Adapting a written work for TV has to be an intimidating job, and even more so when that written work comes from one of the most famous authors of all time. Such a task was taken by Danish filmmaker Christian Torpe, who adapted and expanded the beloved supernatural novella The Mist for Spike, and when Torpe recently spoke with CinemaBlend about the highly anticipated new show, he told me he got some pretty stellar advice from Stephen King himself.
I had, at a point early in the process, I sat down and wrote him a very, very long email about what I proposed to change and why I wanted to do it, and how I thought it spoke to something very contemporary. I pressed Send, I barely slept that night, and I woke up the next morning and got an email from him. Reading that is probably the scariest thing I've ever done. But he was just incredibly kind and generous and said as long as I didn't do anything ordinary, then he was completely on board with allowing me to fire away and do what I wanted. That was such a generous thing and so kind of him.
As someone who has never received good advice from Stephen King for any reason whatsoever, I can only imagine the kind of mental stress bouncing around Christian Torpe's mind while awaiting a response from the King of Horror. A response that wasn't even guaranteed, no less. Thankfully, there wasn't much for Torpe to worry about, since King is about as genial and accepting as possible in regards to others adapting parts of his bibliography. (He famously allows certain indie filmmakers and film students to adapt his works for just $1, earning those efforts the nickname of Dollar Babies.) Though he was granted just the kind of vague advice that can drive a creative mind insane, Torpe was definitely relieved and grateful for what minimal guidance was given.
As the director of Maximum Overdrive sporting a prominent hard-on for slamming Stanley Kubrick's almost universally respected feature take on The Shining, King inspires curiosity and intrigue with all of his opinions and ideas about other forms of pop culture. So we're just as interested to hear what he thinks about The Mist's finished product as we were about how he granted his blessing for it.
Of course, few would probably expect Stephen King to respond with a multi-layered thesis laying out what changes he wanted to see, as well as how they would be best performed, and a simple "Good luck!" would have likely been embraced by Christian Torpe. But the bestselling author instead provided an anti-suggestion, basically giving Torpe the Mist-covered New England setting to use has his TV sandbox. And as you'll see in our review, it's a pretty freaky sandbox indeed.
It's quite interesting that Christian Torpe is the person who is bringing The Mist to life, since he's not exactly known for making audiences squirm from CGI monsters, being best known for the excellent comedic drama Rita. Here's how he told me he actually landed the gig.
I actually started out in comedy. I've been doing drama, and while I certainly have a darkness in my writing, I'm not a traditional horror writer. So we had some very long, honest conversations about the fact that if I'm gonna do this, it's gonna be just as much a psychological drama with horror elements, when they are appropriate for the story. That's also what I love most about Mr. King's work. It's the characters, and it's the underlying themes and the small-town portraits just as much as the horror. So that was sort of my take on it. And fortunately, Bob Weinstein very much agreed with that and decided to develop this.