As The Stand miniseries unfolded across nine episodes from the end of last year into the early weeks of 2021, one thing became very clear: Alexander Skarsgard is a tremendous Randall Flagg. Much like how his brother, Bill Skarsgard, perfectly embodied Pennywise The Dancing Clown in Andy Muschietti’s IT, the actor brought the powerful antagonist to life with the precise palpable charisma and disturbing sense of danger that the character possesses in Stephen King’s novels. Unfortunately his final scene in the miniseries is the last we’ll see of Skarsgard in the role for now, as the Paramount+ exclusive was always designed to be a limited affair – but that doesn’t mean that the showrunner isn’t still holding out hope that we could see him come back someday.
I had a fantastic extended virtual chat with The Stand’s Benjamin Cavell earlier this month to talk all about his work on the Stephen King miniseries, and it was at the very end that our conversation shifted to a discussion about the future. I asked if there were any other King stories that he would be interested in adapting, and having spent much of the interview talking about Randall Flagg, Cavell answered in part about what still could be possible with the Alexander Skarsgard incarnation of the character:
We certainly made the show, and made Flagg in the show... Again, speaking of balance, we wanted to have the portrayal exist completely on its own. You could enjoy the show with no knowledge of the role that Flagg plays in the King universe or any of these other incarnations of him. But we also wanted to play it in a way that allowed for all of that stuff to exist if you want it to, or if, frankly, if King decides, 'Hey, let's continue this and let's see if Skarsgard will do it in this context' or whatever.
Going by many names over the years, Randall Flagg has a seemingly ever-expanding reach and influence in Stephen King’s fiction. He made his debut as the essence of evil in 1978’s The Stand, and was developed afterward through the Dark Tower series and 1987’s The Eyes Of The Dragon, but his presence has been felt far beyond just those stories in King’s bibliography. And because of the nature of the multiverse and his relationship with it, it’s a character that in some ways dictates his own canon – so Alexander Skarsgard could easily reprise the role and operate in a completely different kind of story than the post-apocalypse epic.
As of right now there aren’t any concrete plans to actually make this happen, but clearly it’s something that Benjamin Cavell has thought about. It’s a door that he has no plans on closing, if not especially because of how much appreciation he had for his time collaborating with both Stephen King and Alexander Skarsgard in the making of The Stand. Said Cavell,
So, listen, I never say never. I mean, if Stephen King comes and says, 'Hey, I want to do this thing,' then obviously that's a conversation you have for all sorts of reasons. He was such a pleasure throughout this – actually both ‘Hes,’ both Stephen King and Alexander Skarsgard were both so wonderful and so game and so collaborative.
Admittedly this is a cool idea that works better theoretically than realistically, as the logistics of the situation are immensely complicated due to the fact that the rights to Stephen King books are spread out all over the place. It would likely require a significant undertaking for the legal wrangling to be hashed out, and probably a lot of money, but why give up hope? The Dark Tower series that was being planned by Amazon stalled out in January 2020, and Hulu’s developing version of The Eyes Of The Dragon fell apart last year as well. Like Benjamin Cavell, I’m not ready to give up on the idea of the stars aligning. While Constant Readers wait for more, we can always still enjoy the Alexander Skarsgard performance as Randall Flagg that does exist. All nine episodes of The Stand are now streaming exclusively on Paramount+ – and as you watch be sure to check out my episode-by-episode book-to-show guide.