Julianne Moore on starring in Stephen King's genre-bending Lisey's Story: 'Holy cow, what now?'
The acclaimed author himself adapted all eight episodes of the series, which debuts on Apple TV+ June 4.
Lisey's Story (TV Series)
"I was attracted to it because of Stephen, and also because it was something that was so personal to him," Moore, who says she's familiar with some of the beloved author's earlier works, explains. "One of the things that's amazing about Stephen and his writing is that he's able to explore human relationships but in a fantastical way. [This story] was sort of investigating the idea of an adult, mature relationship and a long-term one — a marriage — and what it meant to them personally, the secrets that they shared."
Based on his best-selling 2006 novel of the same name, Lisey's Story follows Lisey Landon (Moore) two years after the death of her famous novelist husband, Scott Landon (Clive Owen). Hounded by a sinister fan obsessed with getting his hands on Scott's unpublished manuscripts (played by an eerie Dane DeHaan), and faced with a series of unsettling events involving her sister (Joan Allen, in a stunning turn), Lisey is forced to confront memories of her dead husband that she had repressed.
King, who himself has had scary encounters with stalkers, has said he was inspired to write the book after he came home from a long hospital stay to find his wife had reorganized his study, making him feel "like a ghost" in his own home. Although it's not autobiographical, the story is deeply personal to King, which is why, though he usually takes a hands-off approach to his adaptations, he felt so strongly about writing all eight episodes. He's even gone so far as describing the book as his favorite among his works.
"I would never have gotten involved with this thing at my age, if it wasn't," King, who's 73, tells EW. "You know, they're all my favorites. I love them all. Some of them are difficult children to love, some of them a little bit easier. This is a little bit difficult to love, but I've always loved the story and that's the reason I got involved."
In fact, he says he kept the rights to the story to himself because he knew he wanted to be the one to adapt it, and it wasn't until he saw The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, of all things, that he felt he had to finally make it happen. "I looked at that thing and I said to myself, my goodness, this guy Tom Rob Smith wrote the whole thing. He wrote all eight or nine episodes, and I thought, well, if he could do that, and bring it home and do such a great job, what about Lisey?" he says.
And, he's glad he waited, thanks to the rise in recent years of streaming platforms and the flexibility they present. "The whole form of longform TV is opened up in a way that it wasn't before. You have a chance to do more. You can be a little more graphic with language and with sexual situations and with length, [and have] the chance to do something that has that kind of spread, texture, and a little more nuance. For guys like me, it's been great," he says.
Indeed, this is good news for Lisey's Story, which features some trademark King horror, some deeply intimate romance, family drama, a mystery, and even some fantasy elements in the form of a secret world called Boo'ya Moon that Scott — and eventually Lisey — has access to.
Fans of the book will be happy to know that the show is incredibly faithful to its source material, right down to all the genre-hopping. "It's all in there. Because there's so much in it — psychological horror, romance, mystery, a science-fiction-like quality, sort of scary brutality — sometimes I was like, holy cow, what now?" Moore says with a laugh.
The Oscar-winning actress hopes that for all the fantastical moments and twists and turns, viewers will see themselves reflected in the material — whether it's the connection to one's career, family relationships, or the bond between couples. For her, when it comes to Lisey's story and the marriage at its center, the takeaway is simple. "It's that marriage is worthwhile," she says. "It's interesting, because in so much of entertainment, you need conflict right from the get-go to make it entertaining. They don't always explore that time from the time you get married to the end of it, so I think that it's unusual in that this is an exploration of that kind of intimacy, and intimacy without an imposed conflict."
She adds, "I think there's a reason that people couple up and want to have a partner and go through life together. And I think this is an exploration of the value of that."
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