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Stephen King and Director Frank Darabont Talk The Mist

By — November 13th, 2007

Movie PictureAt a press conference for the highly anticipated film The Mist by Academy Award nominated director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption), Stephen King, whose novella the film is based on, gave his blessing of the film adaptation as well as sent out a chilling message to anyone who dares to give away the film's ending.

Stephen King stated, "Frank wrote a new ending that I loved. It is the most shocking ending ever and there should be a law passed stating that anybody who reveals the last 5 minutes of this film should be hung from their neck until dead."

Announcer: Hello everyone and welcome to The Mist press conference today. We are honored to have Stephen King and Frank Darabont.

Stephen King: Thank you, thank you.

Frank Darabont: We're happy to be here.

Announcer: Don't forget, The Mist opens on November 21st, and we're going to start right here.

Stephen, from what I understood yesterday, somebody said you wrote this novella during the Vietnam War. And I said well wait, it wasn't published until the 80's I thought, and it seems so much like a story for today. And they said well you write things, and you put them in a drawer, and then you bring them out years later and publish them. Can you talk about the origins of the story, and, you know, what you see it as being so right for 2007.

Stephen King: Well it wasn't during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was over by the time that I, I wrote it. Uh, a friend of mine, Kirby McCauley, was putting together an anthology called "Dark Forces," and he wanted all these original stories from people who wrote (clears throat) in the field, in the genre. And uh, I said, "You know, Kirby, I don't think I can do that because I'm blocked, I'm not writing anything." And I hadn't, I had finished like three books. There was Carrie, there was Salem's Lot, there was Night Shift, and I was kind of stuck really, and uh, I happened to be in the local market one time and uh, a lot of people were shopping, little town market, and I looked at the front windows and I thought you know, if something bad happened those windows would all bowl in, because that's the way I think. It's not necessarily a good thing, but it's been a profitable thing over the years. And uh, I thought about -- mulled it over, and this story came out of it, and I've always been grateful to The Mist because it kind of broke me out of a place where I couldn't seem to do anything, and this story just came very, very naturally, and in terms of Vietnam or any other conflict, if you're writing seriously, by which I mean trying as hard as you can, the issues that are in your mind, the things you've been through are all going to play a part.

In the sort of the attack on fundamentalism that the movie seems to be talking about, very likely that was there back then?

Stephen King: Well Mrs. Carmody was there back then, and Mrs. Carmody in Frank's movie is very much the Mrs. Carmody that was in the story, and uh, you know, I don't want to go out and make political statements. I'm a story teller, and Frank's a story teller, and that's, that's what we do. But I've said before, and I'll say again, that if you're trying to do your best work, uh, these things are going to come up, they're going to become part of the story, and, and uh, people are going to ask questions about it. Is The Mist a political story? Is The Mist a story that has to do with the dangers of entrenched religion, fundamentalist religion? Is The Mist a story about red vs. blue? I'm not going to answer any of those questions. You go see the movies, and those, those questions will come up and maybe you'll discuss them. If it serves as a springboard, that's great.

Fear has played such a major role in your work, I wonder whether you have had in your thinking uh, a progressive notion about fear. How has the notion of fear evolved uh, in your mind, and how do you apply that in your work? (overlap)

Stephen King: Fear is a survival function, right? If you're afraid of certain things, uh, walking down the center line of a highway at night, going out in hunting season in Maine which is what's going on now, and you're not dressed in something that's red, or orange, there's always -- you're afraid that you might get shot. So I think of fear as a survival function, and in the stories that I write, the only thing that I've tried to do is provide people with nightmares which are really safe places to put those fears for a while because you can say afterwards that uh, that, that well it was all just make-believe anyway, so I just took my emotions for a walk. Uh, and this is a negative emotion uh, it's a kind of a pit-bull in the human mind, and it needs to have a place to walk, and it needs to be petted every now and then too, and that's what these stories try to do. And a lot of you have seen the movie, maybe all of you, and you know that these people are trapped in a supermarket, and things happen to them that are inexplicable or not normal, but sooner or later every one of us faces those things in our own life. You might call it cancer instead of things in the mist, uh, but we're all afraid of those things, and it seems valid to me to explore them. But if I have any more ideas about fear, just that I'm glad I do what I do because it's allowed me to sort of vent a lot of this stuff and get paid for it whereas people -- I've said this before -- who go to shrinks pay them. This is a -- this is a win-win for me.

(unintelligible) When we were talking to Frank before we were talking about the fact that the story sort of straddles between science fiction and the supernatural. Your story is a bit more supernatural, this is -- I think has a bit more of a science fiction bent. Could both you talk about how you viewed it, and also Stephen, why didn't you produce -- be involved in the production of this film?

Stephen King: I was writing the book. That's the short answer to that. And uh, in terms of the science fiction -- I've written a lot of stories that I think of as sort of science fiction, you know. And for me it always has to be sort of science fiction because I was a "C" chemistry student, and a "B-" physics student, so I was never a geek, and I never had a lot of those uh, those, those skills, or that, that knowledge base. But on the other hand, I saw a lot of movies in the 50's like The Thing, and Them, and I know that like radiation causes monsters, and most important of all I know that if we mess around too much with the unknown something awful will happen.

Frank Darabont: The first law of physics. Radiation makes monsters. Big ants. Uh, I, I did -- my answer to that question is, uh, you know, I love this stuff too. I mean I, I... we have a common uh, genetic predisposition towards loving these sorts of things. This is what brought me to this master's work in the first place 'cause I, 'cause I love this stuff. But to me it's all, it's the fun part, it's the trappings of -- is is a little science fiction? Yeah. It is a little horror? Hopefully it's a lot horror. But ultimately it's the core of the -- what makes him such a muscular master story teller is the fact that he's -- it never just evolves into the trappings. It's always about the human core of the story telling. It's always about that journey of the human condition uh, within his story telling. That's what makes it particularly valid, particularly relevant. And the discussion earlier of fear, how does that relate? It's an examination of fear. It's an examination of people operating in a pressure cooker of fear where fear replaces reason. Uh, that's why I've always loved this story. It wasn't so much about the uh, you know, the, the mist outside the windows with the groovy critters in it. It's about what the people are going through inside the market. And it winds up being pretty real, and pretty disturbing because there's nothing scarier than human nature and human behaviors. That's why I thought the thing had some muscle. And it's, you know, the thing -- it's about fearing fear itself, it's what does it do to people, how does it wig them out. How does it compel us, you know? Does it bring us together? Does it tear us apart? Do we make mistakes? So we sail off a precipice? This is pretty meaty stuff for a filmmaker, and I, I can't thank you enough for letting me make the movie.

Stephen King: Aw gee.

Frank Darabont: So there.

Mr. King, a two-part question. The first part kind of tie into each other. And that is for -- you're such a prolific writer, can you break down the process to uh, your readers about is it something that every morning -- I mean how do you work? What is your ritual? Do you write in long-hand? Is it a typewriter? What is your procedure for doing that? And second part is that a lot of writers get very uh, disenfranchised, so to speak, when Hollywood comes in and tries to turn one of their books into a movie. You've had very good success, and I'm sure there are movies that you're very frustrated with, and yet you've collaborated many times with Mr. Darabont. Can you talk about what he brings to your words that make you feel so comfortable in turning over your projects to him?

Frank Darabont: Tell them about your big wang.

Stephen King: Yeah, I actually did -- used to have a big wang, but of course I was younger then. It was a Wang word processor. Get your minds out of the gutter. I, I love to work with Frank. I've worked with Frank uh, well basically I don't work with Frank, I just basically stand aside and let Frank do his thing, and uh, the thing about Frank that I've always liked is that he still has a child's imagination coupled with an adult's ability to uh, see the core of the material and then execute his vision. So you've got a couple of things going on there that hook up together that you don't see in a lot of filmmakers. You do see it in some, uh, and they do good work. And Frank has always done good work. I feel very comfortable that I'm going to get something from Frank that's gonna be usually extraordinary. In my case, you know, he's done The Woman in the Room, which was a small film, he's done Shawshank, he's done The Green Mile, and he's done The Mist. And it isn't just me. I hear from other people all the time, they'll say I just loved those movies, you know. I ran in -- I gotta tell this story. I ran into a woman -- we live half the year down in Sarasota, and uh, my wife and I have worked out an agreement where she'll do the heavy shopping once a week, but she'll send me for the crap, you know, that she forgets and stuff. So I'm there in the supermarket one day and I've got my, my little cart, and I come around the corner and there's this woman -- I'm going to say she was about ninety-five, and she said, "I know who you are. You write those stories, those awful horror stories. I don't respect that. I don't like that. I like uplifting movies like that Shawshank Redemption." And I said, "I wrote that." And she said, "No you didn't." And that was it, she went on. So, you know, it's just uh -- but it's very much of a piece with... I like that too. "No you didn't." Talk about going surreal. And I'm thinking to myself, jeez, maybe I didn't, you know, for a minute. It's not very much like my other stuff, maybe I didn't write that one. But uh, Frank does good work. In terms of the writing schedule, keyboards and all that, uh... it doesn't really matter to me if I've got access to writing materials. It doesn't matter that much what the writing materials are. I have a regular schedule for writing that it's in the morning, and I've done it enough years so that those things turn on. The real trick is it's nice to have two or three ideas that are worth working on, then that's something that you can't always depend on having. Usually god's been good to me, I've had a lot of interesting ideas. I've had a lot of fun.

What satisfies you being with Frank? What about the other movies that other filmmakers have made from your work? Has there been frustration for you?

Stephen King: No, there's never been any frustration. Either they're good or they're bad, and if they're bad I just kind of laugh, you know. It uh -- there's a story about the college newspaper reporter who came to see James M. Kane toward the end of his life, and the young reporter was bemoaning what Hollywood had done to his books, and Kane whipped right around in his chair and pointed at the (unintelligible) and said, "They haven't done a damn thing, son, they're all right up there." And that's the case. I'm always interested to see what's going to happen when you beat the pinata. And it's always a little bit different sometimes. It's good, sometimes, oh you know, sometimes it's... "Children of the Corn." You just can't tell what's going to happen. But I'm always interested to see.

What was the book you were doing that you couldn't do this movie with Frank?

Stephen King: It's called "Dew McKee." It's going to be out in January, and they make wonderful presents.

(unintelligible) I'd like to know actually from both of you, when you write a story like this or make a film, how much are you influenced by say by literature, or films, or theater, because I mean...stories, there are four or five things that you can tell in a story, so everybody in a way (unintelligible) unconsciously, but when they are on in the supermarket, and they discuss, and you have the Mrs. Carmody and the others (unintelligible) the fear is outside, and there is a (unintelligible) discussing the others -- things that you -- I mean have you ever sort of been influenced by such things?

Stephen King: I haven't read "Rhinoceros," but I'm flattered at the comparison to Ionesco, even if it's just coincidental. But uh, I just get the idea and work on the story, and I don't really worry a lot about influences. I'm sure that I am influenced. Uh, but I don't. I think the best way to deal with that is just, you know, forge ahead and write that (unintelligible).

Frank Darabont: I think we're all influenced as any story teller is probably influenced by the things that, that came before. It doesn't kind of dribble into the DNA of what you do? And sometimes it's completely unconscious, but uh, certainly he's been an influence on me. I think you've been an influence on a lot of people. You're, you're... you're -- your mojo -- a lot of people have tried to copy it through the years. Nobody's, nobody's equaled it though.

Stephen King: Well I'm, I'm a child of my -- everything that I've read really since probably -- the biggest influence on my life is gonna be a movie in December, I am Legend by Richard Matheson, and Matheson -- I mean I've read Poe and (overlap) and all those guys, and I thought that they were good, but I didn't have that kind of visceral connection where I thought oh yeah, this guy is doing it on my block, I like that.

Frank Darabont: That's one of my top five favorite books.

Stephen King: I love that.

Frank Darabont: It's high on the list.

Stephen King: And it's on the best seller list again now too.

Frank Darabont: Is it really?

Stephen King: Yeah.

Frank Darabont: Oh good, they're reading the book 'cause -- does it really look like I Am Legend or does it look like kind of a remake of The Omega Man?

Stephen King: I haven't seen the movie, they're reading the book.

Frank Darabont: Yeah, that's great, that's awesome. I can't wait to see it actually.

I'm wondering what are your biggest fears?

Frank Darabont: Oh, people. People. Check out the 21st century so far. I'm afraid it's going to make the 20th look like the Romper Room. And you know, there's nothing that scares me more than what people are capable of, and uh, this is actually what this movie is about. This is -- the gentleman here said it seems like a very timely and relevant thing. To me it's a rather timeless thing to say. It goes back to Greek tragedy, you know, what are people capable of when they are influenced by lack of reason and fear. Uh, that's what scares me. The other stuff -- you're taking out the pit-bull and petting it, and taking it for a walk, you know. It's the fun stuff. You exercise the terror mechanism. This gentleman has made a great, great career and a legendary name for himself doing that. That's the -- that's the fun part, you know, the controlled experiment in fear. What really scares me is the uncontrolled realities of it.

Stephen King: I'm afraid of everything. It shows in my work. Elevators, uh, cars. One of the things -- the thing that started the new book was basically uh, uh, a combination of an accident that I had and a truck that was backing up and the beeper was broken, and somebody said, "Look out!" and a whole big long novel came out of that. But I'm with Frank on this and that's one of the reasons why I love this movie was because, you know, it was a little bit like having somebody scratch a place on the middle of my back that I couldn't reach myself. I mean every night when I go to bed and nobody popped a rogue nuke somewhere in the world, I feel this sort of combination of I don't believe we escaped for another day, and gratitude because we did escape for another day. Because there's so much of that stuff out there. And I've written a lot of different things about that from "The Stand" to The Mist where you say a lot of people out there, they're afraid, they're angry because fear and anger go hand-in-hand. They're the original sin version of the Bobsy Twins, you know, fear and anger. And uh, when they do there's always somebody to say well we had the answer, we had the only answer because whatever the religion might happen to be, they're the ones who say we have the only answer, so let's get down on our knees and pray about it, and then on your way out there's guns in the vestry.

Frank Darabont: And do as you're told or we'll kick your ass.

Stephen King: That's right, or we'll kick your ass because our god's bigger than your god. Now I'm not saying The Mist is about those things, because that's for you to decide, but I'm not saying that it's not. To a degree it's about big bugs too, and we don't want to (overlap)

Frank Darabont: Yeah baby. We love the big bugs.

Stephen King: That's right.

(unintelligible) Mr. King, it's great to see your movie and your books and stories back in theaters for the first time in a while. I wanted to ask about the decision whether or not to make stories into movies or t.v. mini-series, and also is there any stories of yours which you still would like to get made, or (unintelligible) happy with either for t.v. or for movies?

Stephen King: First of all I think it's good to see my movies back again too. They were in rehab for a while, but they're better now. No, I mean... whenever anybody talks to me, whether it's uh, a version of -- a musical version of Carrie or whether it's... there have been two, you know, play versions of Carrie. One was great, and the other was so weirdly bad that it was great too. It sort of was. So whenever anybody nods to try I'm sort of up for that, uh, as long as they make a minimal amount of sense.

(unintelligible)

Stephen King: Uh... no. I mean I'm happy. If nobody else came along and wanted to make another movie, I could live with that, but I'm hoping that Frank and I can work together again at least four more times.

Frank Darabont: Yeah. I'm waiting for the next prison story.

Stephen King: I thought The Mist was sort of a prison story.

Frank Darabont: Well it is, yeah. We need another one man. It is, it is. Of course, of course it winds up being kind of a prison story doesn't it?

Stephen King: Sure, yeah.

Question for Steve, and I know that uh, yeah, I know that uh.. Frank wrote the ending for you in such -- and endings are always you know, big part of any story, so I just wonder about your reaction when you first read that ending.

Stephen King: I loved it. I loved it. It puts a button on it. The story -- you know, and I thought about this when I wrote the story, if you guys have got it you'll see that, that Frank has been very faithful to the story, and we -- and jump in here any time that I get it wrong, big boy.

Frank Darabont: Okay, yeah.

Stephen King: But when Frank and I talked about The Mist, he would always say to me, you know, it's gotta have a strong ending.

Frank Darabont: And you would say the same thing to me from time to time.

Stephen King: That's right. And he -- what we were too kind to say to each other was that the story has -- I won't say it's a weak ending exactly, but it was the kind of ending that my late mother didn't respect. She called them "Alfred Hitchcock" endings, you know, and you were kind of left to make up your own mind. She had nothing but contempt for that. And so Frank came up with an ending to the movie that I thought was terrific on the page, and the only time that I ever wavered even slightly was when I actually saw it, and I said to myself, this is so shocking that there ought to be ads in the newspaper that say if you reveal the last five minutes of this movie you'll be hung by the neck until death because that's the one thing that I hate about the internet age is all that stuff goes out.

Frank Darabont: Me too, me too.

Stephen King, How do you feel about this adaptation compared to Frank's other three?

Stephen King: I love it. Frank does good work, and uh, this thing has a different look, it has almost -- I don't want to sound like a critic, but it's, it's a wonderful sort of documentary feel. It's separated from the other field of uh, horror suspense movies of the last couple of years because of that, that documentary feel. It has a sense of The Twilight Zones that I loved when I was a kid, "The Outer Limits" episodes that I loved as a kid. But also you know, here's a movie that was made by an adult. It's not -- I'm not going to name any names, but it isn't part of this (unintelligible) pack young guys who haven't quite, you know, come to a realization yet that this is as serious as any other genre. So you've got a picture that asks some serious questions. If people want to ask them, or if they just want to have a good time. Uh, it's there too. But it has a wonderful realistic look that I was just crazy about, and Frank also has a number of different actors that he's worked with over the years. Some of them are in the movie. Jeffrey DeMunn who's always been a favorite of mine to the point where he's recorded some of my books on tape. Love Thomas Jane, always have.

Frank Darabont: Bill Sadler who was...

Stephen King: Bill Sadler, right.

Frank Darabont: ... who played the Thomas Jane role in the audio book of The Mist, god knows how many years ago.

Stephen King: It's amazing. And Marcia Gay Harden. So what's not to like... for me?

Frank, you talked about the sort of limited budget that you worked with here.

Frank Darabont: Oh yeah.

And I was wondering if Stephen could address -- there's a certain quality that comes through working within that restricted budget. Do you have an affection for films that uh, that, that are, you know, based on sort of economy, and getting as much as you can out of that, out of that small amount of money?

Frank Darabont: Yeah, absolutely. In fact I was anxious to embrace that aesthetic. Some of my all-time favorite movies in the genre, the most muscular things, Night of the Living Dead, for example...

Stephen King:Night of the Living Dead,...

Frank Darabont: Came out of -- came out of very limited resources.

Stephen King: Which project? (overlap) Really disturbing.

Frank Darabont: There's some muscularity to that sometimes that you can capture.

Stephen King:Texas Chainsaw.

Frank Darabont: Yes, absolutely.

Stephen King: (overlap) Like Joe Bob Briggs used to say, "The Texas critic ain't nothing better than Saw."

Frank Darabont: Joe Bob.

Stephen King: Joe Bob, yeah.

Frank Darabont: I haven't seen him in years. No, I really wanted -- I wanted to embrace that aesthetic because I felt that this, this had a real uh, sort of ballsy muscularity, this story. I would have to say, to categorize Shawshank as a different kind of story for you. I would dispute that because the commonality here is Steve King never lets you down in terms of, of writing a muscular, human story. Whatever the trappings, whatever the settings are, whatever the specifics of the story are, it comes from that story telling muscle, you know, which is why I think this guy single-handedly took horror out of the ghetto of literature and put it into the mainstream. I have said, let me, let me, let me just compliment you here, I have said you never saw grandmas in an airport lounge reading a horror novel until Stephen King came along and brought the story telling values of a real writer to the genre and elevated it. And we have him to thank for that.

Stephen King: I try to put real people in stories. I would like to be able to do that, to put real people who are not clich&#233s, who are not just you know, this deep. I'd like some texture in my stuff, you know. And Frank has always respected that, and this is a movie -- you could categorize it as a horror movie. I never tell anybody what to do about that. Call it whatever you want to, but please, they're real people in that supermarket, and you get a real sense of, of uh... human people. And it's not "Friday the 13th part 6." It's got a more texture than that.

I'm curious about the role of the military in The Mist. The whole concept -- we're given a notion that perhaps this is a great accident that's been caused because of experimentation on the part of the military, and then in the end the military sort of rolls on in and uh, we're the flame throwers which is not really (overlap)...

Frank Darabont: Well let's not give that away. (overlap) Let's not give away any plot points.

Oh. Ouch. Okay. Uh, anyway, the role of the military in this film.

Stephen King: Flame throwers, but that's not exactly the end.

No, it is not the end. It was not actually.

Frank Darabont: The role of the military is incidental. Again, I have to -- in the role of the creatures, honestly, is incidental. To me it's all context for the story that's being told which is that super heated character ensemble of people who have the -- are getting the hell scared out of them, and colliding like pinballs. I mean that's, that's the uh, that's the physics of the story that Steve set in motion, and that's what really attracted me to it. It's that what happens when the thin veneer of civilization is laid aside and people are scared, and they lose their reason, and their ability to have a rational conversation. It makes it pretty timely, it makes it pretty relevant. It also makes for just damn good story telling. That's why I always loved the story.

Stephen King: When I was writing the story originally it certainly crossed my mind. It isn't even a conscious thought. It's almost like something that's gone through and been absorbed into your imagination and your subconscious is the idea that we're all sort of puppets. There are a lot of people fooling around with a lot of things, and we don't have any say, we don't -- in a lot of cases even though what they're up to. Apparently AT&T and some of these other companies were listening in people's phone calls long before it started to be a political issue, and they have that technology, and they can do it. So it's just... we, we couldn't very well call it the collateral damage market, but in a sense you know, there's something going on, and these people are not responsible for it. They're would you say caught in the middle.

Frank Darabont: Yeah, well the reasonable people are always caught in the middle, caught in the middle of a lot of machinations, and a lot of which I'm sure we don't know about. That makes me paranoid, and who was it that says sometimes we're not paranoid enough. I think that's probably true.

Stephen King: You're not paranoid if they really are after you.

Frank Darabont: And they are, Steve, they're after you.

Stephen King: But I have my tin foil hat, Frank. Takes care of a lot of things.

Frank Darabont: I'm wearing my tin foil underwear right now. It's a lacy little number, and you're receiving signals from somewhere. Sorry.

Mr. King I'm just wondering -- it's a hard one because you're probably way too close to it to answer this, but how would you say your writing has evolved over the years? Frank you were talking about this the other day that this is an angry film for you, as an angry filmmaker, and this was the perfect, you know, cathartic outlet for it. I'm just wondering for you, Steve, has your writing gotten angry over the years, softer over the years? What's your thought, and then for you, Mr. Darabont, I'm just wondering what book of Stephen King's have you not done yet that you want to do and why?

Stephen King: Oh good question. Be thinking about that. I want to hear that. First thing that crossed my mind when you said how's my writing evolved, I say probably I know two or three thousand more words than I did when I was twenty-four, so my vocabulary's improved a little bit. No, I'm not as angry as I used to be because I'm not twenty-five anymore, I'm sixty, and uh, that, you know, that'll kick your ass every time. There's an Elvis Costello song that says uh, "I used to be angry now I'm just amused," or something like that. And I'm not amused, but there's a little more, a little more despair in some of the works than there used to be. In that sense The Mist is actually a fairly mature work in that it's, it's darker than some of the other stuff. I'm still just trying to tell good stories, and find a way to do that, and not repeat myself uh, and not fall into a rut and furnish it and find new ways to do, to do things. And (sighs) I guess that's it.

Frank Darabont: Well he's getting, he's getting less angry as he gets older, I'm getting more and more pissed off. I always had this uh -- you know, and there is still the sunny optimist in me. He's just getting a little beat up lately. You know, uh, when I was younger I always had this notion that, you know, we can pretty much work anything out. But I've realized as I get older that that takes some good will on the part of the people who are doing the talking, or not doing the talking, as the case may be. And it's just making me kind of angrier. If you...

Stephen King: If you get his emails...

Frank Darabont: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I'll rant. I'll rant on occasion. I uh, I don't think, I don't think there's anything we can't work out, but we seem to be determined not to. And in a way that's kind of -- that's... kind of -- that kind of feeds back into The Mist as a story. Uh...you know, I'm, I'm, I'm clinging to hope but it's not the easiest thing in the world to do. I'm stuck in that -- I'm stuck in the middle of that argument that Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman had at the mess hall table, you know. Is hope a good thing or is it just stupid, you know. I'm, I'm right in the middle of that equation. The pleasure of doing what we do for a living is that we can, we can work some of this stuff out in our work, we can tell stories, or co-opt a great story to express those things.

(unintelligible)

Frank Darabont: Probably the weirdest story Steve ever wrote uh...or your pal, Mr. Barkman wrote... it's called "The Long Walk."

Stephen King: Oh yeah.

Frank Darabont: And that -- did you not start -- I've been meaning to ask you, didn't you start writing that when you were in high school?

Stephen King: I was in college.

Frank Darabont: You were in college?

Stephen King: I was a freshman.

Frank Darabont: This is amazingly uh... mature work for a kid who was in college. That I do believe was in the shadow of Vietnam, wasn't it?

Stephen King: Um hmm. Oh yeah, very much. That was started in uh, '67 so it was right...(overlap)

Frank Darabont: Yeah. It's uh, it's pretty amazing stuff. And that influence is there for sure.

Stephen King: The one that got started in high school is not in print anymore. It's called "Rage."

Frank Darabont: (overlap) "Rage," yes. I know, I've read it.

You just referenced Elvis Costello. You are legendarily an enormous rock'n'roll fan. Do you have much faith left in the uh, the genre, and are you finding new things to listen to?

Stephen King: Yeah, I always find new things to listen to. I just downloaded a great -- but you know it's funny, I think of what I'm going to say, what I just downloaded that I'm crazy about is a live album of a Raspberries reunion concert in Beverly Hills, and the Raspberries were a pop group, power pop group in the 70's, and uh, they're all looking their age, they sound great. But you know, the new Steve Earl record is great. That's an album by uh, The Thrills, uh, that's really great. So I find stuff to listen to but rock'n'roll is now the new jazz. It's divided up into a lot of different areas, and it's become a specialty taste. It's played on specialty stations, college FMs, that sort of thing. There's no more mainstream rock as we know it so that if the Rolling Stones or Tom Petty uh, release a new record on your local FM that has this spuriously friendly name of a man, it would be like "Frank FM," you know, "Jack FM," whatever. They'll play... (overlap) yeah, right. They'll play "No Satisfaction" and then they'll say in passing, "Oh by the way, the Stones have a new record, but we're not going to play it because we know you only want to hear that old shit." So... there you are. But yeah, rock's okay. I listen to a lot more sort of all country now because it's sort of like the rock that I remember but it's new. People like Ray Wiley Hubbard, and uh, Cross Canadian Ragweed. People like that.

Stephen King, you directed only one movie, Maximum Overdrive. I think it shows up on TV every other week still. Will you ever direct one again? Would you like to do two movies at least?

Stephen King: I'd never say never. I think it would be great sometime to direct a movie when I wasn't cocked and drunk out of my mind and see what came out. But uh, I'm not -- I'm not crazy to do it. But what I miss, okay, what I really regret is Frank asked me uh, if I would act in The Mist, and I for one reason or another I wasn't able to do it. But damn I kick myself.

Frank Darabont: I know, we missed you, we missed you.

Stephen King: (unintelligible)

Frank Darabont: The biker. I wanted him to play the biker. I wanted him to grow his beard out, get that shaggy Steve King look and, and have him read.

Stephen King: I've got a shotgun in my truck. I'll try for it if you want me to. I was ready, I was ready.

Frank Darabont: Yeah, we were -- I was gonna, I was gonna -- wound up being the role that Brian Libby played. And Brian was in the very first Stephen King piece that I directed, that little short film (unintelligible) when I was in my early twenties, and he was in Shawshank, and he was in "Green Mile." So oddly enough I missed you, and I'm sorry you weren't able to come do it. It was (overlap) Brian back on the set.

Stephen King: And he was a professional, and I'm really not. So...

Frank Darabont: Yeah, but you would have kicked ass.

Stephen King: Yeah, I would have tried.

Frank Darabont: Yeah.

Alright guys, you mentioned Richard Matheson. You're going to get slapped around now. Richard Matheson is a great choice, but what are some of the other writers in science fiction, horror, that you consider "A" people you're still excited about, or new people that you're excited about, and Stephen, having -- splitting your time between Florida and Maine, how does that change the location for you in terms of your stories since location has often played so much a part?

Stephen King: Well the new book uh, has a Florida setting, but we've been going back and forth to Florida ten years and I still feel tentative about it. Uh, it takes a while to get the texture of a place, and uh... so I've kind of get my, you know, mental blast shield down about that. But writers, uh... Richard Matheson was the first one who really influenced me. Robert Block was another one. Today uh...Jack Ketchum, Bentley Little, uh, I read across a wide spectrum. I don't just read horror, that would be kind of boring. But there are a lot of different people that I really like. Uh, Kelly Link is great. I really like Kelly Link. She doesn't work that field specifically but I like her stuff a lot.

Frank Darabont: Well he's, I guess it goes without saying, he's been hugely influential to me as well as others. Uh, I love, I love his work. I revisit his books every few years. I'll pull another one off the shelf and revisit it. I just reread "Eyes of the Dragon," by the way, which was awesome.

Stephen King: Yeah, it's going to be a French cartoon.

Frank Darabont: Is it really? I want to know what happened to Dennis and Thomas.

Stephen King: (overlap) part of the Doc Tower story but it kind of got (overlap)

Frank Darabont: It felt like it sure could have been.

Stephen King: Yeah.

Frank Darabont: Yeah. That was -- that's awesome. I, I too uh, Matheson is....hugely iconic to me.

Stephen King: Remember Charles Beaumont?

Frank Darabont: Charles Beaumont. Amazing short story writer. He did a lot of uh, a lot of Twilight Zone work with Rod Serling. Rod Serling, amazingly influential writer.

Stephen King: Jack Finney.

Frank Darabont: Jack Finney.

Stephen King: "Body Snatcher" baby.

Frank Darabont: Paddy Chayefsky, a dramatist, is uh... uh, uh... you know, tattoo him in my brain because he was so inspiring to me. Uh... Ray Bradbury, a god. Uh, and uh, and a marvelous, marvelous human being. I've gotten to know him in the last seven years or so. Weird thing to get to know your icons. That's (overlap) your icons, and you become friends with them. It's awesome.

Stephen King: How about David Mamet? He writes the best dialogue.

Frank Darabont: Mamet's pretty muscular. Uh, our buddy David J. Scow. Not that many people know his work, but boy he's a muscular writer.

Stephen King's The Mist is in theaters next week!