Stephen King talks ‘It’ and other adaptations

Published 3:47 pm Friday, September 8, 2017

LOS ANGELES — The most-adapted author alive introduces himself on the phone as “Steve King.”

More than 60 of Stephen King’s novels and short stories have been made into movies or TV series over the past 40 years, with a bumper crop of recent and forthcoming releases hitting screens.

A cinematic take on “The Dark Tower” and a TV adaptation of “Mr. Mercedes” launched in August. Netflix will premiere its adaptation of King’s novel “Gerald’s Game” later this month, and his novella “1922” in October. And a big-screen version of his epic scary clown tale “It” hits theaters Friday.

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The celebrated author, who turns 70 this month, talked with The Associated Press about his scariest writing experiences and how Hollywood handles his work. Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

AP: How important is it that adaptations are faithful to your original work?

King: Well it’s not that important to me, really. I think that they’re the best when they stick close to the books because, I don’t know, I feel a proprietary interest in that. I always think that some of the adaptations that don’t work that well are ones where they buy the concept, the basic concept, but then say well yes but we’ll do this, that and the other thing to it. So I always feel a little bit like they bought my launching pad and put their own rocket up, and sometimes the rocket explodes… The ones that I like the best are the ones where they stick close to the story and where I see changes and things that have been altered and I say to myself, “I wish I’d thought of that.”

AP: Do the stories still feel like yours when you see them adapted for the screen?

King: Yeah, they still feel like mine. “It” feels very much like mine because it sticks close to the book… I think some of the reviews are going to say this is “Stand by Me” with monsters. But kids don’t change that much… And the nice thing about “It” as a movie is that as a horror movie, it works. But one of the reasons it works — the only reason that this kind of story ever works — is that you care for the people that are involved.