It was less than a year ago that Stephen King’s Later hit bookshelves everywhere, but already there is an adaptation in the works. Late last month it was announced that Blumhouse Television is now developing a miniseries based on the novel, and in addition to having Raelle Tucker (Supernatural, Jessica Jones) on board as a writer, the project has also brought aboard Lucy Liu to star.
The project is still in early days, but it’s never too early to start building excitement, and today that’s taking the form of fan casting – albeit with a twist. Just as I did for the upcoming remakes of Firestarter with Zac Efron and Edgar Wright’s The Running Man, I’ve imagined the ensemble of Later only using actors who have previously starred in Stephen King adaptations. So what does this ensemble look like? Let’s start with the part that I’m keeping my fingers crossed is being reserved for Lucy Liu:
Lucy Liu As Elizabeth "Liz" Dutton
When an actor signs on to a project when it is in the earliest stages of development, generally speaking they are being set up to play a protagonist. In the case of Later, however, I’m hoping that the adaptation bucks that trend and has Lucy Liu aboard to play Elizabeth “Liz” Dutton. Not only is it a more substantial part in the larger scheme of things (she is the book’s primary antagonist), but also a more complex role that Liu could do great things with. In the novel, Liz is introduced as a police officer and Tia Conklin’s girlfriend, but her arc takes a turn toward the dark side as some really terrible and selfish decisions have major consequences.
Carla Gugino (Gerald’s Game) As Tia Conklin
If Lucy Liu does end up playing Liz in Later, Carla Gugino would be a wonderful choice to take on the part of Tia Conklin – and not just because she is excellent in everything she does. It’s a role that requires a perfect blend of grit and sweetness, as Tia is a single mother who runs her own literary agency through a mix of financial ups and downs and always fights to keep her head above water. She moves to the background of the story more in the back half of the book, but she has a vital role in the opening, and the Gerald’s Game star would be brilliant.
Jacob Tremblay (Doctor Sleep) As Jamie Conklin
Admittedly the pool of age appropriate actors who could play Jamie Conklin and have previous Stephen King experience is spectacularly small, but Jacob Tremblay would be the number one choice for the part even without that extra parameter. Jamie is the main character in Later after all, so why not go for the best child actor in the business right now? Tremblay delivered a gut-wrenching performance as Bradley Trevor a.k.a. The Baseball Boy in Doctor Sleep, and he would unquestionably do amazing things in this miniseries as a child who can see and talk to the dead.
George MacKay (11.22.63) As Kenneth Therriault a.k.a. Thumper
George MacKay is probably best known for his spectacular turn as the protagonist of Sam Mendes’ 1917, but a few years back he played a great supporting part in Hulu’s 11.22.63 miniseries, and I get the sense that he could do wonderful things with a psychotic character like Kenneth Therriault a.k.a. Thumper in Later. Therriault in the book is a serial bomber who ends up haunting Jamie Conklin in terrifying fashion, and MacKay has the skills to make him pop as a terrifying villain in the adaptation.
Bruce Davison (Apt Pupil, Kingdom Hospital, “The Word Processor Of The Gods”) As Professor Martin Burkett
When Jamie finds himself plagued by his supernatural ability and advice for dealing with Kenneth Therriault, he makes a wise decision: he turns to the smartest person he knows. This happens to be his old neighbor, Professor Martin Burkett, and it’s with Martin’s help that the protagonist is quite literally able to face his demons. Bruce Davison, who has a plethora of Stephen King experience, certainly has the geniality to play the role, and can give off the necessary air of intellectual authority.
Steven Weber (Desperation, The Shining, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, “The Revelations Of ‘Becka Paulson”) As Regis Thomas
Regis Thomas has a relatively small role to play as a character in Later, introduced as Tia Conklin’s golden goose client who passes away prior to writing the conclusion to his long-running book series – but if a bit of stunt casting is on the table, Steven Weber would be a terrific fit. Not only are his credentials in the legacy of Stephen King adaptations spectacular, but his reading of IT makes for one of the all-time great audiobook listens. Seeing him make a quick appearance in the Later miniseries as the novel’s recluse mystery writer would be delightful.
Gary Sinise (The Stand, The Green Mile) As Uncle Harry
Lastly we have another small but significant supporting role in Later. The character is referred to only as Uncle Harry, as that is his relationship with Jamie, and admittedly it is not a terrifically vocal role, as Harry unfortunately has early onset Alzheimer's and is in a care facility from the very beginning of the story. That being said, he has a moment at the end of the book that deserves to be performed by an actor with real gravitas, and Gary Sinise would be a wonderful choice. It wouldn’t be work unlike his one-scene role as Burt Hammersmith in The Green Mile, and also the actor’s first Stephen King adaptation since that 1999 movie.
Later is still very much in the early development stages, so we may have to wait a while before learning about any of these roles being cast – but you can be sure that we’ll have all the updates for you here on CinemaBlend as the project progresses. In the meantime, you can keep track of every Stephen King adaptation in the works with our Upcoming Stephen King Movies and TV guide.
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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