The Chilean Pablo Larrain became the envy of millions when he saw with his own eyes what very few: the daily life of Stephen King in his house, the creative bunker from which dozens of best sellers that changed the universal culture of the last fifty years. The director’s visit to the city of Maine came after his confirmation as in charge of steering the destinations of Lisey’s Story, the series based on the eponymous book published in 2006 and quickly cataloged as one of the most personal works of the author of Carrie, It, Misery, The glow Y Animal graveyard, among other texts brought to the small and / or big screen. That King refused to give up the rights in order to take care of the adaptation himself – something that had not happened since the miniseries version of The glow 1997 – validates that the autobiographical plays a fundamental role in this series whose eight episodes hit the Apple TV + platform every Friday, at the rate of one a week.
Produced, among others, by Larraín himself and the Bad Robot company, owned by his colleague JJ Abrams, the series is centered on the anguish of Lisey (Juliane Moore), the widow of famed novelist Scott Landon (Clive Owen), who must deal with both her husband’s fanatics and mourning a traumatic loss and the peculiarities of an alternate world, called Boo’ya Moon, that he (was) built throughout his work. It is not an easy path for her, since investigating the creative folds of others implies discovering the complexities of a tormented mind, with one leg in reality and the other in fantasy. A tension very different from that perceived by the director ofTony Manero (2008), No (2012), Neruda (2016) and Jackie (2016) during his days in Maine. “While King is a very powerful movie buff, a great reader and a very cultured guy, acts, thinks and behaves like a rather ordinary American. This process is produced in that mixture, by which he ends up building and rebuilding himself all the time ”, he says during the exclusive interview with Page 12.
Larraín’s arrival at the project was given by a recommendation from Moore to Apple executives. Once hired, and after reading the novel and the script, he exchanged several emails with King, until he proposed to share a roof to refine the fine print of the dialogues and establish the aesthetic parameters of a story with undisguised traces of the author’s vast ideology : “He is associated with terror, fantasy and the psychological, but he also did very realistic things, like adolescent adventure novels or prison dramas. Before going I wondered how that man managed to be so universal. But upon arrival there was no clear answer. Only after a while did I realize that the important thing is that he is the first reader or viewer of his works. King cooks himself, and that’s the key to his success as a chef. He is in crisis, in friction with the materials he writes, and he always wonders how he would act in the face of what is happening “, analyze.
-Did you consult it from your position as director?
-It was a very close relationship because I was showing him how we were progressing in the visual aspects. The smallest changes were made by me, but the ones that had a more relevant impact I consulted with him. This book is very relevant and very personal, as well as a sort of historical reckoning with his own biography and with his relationship with his wife. Here he comes to say to himself, and to everyone, that without her he probably would not have been the writer that he is. The most difficult part of my job was serving as the interpreter of this very private story, putting it on the screen with all the appropriate care and paying great attention not to exceed the limits of a certain intimacy. I never tried to take my own path because it did not make sense and, in addition, I found it fascinating to talk with Stephen, who was always very close. Like all geniuses, he is a very funny guy. An intelligent, bright and very sharp guy.
– Did knowing that it was a very special book for King created an extra responsibility?
-It was normal for me. What was truly new, what I hadn’t done before, was getting involved with the fantastic. Scripts and novels are separate documents, so the adaptation lent itself to many possible interpretations. At one point, I proposed that Lisey hesitate longer about the fantastic elements and that the outcome challenge that look again. She wanted some viewers to be able to think that everything had been imagined by her. When I told him, he put his hand on my shoulder and said no, that I had to believe in all this like Lisey did. The idea was that I go to his world and not he to mine. It was quite liberating because, in truth, with fantastic elements you can find very interesting dramatic solutions.
– In what sense?
When I understood that this fantasy world, Boo’ya Moon, is a place where healing and horror occur at the same time, I realized that it required a good imagination to solve it. Many more “serious” or boastful writers often punish King by calling him a thick artist. But there you realize that there is something very sophisticated and profound coming from a mind with a very high literary and abstract capacity.
–Beyond the fantastic, it is still the story of a woman going through a traumatic duel as a result of an unexpected death. It is inevitable to think about Jackie, the film about the days after JFK’s crime told from his wife’s point of view. Did that experience help you to face this series?
-It helped me understand that the transit of trauma and pain is made from memory. So much Jackie What Lisey’s Story they are made from fragments. And in both cases something very challenging happens in audiovisual terms, and that is that when there is memory, when there is a memory to which we go from the present, it is difficult to represent the journey towards a second memory because it would imply building a third time ring. This is a story of pain, the requiem of a woman who needs to reorder herself from memory to reconstruct what happened and continue living with a certain peace. But those memories are always emotional in nature, so they do not only have a narrative value by which they are ordered and certain things understood. There is an emotional value in them that makes the characters understand themselves. I found that idea of a fragment interesting, that kind of puzzle with a very labyrinthine narrative.
-The series addresses the origins of creativity and the difficulty of creative processes. As an artist did you touch any internal fiber?
-I have always been struck by how writers and musicians work. They work in abstract spaces and are capable of creating very complex things in total solitude. I find it fascinating to think of how a writer can sit down and write 600 or 700 pages of a complex and profound story in a short period of time. There is something in common between directing and writing, and that is that the seams of a story need certain rules that are difficult to establish. Although one has to put the meaning in crisis and always be looking for an ambiguous narrative where doubt can take over the story, there is something that needs to be understood. Scott has this problem, but the interesting thing is that we do not understand it through him but through her. Lisey is its first reader and editor, so it is not an approach through the source itself, but through the mirror of that source. There is a moment in the series where Scott shows a newspaper article that tells the story of a dog that got lost and appeared two years later thousands of miles away. He says he couldn’t put something like that in a book because no one would believe it, because reality runs like a rabbit and writers must be very aware of coincidences, absurdities and plausibility.
-One of the high points of the series are the climates built with the director of photography Darius Khondji, who had already worked David Fincher, James Gray, Michael Haneke, Woody Allen and Alan Parker. Was there any visual reference?
–It was a long job that we did with Darius and Guy Dyas, the art director. Darius is a brilliant guy, very generous, and for me it was going to the best photography school during the seven months we were shooting. While they had worked around fantasy before, none had ever messed with Stephen King material. We wanted an aesthetic that would allow us to connect with what was written and that would have some grip. One of the things that I proposed to Stephen was to include the water scene, and there we understood that we had to work that fantasy world from a naturalistic perspective, in the sense that nature had to be preponderant. We realized that there was nothing more elegant and sophisticated than nature, so what we did was replicate spaces that exist in reality. With that idea we created that forest that, although it is on the surface, has the aesthetics of something that exists under water. Darius was very important there, he has a magic wand and is not called “The Prince of Darkness” for nothing.