Doctor Sleep Director on Recasting The Shining Characters

The Shining hit theaters in 1980, bringing Stephen King's terrifying novel to life on the big screen. Throughout the film, Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd would portray characters plagued with terrible hauntings in the Overlook Hotel. Nearly 40 years later, King's Doctor Sleep sequel novel is going to theaters under the same title, following up on the events of The Shining. For director Mike Flanagan, flashbacks to the events of The Shining in his Doctor Sleep were inevitable, which meant he was burdened with the tremendous pressure of recasting the iconic characters nearly four decades later -- something he opened up about in an interview with

"That was the hardest part of this, I think, because the only other option is to do some kind of digital thing where you try to recreate another actor and I don't feel like the technology is quite there yet," Flanagan said. "It always distracts me and I always start looking at the tech, so I didn't wanna do that."

At the same time, Flanagan did not want to try to replicate what was already an iconic cornerstone in the horror genre. "I didn't want people to come in and do an impression, I waned people to come in and do their version of Wendy Torrance or Dick Hallorann," Flanagan said. "Because we're using so much of the visual language of the [Stanley] Kubrick film, I wanted these actors to remind me of Shelley Duvall and of Scatman Crothers and that was enough, if they could have just a couple of notes that reminded me of those other actors and then, take the character over from there into a new place, that's what I wanted. I hope we pulled that off. It's gonna be one of the more controversial aspects of the movie, to be sure."

Not only was Flanagan burdened with recasting the original actors but he also had to adapt a precious novel and choosing what will fit into his 2.5 hour run time. "Whenever I'm doing an adaptation, I keep the book open next to me while I'm writing and I go through and I highlight everything in the book that I wanna make sure, even if it's a line of prose or a line of dialogue, everything in there that I wanna make sure is gonna survive into the screenplay," Flanagan said. "But the big question is always, 'What are the fans going to want?' In this case, there were two kind of disparate groups of fans and it was like, what are the Kubrick fans gonna expect, what are the King fans gonna expect? Those camps, some of them have been at odds for a really long time over this very property. At that point, it was really like, how do we give enough to one side, to the other side to try to bring them together."

While audiences seem to have enjoyed their advanced screenings of Doctor Sleep, the most important critic of all did enjoy the film. Stephen King is a fan of Flanagan's Doctor Sleep movie. "He loves it," Flanagan said, "and I had the completely surreal and unbelievably stressful experience of sitting next to him in the theater and watching it with him."


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Doctor Sleep hits theaters on November 8.