What Work of Stephen King’s Is ‘Castle Rock’ Based on? The Answer is Complicated
It’s a great time to be a Stephen King fan. Last year alone, four of his stories — It, The Dark Tower, Gerald’s Game, and 1922 — received adaptations, with all but The Dark Tower garnering positive reviews. The latest King-based piece of material is Castle Rock, a Hulu original series. So what King writing is this based on, exactly?
The answer, confusingly, is both “many of them” and “none of them.” Castle Rock doesn’t directly adapt any of King’s work, with the storyline itself being brand new. However, it draws from all sorts of material he has written over the years.
For instance, the setting itself, Castle Rock, first appeared in King’s novel The Dead Zone, and it subsequently popped up in books like Cujo and Needful Things. The Shawshank prison from The Shawshank Redemption shows up in this new Hulu series as well.
Castle Rock promises to include lots more connections like that, with some characters from King works appearing and with others potentially being revealed as relatives of King protagonists. One established character who we know will be in the show is Alan Pangborn, who appeared in The Dark Half and Needful Things. In Castle Rock, he’s being played by Scott Glenn.
“I loved the perpetual possibilities of what you might find for fans of King behind any door, who someone might be, who they might be related to, what they might have been involved in,” producer J.J. Abrams told The New York Times.
Jane Levy also portrays a woman named Jackie Torrance, which obviously calls to mind Jack Torrance from The Shining, though it’s unclear whether those characters will be related or whether this is just an allusion.
The creator of the show, Sam Shaw, says that they’re free to bring in basically anything they want from any King work ever published. “Virtually anything in the Stephen King multiverse is gospel,” Shaw told The Times.
The series also notably reuses a number of actors from Stephen King films, although they aren’t playing the same characters. For instance, Sissy Spacek, who played the titular teenager in the 1976 film adaptation of Carrie, portrays the adoptive mother of Castle Rock‘s lead character.
Also starring in the show is Bill Skarsgård, who just portrayed Pennywise in the 2017 version of It and will reprise the character in the upcoming sequel, It: Chapter Two. Chosen Jacobs, who played Mike Hanlon in the new It, has a role in Castle Rock as well.
Castle Rock is being described as an anthology series, so if it’s popular enough to earn a second season, the focus would shift to a new plot, and there would be a new set of actors stepping in. We probably shouldn’t rule that second season out, especially since the series has been earning solid reviews so far, holding an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have assured King fans that there are plenty of Easter Eggs for them to enjoy, also praising the series’ overarching mystery and comparing the show to Lost.
Castle Rock premieres on Hulu on July 25th. The first three episodes will be available on that date, with the episodes being released weekly after that.