Zac Efron's Upcoming Stephen King Remake Just Added Its Main Villain

The remake of Stephen King's Firestarter is now really starting to come together. The project was announced to be developing at Blumhouse in 2017, and director Keith Thomas came aboard in late 2019, but then last fall the movie took a massive step forward by adding it's first A-lister: Zac Efron. Now, a little more than four months later, Efron is no longer the only member of the cast, as the project has officially announced the casting of the main villain.

Blumhouse has revealed that actor Michael Greyeyes, best known for his work on shows including Fear The Walking Dead, True Detective, and V-Wars, has landed the role of John Rainbird in the Firestarter remake. In recent weeks the actor has earned praise for his performance in the 2021 Sundance Film Festival entry Wild Indian, and this part looks like it could wind up being his most high-profile one of his career thus far.

Based on the book by Stephen King that was first published in 1980, Firestarter tells the story of Andy and Charlie McGee – a father and daughter who find themselves running for their lives from an agency known as The Shop because of psychic powers they possess. With enough concentration, Andy has the ability to mentally "push" people (a limited kind of mind control), but far more important to the government is that young Charlie has pyrokinesis a.k.a. she's a firestarter.

John Rainbird is an agent who operates for The Shop – and is also a sadistic psychotic. When he learns of what Charlie can do, he becomes obsessed with her, and though his handlers don't know it, he has plans to take the girl for himself when she is found. It's a terrifying character, and the potential for a great performance from Michael Greyeyes is through the roof.

In the 1984 version of Firestarter, directed by Mark L. Lester and starring a young Drew Barrymore as Charlie McGee, the role of John Rainbird was played by George C. Scott. With a modern perspective, it's definitely an example of problematic casting, as the character is Native American, but that's clearly an issue that has been avoided with the remake.

Scott Teems, who has been working with Blumhouse on the upcoming franchise sequel Halloween Kills, is writing the adaptation from Stephen King's book – though the latest press release doesn't mention when the movie is planning to begin rolling. With Firestarter moving its gears and getting its cast together, though, that likely means that the start of filming isn't far off. Hopefully we'll learn about more names joining Zac Efron and Michael Greyeyes in the cast soon – filling key roles like Charlie McGee, Vicky McGee, Captain Hollister, Dr. Joseph Wanless, and Irv and Norma Manders –and with that information may come details about the launch of production.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.