Stranger Things Creators Talk Stephen King's The Talisman Adaptation, And How EP Steven Spielberg's Influence Shines Through The Horror

Vecna in Upside-Down in Stranger Things 4
(Image credit: Netflix)

One of the biggest TV shows on the planet right now is, of course, Netflix’s Stranger Things, which is currently in the midst of a split-season hiatus, with millions of viewers around the world eagerly awaiting the final two feature-length episodes. After that, we’re dealing with the stressful wait for the fifth and final season, but at some point around then, my friends, is presumably when Matt and Ross Duffer, along with writer Curtis Gwinn, will push full-steam forward with their episodic adaptation of Stephen King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman. The Netflix project, first announced in March 2021, is apparently still in its earliest stages of development, according to a new update from the brothers, who also spoke to Steven Spielberg’s overarching influence as an executive producer.

Speaking with Variety about Stranger Things’s first seven episodes from Season 4, among other monstrous topics, the horror hit’s creators were asked about the upcoming series, for which they will serve as executive producers. Here’s where Matt Duffer says things are at in the Talisman process.

It’s amazing. So we had one meeting with Steven Spielberg and the other producers. It’s just really early right now. We have an outline right now for the first episode.

While that may sound disappointing in a sense, let’s not forget that there isn’t a timeline in place for when this project is meant to happen. And given Curtis Gwinn and the Duffer brothers are all working on making sure Stranger Things nails its final outing, it’s best not to disturb anything on that front until there’s light at the end of the tunnel. (Hopefully not from more Russian breach-opening lasers.) 

Even if there isn’t more in place on the page for The Talisman’s adaptation, you can bet that everyone involved is thinking about it whenever they’re not caught up in the Upside Down. And with Steven Spielberg’s name coming up, Ross Duffer spoke to how the iconic director and the Amblin Entertainment brand make sense for this project, which might seem a bit too horror-themed. (At least this many years after Spielberg’s work on Jaws, that is.) Here’s how Duffer put it:

Yeah with Spielberg, I think what’s really inspiring is how much he loves the joy of storytelling, and specifically with this story of The Talisman, there’s a lot of supernatural things - there’s a werewolf, there’s a lot of exciting things that are going on - but at its core, it’s really about a mother and a son and their relationship, and their love for one another. So I think hopefully the goal of it is to make sure that really carries the series. So we’re excited about it.

Perhaps that’s not such a surprising description to hear, given how Stranger Things’ initial hook centered on a son being taken away from his increasingly frantic mother, and family has remained a throughline for the series in various ways. And it obviously makes sense from a Spielberg and Amblin perspective. A mother and her son are also at the heart of Cujo, which Stephen King apparently wrote a sequel to recently, but that doesn’t exactly seem up the E.T. director’s alley.

The Talisman will give the Duffer brothers the chance to work on directly adapting Stephen King’s novels after being so heavily influenced by the author, both on screen and off. (King himself noted the Carrie homage in Season 4, and also has ideas for spinoffs, but that’s neither here nor there.) Here’s hoping we’ll get more news on the adaptation in the near future, and check out all the big shows coming to Netflix in the meantime.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.