SFX|Holiday Special 2020

THE UPCOMING NINE-EPISODE miniseries The Stand arrives feeling eerily relevant. Based on Stephen King’s sprawling 1978 novel of the same name, this epic tale takes place in a landscape ravaged by a mysterious virus that has wiped out 99% of the planet’s population. Production commenced on 19 September 2019 in Vancouver and wrapped early in March 2020, just before the Covid-19 outbreak caused everything and everyone to lock down. As the number of infected people continues to skyrocket, showrunner Benjamin Cavell admits that the pandemic could affect the audience’s viewing experience.

“Obviously, we’ve wondered about that,” Cavell tells SFX. “The answer is it’s impossible to predict. But for me, The Stand is not really about a pandemic. The pandemic is the mechanism by which the world gets emptied out and our characters find themselves as the only people left. They come together for this existential struggle between good and evil for what’s left and who gets to rebuild.

The hope is that you are able to make this thing our own, which I think we have done

“It’s also why we’ve chosen to tell the story in a non-linear way,” he adds. “Unlike the book, unlike the original 1994 miniseries, we are not going completely in chronological order and making people sit through episode after episode of the world dying. That’s not what we are doing. It’s this story that comes after all that. As Stephen King has said, this is his attempt to do The Lord Of The Rings in the United States.”

In the wake of the plague, The Stand finds two factions on the rise. Prompted by dreams of 108-year-old prophet Mother Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg), a handful of survivors begin to assemble in Boulder, Colorado, to support the forces of good, rebuild civilisation from the ground up and oppose a growing evil in Las Vegas. Stuart Redman (James Marsden), an individual displaying a strong moral compass, and one of the few immune to the virus, leads the charge.

“In some ways, Stu is the most straightforwardly good guy in our series,” Cavell says. “He does seem to be without malice. I think Stu is probably the least torn between good and evil of any of the people, except Tom [Brad William Henke]. Stu is our good guy, but he’s certainly cynical because that’s what life has taught him to be. And he’s very cynical about the government.

“In our telling, he is a veteran,” continues Cavell. “Stu got injured after a year in, so he has a very opinionated view of not just the military, but the government in general. He’s very distrustful and feels they don’t always have people’s best interests at heart, which I think is certainly true to the world of King, where the government is responsible for the manufacture of this virus.”

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