For Stephen King fans, CBS All Access' new limited series The Stand has big shoes to fill. Not only is the book beloved by readers as well as critically acclaimed -- and even comes in two versions, the original 1978 version and an unabridged edition published in 1990 -- but the novel was previously adapted into a well-received miniseries in 1994 that featured a cast of more than 125 speaking roles along with performances by Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Jamey Sheridan, Laura San Giacomo, Ed Harris, and many more. And when it comes to those performances, Sinise's Stu Redman was especially stand out, even earning the actor a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. For James Marsden, who takes on the Stu Redman role in this new series, it was important to do right by not only Sinise's work, but King's novel as well.
Speaking with ComicBook.com, Marsden said that stepping into the role was "tricky" but that this new series is telling the story for a new generation.
"Gary kind of knocked it out of the park with that, in the miniseries, and Mick Garris [director of the 1994 miniseries] did a great job with it, with much less time, right? They had just a few hours and we have nine. But it's always tricky stepping into the shoes of someone else who's done a really incredible job with the trail," Marsden said. "I think that said, we've not updated it but we're retelling this story for a new generation and a new audience. It's just another interpretation of the book and so, obviously, I want to right by the character in the book and by Stephen King and Gary Sinise, everyone who's been a part of an iteration of this in the past."
Marsden went on to explain how adapting The Stand is a "Shakespearean" experience in that you can keep retelling the story with new actors because the character simply endures.
"I mean, you can almost get Shakespearean with it and that [King's] such a brilliant writer and his skills as a writer are just so beyond that you really can do it, like you could probably get a new cast for this thing every 10 years and retell this story but I think it's more about like, you know, I like this character of Stu Redman because he embodies all of the things that I feel like I could probably a bit more. He's got a really strong sense of what is right and wrong and not in a righteous way. He's a good man, he believes in decency and kindness and generosity and recognizes his flaws as well. I think those characters need to be celebrated a little more and so it's fun to step into his shoes."
The Stand stars Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abagail and Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flag, aka the Dark Man. The cast for the series also includes James Marsden as Stu Redman, Odessa Young as Frannie Goldsmith, Jovan Adepo as Larry Underwood, Amber Heard as Nadine Cross, Owen Teague as Harold Lauder, Henry Zaga as Nick Andros, Brad William Henke as Tom Cullen, Irene Bedard as Ray Brentner, Nat Wolff as Lloyd Henreid, Eion Bailey as Weizak, Heather Graham as Rita Blakemoor, Katherine McNamara as Julie Lawry, Fiona Dourif as Rat Woman, Natalie Martinez as Dayna Jurgens, Hamish Linklater as Dr. Jim Ellis, Daniel Sunjata as Cobb, and Greg Kinnear as Glen Bateman.
The first episode of The Stand, "The End", is now streaming on CBS All Access. New episodes arrive every Thursday.