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An Interview with Stephen King
Tell us, what is Rose Red about?
Rose Red is a haunted house story, and I'd like it to be a sort of Moby Dick haunted house story, if you will. Something that's big and scary — that sticks in people's minds as "the haunted house movie." So in that sense I'm like Joyce Reardon. I'm after the White Whale. I probably won't catch it, but unless you try, you don't get any chance at all. I'd like it to be a haunted house story that people remember as one of the great ones.
How did this idea come about?
Actually Steven Spielberg came to me and said he would like to make a very scary haunted house movie and asked if I would be up to writing it. For a long time I'd been playing with an idea of writing a haunted house story. It would take off from the point of the Winchester house in San Jose, in which supposedly the widow of the Winchester Rifle magnates was told by a psychic, "As long as you're not done building the house, you'll stay alive." And so she decided she would never be done building the house and would therefore never die. What I liked about it was the idea of a house that starts to build itself.
Did this set capture everything that was in your imagination?
It captured everything in my imagination and more. I had the idea that we could do some really freaky things — where the house would have staircases that would go nowhere, or a perspective hall in which people walking down it would look big at one end and small at the other. There would even be a room or corridor that was upside down, like the ship in "The Poseidon Adventure." I had the tremendous fun in my imagination of building all this stuff. Set designer Craig Stearns worked with us to realize the actual sets, and they're fabulous.
How does creating a six-hour television miniseries differ from a two-hour movie?
I love the miniseries format because it gives you more room to stretch. Movies always make me feel like I'm stealing all the towels in the hotel room and then sitting on the suitcase to get everything in. When you do a miniseries, you've really got a much bigger space. It's the difference between a suitcase and a steamer trunk. You've got the room for a whole narrative wardrobe.
Tell us about your cameo appearance in Rose Red. Is this your little Hitchcock trademark?
I think it is a sort of a Hitchcock trademark. It's kind of in the spirit of those Where's Waldo? books. They keep wondering where Steve King is going to pop up.
Why should people watch Rose Red?
A story of the supernatural is masquerading to talk about the way we deal with unexpected and unexplainable things in our own lives. I think this particular story speaks to that very well.
Is there anything your fans are going to be surprised by?
No. I think it's what they would expect. But, as always in any story where you have a number of characters in a really stressful situation, the message I try to send is that nobody is really safe. Nobody gets off free. I think that if they believe they know how things are going to turn out, they're going to be very surprised. Let's put it this way: Not all the good people make it through.