Expect to see plenty of familiar Stephen King properties fitting into the world of Castle Rock, a Hulu original series that is inspired by the horror writer's iconic works. The cast and creators of Castle Rock assembled at New York Comic Con to promote the new show, which premieres on Hulu in 2018.
Castle Rock debuted a new trailer at NYCC that ended with a pointed shot of a car sinking into a lake with a sticker on the back that says, "Department of Corrections, Shawshank." This big reveal confirms that Shawshank Prison, featured in King's Shawshank Redemption, will play a key role in the new project.
Shawshank Prison becomes a key part of Castle Rock when Andre Holland's character Henry, a death row attorney, is brought back to Castle Rock because of "an unusual case" at the prison. There he works with Bill Skarsgard's character, the mysterious, imprisoned "the Kid," though the cast was unable to get into the details of their relationship.
The series is shooting Shawshank Prison on location at a real penitentiary, including real solitary cells, which for Skarsgard has been an unsettling experience. "I don't really believe in ghosts, but there was something off about that place," he said.
Castle Rock is a significant town across King's multiverse of stories, which EP Sam Shaw described as the "world capital of nightmares and dreamscapes." Though the show will pull in recognizable places and characters from King's work, it is an original story. This isn't the first time that King has been approached to have people make their own project based on his novels and films, but it is the first one that he's greenlit, which is an honor not lost on Shaw and his fellow EP Dustin Thomason.
"Stephen has been incredibly supportive. He's been open to all sorts of changes and improvisations, and also [allowed us] to use these iconic characters and locations that we never thought we could use. He's been incredibly supportive and a great collaborator," said Thomason. "The idea of being able to write about this town that Stephen King was writing about for 30 years was a dream come true."
Castle Rock will reward fans of King's work with Easter eggs and references, while also standing on its own for people who aren't die-hard fans -- which star Sissy Spacek was adamant it succeeds at. "There are a lot of ideas and tropes and themes that recur throughout Stephen King's library that we tried to metabolize and [work into our show]," said Shaw. "No one had a good childhood in Stephen King's work. There's a lot of trauma from childhood [returning] as an adult."
As for whether the series gets into the supernatural parts of King's work, Thomason said, "A lot of really terrible things have happened to the town of Castle Rock. ... To try to make sense of them and figure out what's supernatural and what's dumb luck ... is part of the fabric of the mystery story that unfolds. It's not lost on us that things tend to get pretty bonkers in the world of Stephen King, and we like bonkers too."
Seeing the cast line up, it's clear that the creators of Castle Rock are taking inspiration from King's films by borrowing the actors from them. Castle Rock stars Spacek (Carrie), Skarsgard (IT) and Melanie Lynskey (Rose Red), all of whom have had notable roles in King's works in the past.
"It was so incredibly gratifying to put this cast together," said executive producer Sam Shaw. "It's hugely exciting for us to live in this Stephen King sandbox and do it with these actors."
In terms of getting Spacek for Castle Rock, Shaw explained that they were looking for a "Sissy Spacek-type," and were lucky enough to get Carrie herself for the show.
"I was afraid that I might not ever have the opportunity to do something as twisted as this. It's kind of an homage to Stephen King, and I certainly owe Stephen King a lot," acknowledged Spacek. "I haven't been able to shake that film [Carrie] off for 40 years. I get to have my period every year for some 13-year-olds! This role in Castle Rock is certainly very different than that."
Skarsgard, who recently had a breakout role as Pennywise in the 2017 blockbuster IT, said he initially was "a little bit hesitant" going into Castle Rock, "because I just did IT, and I didn't want to become too familiarized with the world. But then I read the pilot, and it's spectacular. It so captivated me. I love the character, it's so mysterious. ... It's just something completely different. Obviously, it's the same genre and [tone] as Stephen King, but it's so different from Pennywise."
For more of IGN's New York Comic Con coverage, make sure to check out our review of Ash vs Evil Dead's Season 3 premiere, as well as the first looks at two of Black Mirror's Season 4 episodes: "USS Callister" and "Arkangel."
Terri Schwartz is Editorial Manager of Entertainment at IGN. Talk to her on Twitter at @Terri_Schwartz.