The novel that has consistently remained popular with high school students subjected to bullying from classmates that turned Stephen King from a low paid teacher into the most recognizable name in American literature of the last half of the 20th century has had a surprisingly robust legacy. “Carrie” did not just change the world by introducing the concept of the superstar novelist to the world, it also transformed into that rarest of all horror entities: a movie based on a Stephen King book that nearly everyone agrees was a successful adaptation.
“Carrie” may get a big screen remake treatment courtesy of the woman who directed Hilary Swank to the first of her two Best Actress Oscars. Just in case you aren’t keeping count, that gives Hilary Swank exact twice as many Best Actress Oscars as Meryl Streep as of January 201!. “Boys Don’t Cry” director Kimberly Peirce is tentatively scheduled to work with screenwriter Robert Aguirre-Sacasa to dig Carrie White out of her apparently shallow grave and allow the franchise to wreak havoc on campus once again. And franchise it is.
For instance, did you know that “Carrie” was mounted as a Broadway musical? In an interesting bit of synchronicity, the musical stage version of King’s novel became one of the most notorious Broadway disasters of the 1980s whereas screenwriter Aguirre-Sacasa was brought in by producers to help save the Spiderman musical from becoming the 21st century equivalent of “Carrie.”
If plans for this big screen reboot of Stephen King’s story about the telekinetic schoolgirl is realized, it will actually be the second cinematic remake. The first was a made for TV movie that aired in 2002. While today the TV version of “Carrie” is looked upon as just another ill-conceived small screen revision of a story not really fit for broadcast network programming, the original genesis was for it to act as pilot for a spin-off series. NBC execs looked at the success of the TV series version of Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone” and hoped for lightning to strike again. It did not and so Carrie did not enter the homes of America on a weekly basis as a kind of Buffy who slayed evil not with spikes, but telekinetic powers.
Several sources are reporting that Hailee Steinfeld is the leading contender to take over the role of Carrie White. The first movie helped turn Sissy Spacek into a major star. Steinfeld burst onto the scene in another big screen remake when she took on the role originated by Kim Darby in “True Grit.” Steinfeld earned an Oscar nomination and succeeded in creating a character that was all her own while doing nothing to undermine Darby’s interpretation.
Perhaps the most interesting element to these reports is that even if the movie doesn’t take off for another few years, Steinfeld would still be significantly closer to the actual age of the character than Spacek was. Right now, Steinfeld is just about exactly the same age as King’s high school psycho-heroine. Spacek was in her mid-20s when she originated the role.
If Steinfeld or another age-appropriate actress is cast, it will be fascinating to see if proximity to real life adolescent psychological state of mind will have any effect on the performance. Stay tuned for more and remember to keep away from anyone bringing up the subject of bullying a classmate.
For more from Timothy Sexton, use your telekinetic powers to bring this content to your screen:
“Storm of the Century”: Stephen King’s Masterpiece
Why Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” Is Better Than Stephen King’s Novel
What is Telekinesis?