
This picture is from my sister, www.digitalgraces.com
Kojak: Any Pit Bull
We have an opportunity here. Why not pick a dog who could help represent the opposite of what everyone thinks "dogs like that" are? It would be fantastic to have a dog that could be the "poster child" representative of ending the horrendous "Breed Specific Legislation" nonsense, which innocent Lennox was fatally punished for. The character of Kojak is a sweet and smart good dog and it would be nice to have a pit bull represented in a film of this magnitude who is not evil. It's time to break stereotypes, people! My dog is not a pit bull (she's a Vizsla), but people always think she is, so I'll include Roma the Dog as an example.

So, Mr. Affleck. While my letter is long and you'll probably never read this, I hope you get my drift on how important this movie is. I do envision a disgustingly high budget that will put Titanic to shame, but if you do it right, you will end up like James Cameron and make so much money you never have to do anything again except make random documentaries and wallpaper your house with cash. So with that, I wish you Godspeed and good luck to you, sir!

Natalie ~ the Coffee and a Book Chick

P.S. I read The Stand to participate in Trish's #standalong and also read this for my own project at The Stephen King Project, which I host with Kathleen from Boarding In My Forties.


  1. Brave and thought-provoking choices, here! I have been putting off re-reading The Stand ... perhaps this winter, when I need a long curl up and read tome ...

    1. I'm a little scared by some of my own choices, but that's a good thing, right? A little jarring selection for a role is not a bad thing. Or, maybe it means I really will get hit by a book!

  2. I like it, and I hope he reads it. :) I haven't read it yet, so your cast picks were meaningless to me (and I'm so out of tv/movies that I'm no good at picks!) BUT clearly you selected a stacked cast. I hope it rocks. It's so painful to have a book you love chopped up into bits by Hollywood! And I hope I get around to reading this one. You read the print, yes? Do you have any idea how the audiobook is?

    1. I have not listened to the audio version however I have it on good authority (The Stand readalong participants and The Guilded Earlobe) that the audio is incredible! I've heard they did an incredible job with the production of it and all of the reviews on Audible.com are outstanding, so you will probably love the audio production!

      *fingerscrossed* that Mr. Affleck reads it. Can you imagine? I would die!

  3. I won't see the movie anyway as I don't read Stephen King. Too scary. Hope Affleck takes your advice.

    1. Ooh, give SK a chance! If you don't like scary, then pick up his new 11/22/63. Not scary at all, just an incredible time travel story!

      And actually, I only thought the first part of The Stand was scary, the rest of it wasn't scary at all.

  4. Love your picks for the cast - some very interesting choices. I loved the tv movie of the book and have it on dvd and actually watched it a few months ago and can admit that I wouldn't mind watching a new, updated version of it. I had no idea that a remake was in the works, much less know that Affleck was directing it. Hmmm. Should definitely be interesting to see who winds up in it and how it turns out. Loved this post! Your letter was great!

    1. My picks are definitely ones I am anticipating getting yelled at :) I just watched the TV movie and while I liked several parts of it, I thought it was so doggone cheesy. What was up with Corin Nemec and his sourpuss face the whole time? Sheesh, I don't remember movies being like that back in '94!! :)

      I can't wait to see who gets picked for Affleck's remake!!

  5. Yes please to all of your cast and I dearly, sincerely, hope that Affleck doesn't screw it up!

  6. You've put some thought into this! I am impressed! I wouldn't disagree with any of your picks except for Viggo. I can't have him in that role. I love him, and if he is the Walking Dude, I might be tempted to go to the dark side. Just please no stinking Molly Ringwald-ish characters. BTW, I just got the last two episodes in graphic form, then I will have the entire set. *swoon*

    1. Oh, yes, I know what you mean about our good friend, Viggo. *dreamy sigh* And I'm with you on no more Molly Ringwald-like acting. I'm pretty sure she's much better than how she acted in the late '80s and early '90s. I hear she's a pretty amazing stage actress, which is pretty cool. But, I'll keep her out of my cast of the film, that's for sure!

      Lucky girl with getting the entire set! I'm going to have to check those out.

  7. OMG. I have tears in my eyes with your choice for Trashcan Man. I have to admire the fact that you took a shot with casting. My husband and I thought Gary Oldman would be a fantastic Randall Flagg.

    1. :) I knew that would be one choice someone would throw the book at me on! I think it would be awesome to see him in that role, completely different than what everyone knows him to be and he'd be so loaded up with fake burned and melting skin that you wouldn't even recognize him! Gary Oldman would be a nice choice, but I never saw that role as an older character, as I mentioned above, I always saw them as younger.

  8. Oh my gosh!!! Now, I have to say that the thing that struck me while looking over your list is how young everyone is! I haven't watched the original movie but I think I had the actors from the early 90s in my head as they have aged 25 years...you know? So Gary Sinise as he is now, etc. The entire book I was envisioning everyone to be in their 30s or 40s even though I KNOW this isn't true. Yikes.

    Viggo! Though I also think that Joaquin Phoenix would make a great choice, too. The only choice I'm not totally sold on is for Nick but I'm not sure who I'd sub. And you know, I love Ed Norton as Lloyd but I could also see him as Tom Cullen as well. Love this post!!

    1. Yep, I did pick a younger cast for it. For some reason, I always imagined younger people in each of the roles, so when I saw the TV movie, I was sort of confused by it. As I mentioned in the post, Stephen King thought Billy Bob Thornton would be a good choice for Trashcan Man, but I always saw this character as much, much younger. Not sure why? It's not like they really mentioned ages for Trashcan Man, especially, so not sure why I think he's younger.

      Joaquin Phoenix would be pretty smash-tastic in the role! Crazy nuts! Did you see that awesome mockumentary of him that Casey Affleck directed? I thought that was actually for real until I read more about it. It's hilarious when you know it's not real.

      You know what's funny is that I was up in the air for Ed Norton as Tom Cullen, too. I could totally see him in that role so I'd be stoked if he was selected for it!

  9. Your actor choices are excellent and spot on. Even the pit bull for Kojak. I can visualize these characters and I think each one would bring that quality to their character that is more than the book. Make them three dimensional. Make me like them better the book which is how it's supposed to be, right?

    1. I'm a big fan of changing stereotypes and a pit bull would just do that in an instant. Would love to see the support for those dogs to change to something positive instead of the negative images people automatically have. I'm glad you feel the same way, too! I thin it would be a great opportunity.

      I can't wait to see the final selections! And yes, it will definitely make the story much more intense with incredible depth. Can't wait!

  10. I love your choices! I think your picks for Randall, Glen, Stu and Nick are particularly spot on. I picture someone more homeless/old for Trashcan Man and I'm not sure about the Tom Cullen pick. I'm really excited to see how it's cast though. And J Lo as Nadine, just no.

    1. I can't wait to see the cast selections. I love Philip Seymour Hoffman and could just see him in the role, but you know, the eventual selection will probably be no one we ever thought would be picked! Which makes me excited and terrified!

  11. Wait, wasn't there a trashcan man in 11/23/63, too? Is that a reference (one of many, I'm sure) that I missed when I read 11/23/63. I whipped through The Stand so fast a couple of years ago, I've forgotten most of it, but your letter to Ben Affleck brought a lot of it back!

    1. I don't think there was a Trashcan Man in 11/22/63, but the Yellow Card Man was in it, so maybe that's who you're thinking of? But I can't wait to see what Ben Affeck brings to the table with The Stand!

  12. I always thought Nicholas Cage would make an interesting Randall Flagg. I think Johnny Depp could be pretty cool in that role too, or even as Trashcan Man. I think Ryan Gosling would be better as Larry. I can't see Zak Efron in the role.

    These are some really interesting suggestions on your part! You've given me much food for thought

    1. I love Johnny Depp. I actually was thinking about him for either Trashcan Man or for Randall Flagg, but then I thought about snagging someone that no one would expect would be any good at it. Sort of like Ephron for the role of Larry, too. I never watched High School Musical and actually forgot that he was in that when I picked him. I've watched his other more "grown-up" films and actually thought he was pretty engaging on camera. I think he might surprise some people!

      Ryan Gosling would be great in any role, but I would love to see him as Stu because he just exudes that goodness, that trustworthiness that I've always associated with the character.

  13. Great post, Natalie, I do like an open letter! Not familiar enough with King's novels to comment on your casting, but yay to Maggie Gyllenhaal. Love her.

  14. I'm late reading this, Natalie...and still only 3/4 of the way done with the extended version. My OCD wouldn't allow me to read the shorter version :p I'm with you on the characterizations except for one...Zach Ephron...I can't. I just can't. Too much High School Musical; I just don't know if as an actor he has enough depth and life experience for a part like Larry, and if J.Lo gets cast in this, I think that would be a shame as well...I'll back Jennifer Garner 100% on that choice. My favorite character in your list though is Cicely Tyson as Mother Abagail...I can soooo see that! Will be interesting to see how this turns out for sure.

    1. Funnily enough, I actually never watched High School Musical so I have no idea how that movie was! I've watched Ephron in all of his more "grown-up" movies, so it's definitely a change from whatever that musical nonsense was. :)

      I can't wait for you to finish The Stand! Let me know what you think of it!!

  15. Viggo! I thought Rob Zombie was an inspired choice, personally, but Viggo is effin' brilliant! He can do sexy, and he can do menacing. Also, Ed, Denzel, and Philip totally work for me. I'm not all that familiar with the younger people, but I figure anyone who can cast Viggo as Randall Flagg has my vote of confidence.

  16. I haven't read the Stand so I don't know about most of these characters, but I love the idea of casting a pit bull in a good-dog role instead of as the vicious barking growling evil-dog role. I have a pit mix and he is the SWEETEST thing ever... but far too many people are convinced he's "inherently aggressive" because of his breed. He's more likely to like someone to death than ever bite, though.

  17. wow nice casting job. you have a future in this

  18. Like Kerry, I have not read The Stand and am not at all familiar with any of the characters but I too LOVE the idea of casting a pitbull in the role of Kojak. Pits are wonderful dogs, and I read somewhere that they actually rank better than Labs or Goldens as "good dogs" -- meaning, brought up happy and healthy they are extremely loyal, intelligent, and make even better companions than those many hold as better dogs to have. It's an absolute shame that their good qualities have been exploited in such a terrible and detrimental way. Anyway, I just want to applaud you on your choice of dog!! I completely agree! :)

  19. Like Kerry, I have not read The Stand and am not at all familiar with any of the characters but I too LOVE the idea of casting a pitbull in the role of Kojak. Pits are wonderful dogs, and I read somewhere that they actually rank better than Labs or Goldens as "good dogs" -- meaning, brought up happy and healthy they are extremely loyal, intelligent, and make even better companions than those many hold as better dogs to have. It's an absolute shame that their good qualities have been exploited in such a terrible and detrimental way. Anyway, I just want to applaud you on your choice of dog!! I completely agree! :)

  20. well..you seriously got some interesting choices and I am not going to throw any book at you but take a look at my choices and think if you want to throw something at me or not

    Stu Redman---Timothy Olyphant(Timothy is the prefect Stu I can think of )
    Mother Abigail-Ruby Dee (she played Mother to a T and now she is closer to 108...)
    Frannie-Emma Stone (She has got the beauty and she has got the strength that defined Frannie)
    Harold Lauder-Jonah Hill(The toughest role to cast and as there are not many actors to fit the bill it is Jonah's task to portray the disturbed nerd and I can visualise him falling for Emma Stone)
    Glen Bateman-William Hurt
    Susan Stern-Judy Greer
    Ralph Brentner-Noah Emmerich
    Larry Underwood-Jim Sturgess(Jim Sturgess can be chosen for the role of Larry Underwood.Jim has got that cocky,rockstar look that would match the earlier nature of Larry.Also Jim is a good actor to portray the spiritual journey his character takes throughout the book.Also,he is a wonderful singer.)

    Nick Andros-Jake Gyllenhaal(I think Jake Gyllenhaal will also be a very apt choice for Nick Andros...he has got a very powerful set of emotions in his bag which will shine when he wont be getting any dialogues to speak.)

    Randall Flagg-Javier Bardem(I mean who can be evil and charming at the same time but Bardem)
    Lloyd Henreid-Mark Strong
    Trashcan Man-Jackie Earl Haley(This one is the pick of lot)
    The Kid-Joaquin Phoenix

  21. I haven't....cough. read the Stand yet. I'm apparently unaware of its awesomeness, though Zac Efron can do no wrong, just sayin.

  22. Oh wow, I didn't know. How awesome. I'm over my Stephen King phase but THe Stand has got to be one of my favourites. You did a great job with the casting! Lol.

  23. I really like your choices. Daniel Radcliffe! Brilliant! Ben Affleck likes to put himself in the movies he directs usually. If he did with this one also, which character do you think he would want to play?

  24. I'm almost finished the book - just 100 pages to go!

    I have to say, I'm really impressed with your picks. I had already envisioned Viggo Mortenson as RF and JGL as Nick Andros too.

    Personally though, I would probably make the following changes.

    Frannie Goldsmith: Amy Adams
    Nadine Cross: Eva Green
    Trashcan Man: Peter Stormare or Jackie Earl Haley
    Larry Underwood: an unknown actor (sorry, but casting a well established singer in the role of a one-hit wonder just doesn't work for me)

  25. BRILLIANT! Love every one of your choices. Except for Larry, I always think of Brandon Flowers

  26. BRILLIANT! Love every single one of your choices, except for Larry, I had always envisiined Brandkn Flowers (sorry)

  27. These picks rock. This reads like a casting director drafted it. Flagg, Nick, and Frannie are so spot on. The mental image my brain made for Nick even looks like Levitt. And Hoffman as Tom Cullen is perfect! If only there was enough money to actually get such a star-studded cast.