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As Stephen King fans wait on pins and needles and red balloons for the second half of IT to hit the big screen, it won't be long before Hulu unleashes TV's biggest dive yet into King's bibliograph, the thriller Castle Rock. Thankfully, Hulu finally announced a premiere date for Castle Rock through a brand new and thrill-filled trailer, which you can watch below. Pay attention, and you'll see a super-rare canonical connection between two live-action King adaptations, in the form of a Shawshank Redemption reference.
First, doesn't Castle Rock look fantastic? That was obviously the dream from the beginning, but considering this is a big-budget, star-studded amalgamation of Stephen King's fictional universe that isn't fully adapting any one specific work, there was room for it to fail. Wonderfully, though, each new look we've seen looks even more creepily mysterious than the last. And beyond the more surface-level references we've seen that bring King to the mind's forefront, Castle Rock has apparently confirmed that it is set within the same reality as the 1994 classic The Shawshank Redemption, as directed by Frank Darabont, and based on King's 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.
How, you ask? That picture at the 42-second mark is of The Shawshank Redemption's corrupt Warden Samuel Norton, as portrayed by actor Bob Gunton. As viewers no doubt remember, Norton's tenure as Shawshank's bossman did not end well for the man, who took himself out of the equation to avoid punishment for his sins and crimes involving the lives of Andy Dufresne and others. And while his death all those years in Castle Rock's history probably won't have any overarching effect on the plotline, the fact that there's a film-to-TV connection is pretty incredible, and potentially opens the door for more. (Especially since Pennywise himself Bill Skarsgård is playing one of the people inside the show's Shawshank.)
Going by the other pictures on the wall, there was apparently only one warden that served between Samuel Norton's time and that of the most recent head honcho, Dale Lacy, as played by Lost vet Terry O'Quinn. Lacy isn't a character from any of Stephen King's books, so it'll be interesting to see how he relates to Norton and some of the other authoritarian figures we've read about on the page.
Castle Rock will also boast names that are familiar to King's giant fanbase, and I'm not just talking about Carrie herself Sissy Spacek starring. The Defenders vet Scott Glenn will play Sheriff Alan Pangborn, a character who featured in several different King works, and was portrayed on screen by Timothy Hutton in The Dark Half, and by Ed Harris in Needful Things. And considering Bill Skarsgård's character still hasn't gotten a proper name, yet, we're thinking he'll have another surprisingly familiar name to novel readers.
None of that guarantees we'll get any more specific live-action connections like Warden Norton's existence, but there's at least a decent chance of shoutouts to any Stephen King adaptations that Warner Bros. and its subsidiaries produced, since this is a co-production between the WB and Bad Robot, just as Hulu's own dramatic debut 11.22.63 was. Could Castle Rock live in a reality where JFK hadn't been assassinated, though? We'll just have to wait and see.