As Carrie the Musical rages on in Los Angeles, another Stephen King classic is set to terrorize the New York stage.
Broadway welcomes Misery to the fold this season in a new stage adaptation of King’s 1987 novel, written by William Goldman, who penned the 1990 film version starring Kathy Bates as a psychotic fan who holds her favorite novelist (James Caan) hostage following a car crash.
On Broadway, the roles have been filled by Laurie Metcalf and Bruce Willis in a production directed by Will Frears, who equates the pair’s chemistry to a symphony between two sonic souls (although a third actor, Leon Addison Brown, also pops up during the play as an ill-fated sheriff).
“Laurie is a performing animal and Bruce is a machine through the middle, so you get this wonderful contrast where it becomes orchestral,” Frears tells EW of the taut thriller. “They play their talents in different ways, delightfully, so that they’re both there in concert with each other. Laurie’s a genius and she’ll do things you’ve never considered possible. And there’s something just to have Bruce do Bruce, which I find thrilling to watch.”
But for all the folks flocking to the Broadhurst Theatre to see a starry, snowy showdown between Metcalf and Willis, there’s another subsection of theatergoer who’ll visit Misery to see just one thing: someone’s ankles get sledgehammered.
For that pivotal, gruesome moment, Frears had a very specific vision in mind. “There’s only ever been one way: you break his ankles with a sledgehammer,” he says, laughing. “The largest conversation was, which ankle first?” Equating the climactic scene to the “To be, or not to be” soliloquy in Hamlet, Frears knows that the giggling, gasping audience grows visibly agitated the closer they get to the hobbling.
“You can feel their excitement, that they spent the whole show waiting for it to come,” he teases. “I feel like people’s memories of the film are so extraordinary at this point — or, their memory of their memory, if that makes sense — that it always felt very important to me that you had to give them what they wanted to see. And if you’re giving them what they want, you have to give them the best version of what they want.”
Misery opens Nov. 15 at the Broadhurst Theatre, but enjoy EW’s exclusive first look at the gloomy hostage situation: