While Mark L. Lester’s Firestarter isn’t generally recalled as one of the all-time top tier Stephen King adaptations, one thing that is undeniable is that the ensemble cast is stacked. Drew Barrymore, fresh off her star-making turn in E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, plays the lead in the movie, and she is surrounded by the exceptional talents of Freddie Jones, George C. Scott, Art Carney, Louise Fletcher, and Martin Sheen (who starred in The Dead Zone the previous year). That’s an impressive lineup of actors that would be terrifically hard for any production to try and compare with, but the upcoming remake of the King novel is certainly doing its best.
After years of development, the new adaptation of Firestarter is finally becoming a reality, and over the last year the production has been adding some notable names to its cast. The process is still a work in progress despite the fact that the movie has already begun filming, but below you’ll learn about all of the actors confirmed to be involved thus far, and find details about the parts they will be playing.
Zac Efron’s career has evolved greatly since his breakout years as the star of the High School Musical movies, and after big hits like Neighbors and The Greatest Showman he is now ready to tackle his first Stephen King adaptation. He will star as Andy McGee in the upcoming film, who is a young father forced to go on the run with his daughter while being pursued by a government agency known as The Shop. The reason they are being chased is because they both possess psychic abilities – Andy specifically having the power to “push” people to his will by altering their perception of reality.
Ryan Kiera Armstrong
Playing Andy’s daughter Charlie McGee in Firestarter is young Ryan Kiera Armstrong. She technically plays the titular role, as the great gift that Charlie possesses is pyrokinesis – a.k.a. the ability to start fires with her mind. Being just a young child, she doesn’t have full control over her abilities, and The Shop both fears her potential, and wants to harness it. Unlike Efron, Armstrong actually has past experience in Stephen King movies, as she previously played Pennywise victim Victoria Fuller in IT: Chapter Two. Her other credits include Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, the Chris Pratt sci-fi thriller The Tomorrow War, and Anne With An E.
John Rainbird is one of Stephen King’s most fearsome antagonists, as he is a deadly sociopath with an exceptionally strong will and devious mind – and one of the most exciting elements of the upcoming Firestarter remake is the fact that we will be getting to see the character brought to life by Michael Greyeyes. While primarily known for his work on the small screen (he currently stars in the Peacock series Rutherford Falls), he earned strong reviews at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival for his performance in the indie movie Wild Indian.
It has been confirmed by Blumhouse Productions that Mr. Robot/City On A Hill’s Gloria Reuben has joined the cast of the new Firestarter adaptation – but an interesting wrinkle to the casting is that it hasn't been officially said what role she is playing. That being said, the trailer suggests that she is taking on the role of Captain Hollister: the head of The Shop who employs John Rainbird to track Charlie and Andy McGee down.
Sydney Lemmon, who like Michael Greyeyes is a veteran of Fear The Walking Dead, has come aboard Firestarter to play the aforementioned role of Vicky McGee. Vicky and Andy first meet in college when they are both volunteers for a drug trial. Like her future husband, she too gains a psychic gift – the ability to read minds… though that’s not a power that ultimately comes in too handy when agents from The Shop execute plans to abduct Charlie from the McGee home.
This bit of casting was kept under wraps until the debut of the first trailer for Firestarter. Like the case with Gloria Reuben, it has not yet been confirmed who Kurtwood Smith is playing in the upcoming film, but all evidence suggests that he is playing Dr. Joseph Wanless. In the book, Wanless conducts the experiment that ends up giving Andy and Vicky McGee their psychic abilities, and years later becomes beyond paranoid about the potential of Charlie McGee's powers. This will be the first time that Smith has starred in a Stephen King adaptation, but he is a veteran of both the big and small screens, best known for his roles in Robocop and That '70s Show.
Lastly we have John Beasley. He's another rookie when it comes to starring in Stephen King adaptations, but he's been a stalwart character actor in the industry since the 1990s. A lot of his work is on the small screen, but he has a good number of horror films on his resume, including Sam Raimi's The Gift and James DeMonaco's The Purge Anarchy. His role in Firestarter has not yet been confirmed by Universal or Blumhouse, but it's safe bet that he is playing Irv Manders, a kindly man who, along with his wife Norma, give Andy and Charlie McGee safe haven for a short spell during their time on the run.
Firestarter will be hitting theaters and streaming on Peacock on May 13. To learn about all of the developing projects based on the works of Stephen King, be sure to check out our Upcoming Stephen King guide, and to take a tour through the author’s incredible history on both the big and small screen, be sure to check out my Adapting Stephen King column.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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