The Stand TV show has found its Randall Flagg, casting Alexander Skarsgård to play the evil Walkin’ Dude. Published in 1978, Stephen King’s The Stand presents the horror author’s vision of a post-apocalyptic world where, after a superflu has wiped out most of humanity, the remaining survivors are pitted against one another in the ultimate battle between good and evil.
One of King’s most enduringly popular works, The Stand was first adapted as a TV miniseries in 1994, but like most TV versions of King’s books from the ‘90s that effort has not stood the test of time. Now, CBS All Access will take another crack at adapting King’s massive post-apocalyptic tome, with King himself rewriting the story’s ending (the original book ending is, like many of King’s endings, not popular with fans). The first casting announcements for the new Stand adaptation came in June, with James Marsden announced as Stu Redman, Amber Heard as Nadine Cross, Greg Kinnear as Glen Bateman, Odessa Young as Fran Goldsmith and Henry Zaga as Nick Andros. Rocker Marilyn Manson also says he has a role in the show, and will do music for it as well.
The second round of casting reports has now come out, and the big news is that The Stand has found the actor to play its main bad guy Randall Flagg, aka The Walkin’ Dude, in Big Little Lies Emmy-winner Skarsgård (via Collider). In addition, it’s been reported that Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg will play Mother Abagail, the mysterious 108-year-old woman who becomes the spiritual center of the good guy band of survivors (via Deadline). It’s also reported that Jovan Adepo (Overlord) will play fallen rock star Larry Underwood, while Owen Teague (Bloodline) takes on the role of nerd-turned-bad-guy Harold Lauder (Teague has already debuted in the King universe, playing the bully Patrick Hockstetter in IT) . Brad William Henke (Orange Is the New Black) meanwhile plays Tom Cullen, the simple man who befriends the deaf-mute Nick, while Daniel Sunjata (Happy!) plays the soldier Cobb.
A recurring character in King lore, Randall Flagg (who goes by many other names including The Dark Man and The Man in Black) was previously played by Jamey Sheridan in the 1994 miniseries and by Matthew McConaughey in 2016's The Dark Tower movie adaptation. Jasper Pääkkönen is set to play the character in the upcoming Dark Tower TV show. Skarsgård of course already has something of a connection to the King universe via his brother Bill, who plays Pennywise in the mega-successful IT movies.
Casting is of course a major worry for King fans who are looking forward to the new version of The Stand, which they hope will right many of the wrongs committed by the 1994 miniseries. Thus far, things are looking good with Mardsen as Redman, Skarsgård as Flagg and Goldberg as Abagail. It will be interesting to see how King fans react to the casting of black actor Adepo as previously white character Underwood, after the backlash over Idris Elba's casting as The Gunslinger in Dark Tower.