After languishing in development limbo for years, The Stand is finally (almost) here. Josh Boone’s miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s post-pandemic apocalyptic epic is coming to CBS All Access (the exact date has yet to be revealed), which shared the first photos with Vanity Fair for a lengthy feature on the highly-anticipated series. While it’s unwise (and unfair) to judge a series or film based on its cast and photos (set photos, not actual stills, we might add), there’s something disappointing about these images—specifically Alexander Skarsgard’s pompadour and extremely fake beard.
Skarsgard plays The Stand’s sinister, otherworldly villain Randall Flagg, who appears in other King novels—most notably the Dark Tower series—and was portrayed by Jamey Sheridan in the 1994 miniseries adaptation. If nothing else, Skarsgard’s styling continues the tradition of depicting Randall Flagg as a man with horrendous hair. In the Vanity Fair piece, which also features first looks at Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abigail, Odessa Young as protagonist Frannie Goldsmith, Heather Graham as Rita Blakemoor, and Nat Wolff as Lloyd Henreid. Also featured are Owen Teague (who played bully Patrick Hockstetter in It) as the troubled incel-esque Harold Lauder, and Jovan Adepo (Watchmen) as Larry Underwood—two pieces of casting that feel more inspired than the rest.
Although the setting of the story was moved up to present day (King’s novel was set in 1980, while a later reprint updated the year to 1990), the styling feels very outdated. Skarsgard’s Flagg, for instance, is described as “a charismatic rockabilly demon,” validating every concern you might have about that hair. There are a few more cast members not featured in the photos, including James Marsden (who plays protagonist Stu Redman) and Marilyn Manson, whose role has yet to be revealed.
Still, there’s some optimism to be had from Vanity Fair’s feature, as when Goldberg explicitly confronts concerns about the “magical negro” cliche—a trope King has often and rightfully been criticized of deploying in his novels. Another point in the plus column: the showrunners for The Stand are Benjamin Cavell and Taylor Elmore, who previously worked together on Justified, and that was a good show!