Director Frank Darabont and the Cast on The Mist: The RT Interview

Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden and Chris Owen chime in on the Stephen King adaptation.

by Rachel Sandor | Tuesday, Nov. 20 2007

Frank Darabont Just in time for Thanksgiving, we're getting a horror film to be thankful for. Reuniting the dynamic duo of author Stephen King and director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), The Mist is a jump-out-of-your-seat horror flick that explores the monsters that humans become when engulfed by fear. Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, and Chris "The Sherminator" Owen are among a band of survivors trapped in a grocery store, surrounded by a supernatural fog and an assortment of vicious bugs and monsters.

RT caught up with Darabont and his three cast members during a roundtable chat (memorably interrupted by Thomas Jane's room service delivery) to discuss what humans are capable of under duress, Stephen King and Frank Darabont's working relationship, and how The Idiot's Guide to Revelations helped Marcia Gay Harden prepare for her role.

The Mist enters theaters everywhere this Wednesday.

Frank, what made you want to get behind the camera?

Frank Darabont:
For 20 years of a career I've been primarily a writer for hire. I've been a screenwriter first and a director on occasion. It's only been quite recently that I decided to reverse that equation and get behind the camera as often as I could. I'm not getting any younger and I feel like I've got some more movies to make.

Why another Stephen King adaptation?

FD: In all fairness, I think I have a particular love for the man's work. His voice as an author tends to attract me as a director. I find the stories that he tells are extremely compelling, so it seems to be a well that I keep going back to draw water from again and again. Luckily he digs what I do. It seems like a pretty good companionship there in terms of material and director.

Marcia, do you find it rare that scripts come along that you get excited about?

Marcia Gay Harden: For me, it's about character. What's the character arc? What can I do with the character? But not too many come along that you get excited about. They are few and far between.

Thomas Jane and Marcia Gay Harden with other survivors.

What drew you to The Mist script?

MGH: Frank Darabont. I love his work and I love that he tells a really human story. Often humans are far scarier than exterior events. In this case, I thought that Frank told a beautiful story. I like Stephen King, but I wasn't one of the die-hard fans. So while I want to say it was Stephen that drew me to it, it was the knowledge of the way [Darabont] tells a story. It's not the typical thing I curl up on the couch to read, so it was Frank doing a Stephen King story that made it even bigger.

[Mist co-star] Andre Braugher and I spoke at length about the script. My thought at first was, "It's a bug movie, what is that going to be like?" I spoke to Frank about that too and he really spoke about the internal machinations in the store that has a Lord of the Flies feel, which was the most terrifying book I ever read as a kid; the capacity for human beings to be cruel and their ignorance is as scary as supernatural forces.

Chris Owen: For me it was Frank, too. I'm such a fanboy and when people ask me what my favorite film is, it's always Shawshank. For me, getting to work with Frank was something I could scratch off my list. It was so much fun.

How did you prepare to play such an apocalyptic character?

MGH: It was fantastic to play this lady. I bought this book called The Idiot's Guide to Revelations because a lot of her speak is "Bible speak." I wanted it to be as real as it could be, so that when I talked about the Four Horsemen, I could be real with it.

And how did you approach carrying so much of the Mist's suspense and drama?

MGH: I embraced fear. I didn't want to let on at the beginning that she would be trouble, so Frank and I worked on creating a person that was less visually obvious than what had been written. We tried to create someone who might blend in with the "normal folk." Nor did I want to blame her for the fact that she thought it was the end of the world -- because there's bugs the size of skyscrapers coming out to eat people. I think if I saw that, I might think that it was the end of the world. It's not that far fetched. I didn't want it to be her religion, I wanted it to be more the degree to which she takes the religion and is capable of doing such human acts of cruelty that defies any logic. She creates a mob mentality, and the mob is a very scary thing, so then the mob takes on the responsibility of that fear. Then it's in the hands of Frank and how he comes in on a shot, and how he films my face, or when he cuts to someone looking at me. Those are the things, regardless of what I do, [that] up the ante, because he's the one building the tension every step of the way.