The Stand: Inside the Show’s Changes to Nick, Tom, and Ralph

This article incorporates spoilers for episode 3 of The Stand.

After spending a lot of episodes 1 and a pair of with necessary characters reminiscent of Stu Redman (James Marsden), Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young), Harold Lauder (Owen Teague) and Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo), the brand new miniseries model of Stephen King’s The Stand brings in or fills out the backgrounds of a number of extra key personnel in episode 3, titled “Blank Pages.”

This episode (written by Jill Killington and Owen King, son of Stephen) of the nine-part CBS All Access restricted sequence introduces the characters of Nick Andros (Brazilian actor Henry Zaga from The New Mutants), Ray Brentner (Irene Bedard) and Tom Cullen (Brad William Henke), all of whom play a serious function in King’s story — and all of whom have obtained a reasonably vital overhaul for the brand new adaptation.

In King’s e book and the 1994 miniseries, Ray is Ralph Brentner, a bodily imposing but good-natured 45-year-old farmer from Oklahoma and a key chief of the Boulder Free Zone. In the brand new present, Ray is of Native American origin, smaller in stature but robust and scrappy, and one of many closest individuals to Boulder religious chief Mother Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg). Brentner can be one of many 4 who head to Las Vegas for the title confrontation in opposition to Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard), alongside Stu, Larry, and Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear).

Nick, one in all Boulder’s leaders and in addition extraordinarily near Mother Abigail, is each deaf and mute, presumably on account of a automobile accident his mother and father acquired in when his mom was pregnant with him. Born in Nebraska and lengthy orphaned after we meet him within the e book, Nick (performed by Rob Lowe in 1994) is a drifter who will get by doing odd jobs. In the brand new present, Nick can be deaf and mute and on his personal, however is a refugee from South America who was dropped at the United States as a baby by his mom.

Asked if altering the characters’ backgrounds (rock star Larry Underwood is white within the e book for instance, and Black within the new sequence) was merely a matter of refreshing the characters for a extra various period, showrunner Benjamin Cavell tells Den of Geek, “That was certainly part of it, in terms of making the main set of characters, however many there are, not all white guys and Frannie.”

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Cavell provides, “It was important and felt like it made our story feel both more universal and also, frankly, more rooted in 2019 or 2020. Our cast felt like it just had to look more like the America of 2019 and 2020. King had said that if he were doing it himself, and writing it now, that he would have done that too. It was just a clear upgrade to do that.”

Another character given a considerably main reinvention in a unique method is Tom Cullen, the developmentally disabled man who meets up and turns into quick associates with Nick on the way in which to search out Mother Abigail within the aftermath of the Captain Trips pandemic.

In each the e book and the 1994 miniseries (the place he’s portrayed by Bill Fingerbakke), Tom is round 40 years outdated and a mild big, a easy man-child considerably out of step with how we view and work together with the developmentally disabled at present (within the e book, first revealed in 1978, he’s described as “retarded” in each derogatory and non-derogatory contexts).

Brad William Henke in The Stand
James Minchin/CBS

The Tom Cullen of the brand new sequence is explicitly middle-aged and is now seen by a extra fashionable lens. “Tom, I suppose, was the one that seemed to me to need the most updating in terms of the characterization from the book,” explains Cavell. “I’ve at all times considered Tom as form of Lennie from Of Mice and Men, simply transposed into the King universe — the outdated thought of a kid trapped in an grownup physique.

“But in my experience of developmentally disabled adults, that doesn’t exist,” he provides. “I mean, not in the way I understand it, of a child trapped in an adult body, implying a child’s lack of self-awareness. The developmentally disabled adults that I’ve known are not in the dark about whether they’re developmentally disabled, or whether they have differences from most people around them.”

Cavell continues, “One of the things that was really important to me, and to all of us, and certainly to Brad William Henke, was to give Tom the dignity that comes with making him a full-fledged adult human being. One of the things we found was that speech he gives, in which he is telling whoever he meets about his deficits, and his abilities, and what he can do, and laying it all out — it just felt like that was the kind of thing that a grown man who is living a life that Tom Cullen is, would need to have as a way to navigate the world.”

Henke was the one actor provided the function, with Cavell including that the previous skilled soccer participant introduced his personal expertise of realizing gamers who’ve suffered collected head trauma from the sport into his analysis for the half.

“There is the suggestion in the book, and certainly also in our show, that at least part of what’s going on with Tom is the result of head trauma,” says Cavell. “He mentioned something in the book about getting hit on the head when he was a kid, and we mention that in the show. So it was very important to Brad to do right by that portrayal. We talked a lot about it, and he actually showed me a part of a documentary about a guy who he had played with, maybe in college, who’s pretty ravaged by some of the effects of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease associated with repeated head trauma).”

There is one other delicate however necessary change in Tom’s narrative later within the present, which Cavell mentions however we gained’t focus on right here (it is available in a future episode). But relating to each that and Tom Cullen’s total transformation, Cavell notes, “I’m proud of all the ways in which it feels like we updated that character and his story.”

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We’ll have extra from Cavell subsequent week after the premiere of episode 4, “The House of the Dead,” together with a pivotal determination relating to materials from King’s 1990 uncut version of the e book.

New episodes of The Stand premiere each Thursday on CBS All Access.

The publish The Stand: Inside the Show’s Changes to Nick, Tom, and Ralph appeared first on Den of Geek.

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