Hulu is adding another great actor to its stellar Castle Rock season 2 ensemble. Paul Sparks, a character actor best known for roles in Boardwalk Empire and Starz’s The Girlfriend Experience, has signed on to play town bully Ace Merrill in the upcoming season of the Stephen King-inspired anthology series. According to Deadline, Sparks will replace Garrett Hedlund, who was previously cast in the role and had already shot a few scenes for the second season. The recasting was reportedly a creative decision, as it seems that Hedlund didn’t quite fit with Dustin Thomason and Sam Shaw’s vision for the next installment.
Sparks, whose credits also include HBO’s The Night Of and Netflix’s House Of Cards, will portray Ace, the nephew of local loan shark Pop Merrill–played by Stephen King vet Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption). With Pop approaching retirement, Ace is primed to take over his uncle’s business interests, but his promotion has troubling implications for the town’s relationship with nearby Jerusalem’s Lot. Sparks joins a cast that includes Lizzy Caplan as Annie Wilkes (the psychopathic super-fan from Misery) and Elsie Fisher as Annie’s daughter (a new character created for the series), along with Barkhad Abdi, Matthew Alan, and Yusra Warsama. Season two will take place amidst an escalating battle between local families, exacerbated by the arrival of a troubled woman named Annie Wilkes.