There are times when Stephen King novels work on both big and small screens. The author admitted that "Shawshank Redemption," "Misery," "Stand By Me," "The Mist," "Cujo" and "Storm of the Century" are his favourite adaptations, but cringed to reporters he met with in Wilmington, N.C., when "Maximum Overdrive" was mentioned (he even covered his face in not-so-pretend shame when the 1986 movie -- based on his '73 short story "Trucks" -- is applauded by some of the lucky residents of the coastal town who attended the red-carpet premiere).
That's because "Maximum Overdrive" (somewhere, King is shuddering) was filmed in Wilmington, as is his latest offering, "Under the Dome." But King "is comfortable" with what's being done to it because it works well as both a miniseries and a long-running drama, even calling the cast the best he's ever worked with. A bold statement coming from the writing legend, but the CBS and Global show, which was developed for TV by Brian K. Vaughan ("Lost"), definitely lives up to its promise. It will freak your freak -- in a good way. "Under the Dome," which counts Vaughan, fellow "Lost" alum Jack Bender, Neal Baer ("Law & Order: SVU") and Steven Spielberg among its executive producers, is not only one of the best suspense series around, but it remains mysterious because even if you've read the 1,074-page tome, it's very different than what will be unveiled on-screen.
If you don't know what "Under the Dome" is about, then, well, have you been living under a dome? Nutshell: the sleepy town of Chester's Mill is enclosed by an invisible, energized dome separating itself from the rest of society. It raises many questions, first and foremost -- why? Is it a social experiment? Something more alien? Whatever it is, the dome dropped on the right village, because what happens becomes a certain kind of hell for those trapped inside. Not only because they're left with meager resources, but those who are cut off from the world are no longer innocent townsfolk. They've got secrets -- and when those secrets start catching up to them, things get creepy (well, creepier) under there.
What will happen to those stuck under the dome? I'll let them answer that question. I got a chance to chat with some of the cast on the set (the Sweetbriar Rose diner, to be specific) and the actors had just wrapped the ninth episode of the 13-episode order. Many of the characters have different fates than the ones in the book, but it's safe to say that no one is safe in Chester's Mill. (Insert maniacal laugh here.)
"Under the Dome" premieres Monday, June 24 at 10 p.m. ET on Global and CBS.
Get To Know The "Under The Dome" Characters:
Big Jim Rennie (Dean Norris)
"Big Jim doesn't see himself as a bad guy. He thinks he's doing right, he thinks he is the chosen leader of the town. He does save the town a number of times. Certain people, if they keep the trains running, see themselves as the right person for the job even though the way they go about doing that isn't necessarily all that kosher. There's a side of him that's as dark as ever. He has moments where he'll go to the dark side like that, which is really the fun part about playing him. I would really like the audience to go, 'Big Jim's a sweet guy, he's not really a bad guy,' then all of a sudden, in a heartbeat, the reptilian part comes out."
Dale "Barbie" Barbara (Mike Vogel)
"The dome is a device, it's a fish bowl, and you put a bunch of fish in a fish bowl and bang on it and you see how they react. You'll see some fish eat other fish, you'll have other fish fight the fish that are eating the other fish, but that's kind of what this is, an experiment. But, also, we're dealing with the added element of what is this thing, where did it come from, is it man-made, is it other-worldly? What are the limitations of this world in which we now find outselves?"
Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre)
"How do I play a character who is so determined not to examine her own life and her own choices and how far will I go in pursuit of a story to avoid that? The more my own life starts to fall apart in the show, the more obsessed I have to be with the dome and everything that's happening in Chester's Mill. We flirt with every possible outcome that thing could be. We examine it in many, many, many ways and it's still standing at the end of the day, so draw your own conclusions as to what that is, why that is, how that is, but as far as where we are in episode 10 right now, we're still perplexed and finding out some interesting stuff."
James "Junior" Rennie (Alexander Koch)
"There are two sides to Junior, the public persona that his dad wants him to be, the town jock and bully jerk, and there's the broken child that is inside Junior that he probably is more connected to because of past history with family and losing his mother at a young age. He finds this thing in Angie that fills this gap that's missing in his heart. He gets obsessed and wants to keep that quality. He wants to keep that love as much as he can so he does what he does."
Angie McAlister (Britt Robertson)
"It's not like we have a clear trajectory of where we're going. We just get to play it episode by episode, which is awesome. It's so much more fun that way because we're living it as the characters are. In a show like this, we can go at any moment. I'm not dead yet..."
Joe McAlister (Colin Ford)
"I felt he was kind of simple, but because of his lack of parents (who are on the outside) and his sister isn't around, he has to grow up a little bit. He has to figure things out. So Joe does a lot of growing up in the first episodes. He goes on his instincts. Joe loves this. The dome may be a scary thing but it's also the most exciting thing that's ever happened in Chester's Mill. It's something to talk about, to think about; what is this thing and how can he figure it out? What does he have to do?"
Linda Esquivel (Natalie Martinez)
"With Linda, what you see is what you get. As to why I stayed in town and why I became a cop, why I'm such a tough girl and I don't have parents, there's a story to be had there. But for the most part, what you see is what you get. It's very vulnerable, when you have somebody that doesn't have a clear past or history, it's like, Where are you gonna go? Who are you, really? Is the dome going to change you?"
Dodee Weaver (Jolene Purdy)
"It's interesting where [the writers are] going; we make our speculations and we're totally wrong and blown away. There are some skills you have in life and in a crisis situation, they're heightened. [Dodee] gets a line to the outside world. Technology makes sense to her, people don't. Stepping out of the radio station and getting to interact with everyone, it's different. Because she doesn't necessarily trust anyone. She's keeping everything that she's finding pretty close to her and not really trusting everyone. She has some unique skill sets that she doesn't want everyone to know that she has."
"A lot of times, network TV isn't notable for bravery because what happens is you have a lot of executives who feel like the concept is a Christmas turkey. This is the most beautiful Christmas turkey I have ever seen. Let's sit down and have dinner. And when dinner is over, we're going to turkey sandwiches, and then the next day we're going to have turkey meatloaf and the day after that we're going to have turkey tetrazzini, turkey soup until there's nothing left but the bones. There's a tendency to run things until they're threadbare. I have no idea how far they're going to go or what they're going to do with it. But the one thing I've said to all the writers and to the people, the executives who are involved with this is, let's be thinking ahead all the time about how we're going to button this up. Because what guys like me do is, I run the story. And there's always more surprise. There can always be another story. And if you like 'Under the Dome' well then maybe there'll be something else that will come along. Who knows?"