J.J. Abrams wasn’t sure how Stephen King would react to Castle Rock pitch

Although Castle Rock is billed as a Stephen King series, it isn’t actually an adaptation of any particular Stephen King story, instead, it will combine elements from many different stories in the King-Multiverse for something entirely new. When series creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason (Manhattan) approached J.J. Abrams to pitch the series, Abrams immediately knew that it was something he wanted to see. “The conceit of a different dimension that connected Steve’s work just immediately felt to me like the richest fertile ground for stories that are completely fresh for people who aren’t avid fans, and yet for those who are, there would just be this entirely different level of resonance,” Abrams told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview.

As executive-producer, it also fell to J.J. Abrams to get the approval of Stephen King, but Abrams told EW that he wasn’t entirely sure how the author would react to a project which wasn’t a direct adaptation of any of his stories.

I was not certain that he would want it. I was not sure what his reaction would be, and I thought that maybe Stephen would feel like this would be too unpredictable a thing, that it wasn’t going to be a literal adaptation. Instead, he, it seems, had the same enthusiastic reaction that I did, which is that it sounded delicious. When you look at his work, you see the connections in his novels, the way he references characters or locations or events — it’s already there, that tapestry. [Castle Rock] lives and breathes in a world that he created.

As for Abrams, he had his own concerns before even bringing the pitch to Stephen King, mainly regarding making sure that they would be able to live up to the standards that the idea deserved “How do we get the right people for this thing, both on the network side and creatively on screen? I don’t think we could have been luckier,” Abrams said. “The cautionary tale versions are all over the place, and this was too important to me.” Castle Rock does boast quite the impressive cast, including André Holland (The Knick), Bill Skarsgård (IT), Melanie Lynskey (I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE), Scott Glenn (The Leftovers), Jane Levy (EVIL DEAD), Terry O’Quinn (Lost), and Sissy Spacek (CARRIE).

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Before turning to feature-films such as MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III and STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, J.J. Abrams was mainly involved with television, but it’s been some time since Abrams last directed on the small-screen, and even though it’s very much something he wants to return to, he just can’t find the time at the moment thanks to STAR WARS: EPISODE IX.

There’s a series we’re doing for HBO called Demimonde that I’m incredibly excited about and was planning on directing, and then [Star Wars] Episode IX happened, so I’m not going to be doing that pilot. It was something I was dying to do, so I’ll produce it and work with whoever the director ends up being. I would love to do television. I miss it.

Castle Rock will debut on Hulu on July 25th, so be sure to check out a review from our own Alex Maidy!