Culture

Beyond Boone: Casting Stephen King's 'The Stand'

Matthew McConaughey/Photo © JaguarPS/Shutterstock

It feels like Stephen King's "The Stand" has been simmering at Warner Bros. since, well, the last adaptation wrapped in 1994. The 1994 version originally aired on NBC ABC as a four-part miniseries and is a longtime favorite among fans of Stephen King. The "Stand" is arguably Stephen King's most well-known and best loved book. It follows a group of survivors after a weaponized strain of the flu causes a pandemic obliterating most of the world's population. "The Stand" is King's quintessential take on the ultimate struggle of good vs. evil, and it's a sprawling epic. With the recent announcements of Josh Boone ("The Fault in Our Stars") as director/writer for the project and confirmation that the adaptation will be spread across four films, "The Stand" appears to be moving in the right direction. And the fact that Matthew McConaughey is apparently being considered for the role of Randall Flag should certainly have even the most cynical fan optimistic. Now we have to ask: Who will fill out the rest of the cast?

Stu Redman is Stephen King's quintessential everyman. He's a quiet Texan who doesn't seek authority as much as he simply accepts it. There is a job to be done, thus Stu steps up. He's weary and intelligent, but also forthright and not entirely comfortable with his role in the post-plague world. Michael Shannon is one of the most underrated actors of this generation with mesmerizing turns in films like "Take Shelter" and "Shotgun Stories," and he has shown a remarkable ability to portray an average man thrust into exceptional, and even violent, circumstances.

Frances "Frannie" Goldsmith is strong, resourceful. She's a capable survivor and often the heart of the group of survivors. More importantly, as she is immune to the pandemic and pregnant at the beginning of the outbreak, she may well be carrying mankind's last hope. In her relatively short career, Shailene Woodley has portrayed a number of strong willed but ultimately flawed characters ("Divergent," "The Spectacular Now"). She is a dynamic actress and more than capable of bringing the turmoil and strength of Frannie to the screen.

Awkward and something of an outcast, Harold Lauder's lack of self-esteem, grandiose ambitions, and unrequited love for Frannie provide one of the novel's core conflicts. This is a particularly tough part to cast. Harold swings from redeemable to despicable throughout The Stand and is in turns likable and creepy. Josh Gad is a deceptively talented comedic actor who could walk the line between awkward underdog and unhinged conspirator.

Glen Bateman is a retired sociology professor and a mentor/adviser to Stu Redman. Bateman plays a pivotal role in novel's climax. This casting is a bit of no-brainer. There really is no better sage mentor figure in Hollywood right now than Michael Caine.

Larry Underwood is an aspiring singer/songwriter trying to capitalize on the success of his debut single. He begins as a poster child for the excesses of stardom, but his heroic core eventually shoves its way to the fore. Bradley Cooper has the look and the cocksure attitude to pull off a nascent rock star and his recent turn in films like "Silver Linings Playbook" prove his depth and talent.

Nick Andros is a deaf-mute drifter and the moral center for the group of survivors. Andros is a charismatic and quietly heroic. Michael B. Jordan is a criminally under-looked and talented actor and his immediately likeable screen presence makes him a great fit for Andros.

Tom Cullen is a developmentally disabled man left alone following the pandemic. He is intensely loyal and full of a wonderment that immediately endears him to the core group of survivors. Playing a character facing these challenges is a delicate balancing act. John C. Reilly is capable of the sort of nuance required for a character like Tom Cullen.

Nadine Cross is a teacher who feels an inexplicable draw toward antagonist Randall Flagg. She maintains her virginity based on an ethereal sense that she has been committed to some greater purpose. Cross is a deeply conflicted and tragic character. Eva Green has both the inherent sensuality and simmering inner turmoil necessary for Nadine Cross.

Mother Abigail is the impetus for the gathering of the core group of survivors. She speaks to each through their dreams and beckons them to her home in Nebraska. She believes herself to be a prophet and is the physical representation of good (the direct opposite of Randall Flagg). Mother Abigail is a wise, serene force among the group of survivors and despite her age she has maintained a mischievous sense of humor and disarming wit. Cicely Tyson has the charm and quiet dignity for this keystone role.

Finally, we already know that Matthew McConaughey is a likely front-runner for the role of Randall Flagg. Flagg is a central, recurring villain in the larger universe of Stephen King. He's crafty, charming, unnerving, and deadly. McConaughey has long been in my top two or three when contemplating this role, so here's hoping Warner Bros. can pin him down.

Where do you stand (see what I did there...) on dream casting "The Stand"? Do you have a better choice for one of the roles? Did I leave out one of your favorite characters from the book? Let us know in the comments below.