A&E has launched an online prequel site for its upcoming Stephen King miniseries Bag of Bones, EW has learned.
The haunting site uses animated images, black-and-white photographs and audio interviews to provide viewers with a backstory on the miniseries (it’s a bit like reading a creepy version of The Daily Prophet).
Titled “Dark Score Stories,” the project has characters from the upcoming miniseries (played by Pierce Brosnan, Annabeth Gish and Melissa George) in portraits by award-winning Danish photojournalist Joachim Ladefoged and providing oral histories. The site also includes Easter eggs from across King’s literary universe, so look closely… Go here for the whole experience. Bag of Bones debuts on A&E Sunday, Dec. 11.
Playing Tag with Death: Part 2 of an Interview with Mick Garris about 'Bag of Bones'
Today 11:00 AM PST , by Bev Vincent
On December 11th and 12th, A&E will air a four-hour miniseries based on Stephen King's 1998 novel, Bag of Bones, directed by Mick Garris. This is part 2 of my conversation with Garris, conducted while he was in post-production. Click here to see Part 1.
When you started filming Bag of Bones this summer, did you know it was going to air so quickly?
Yes. We actually did. It was part of the deal: Can you do this? After five years of trying to get it under way it suddenly got launched and it was damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. We had all of our meetings with all the post-production people, the visual effects, the editors. For the first time in my life I worked with two editors. They were working simultaneously as we were shooting, but I don't think you'll know by watching.
So it's not like one person is editing one night and the other person is editing the other.
No, because you shoot out of order and whatever you shoot they are cutting right away. In fact, because of the nature of us shooting in Nova Scotia and the editing being done in Los Angeles, we would shoot and then the dailies would be sent by ISDN line to Los Angeles. They would cut scenes before I would see the dailies. I normally do very extensive notes on dailies—and I still do—into a recorder and then have them transcribed and e-mailed to the editors, but they'd already done it. I thought: this is superfluous.
What were the special effects demands like on this production?
Pretty extensive considering the kind of story it is. It's mostly about one man's emotional journey of loss. There were a lot of things we had to do that were difficult on the kind of schedule we have. My situation is almost always the same: I'm doing a genre film on a drama schedule. Hopefully it's a drama first and then it's the genre film. There are a lot of key visual effects. Sara and the tree sequences. There are hauntings. They're not all over the movie, but there are some pretty extensive things in it. It was also a group of people—the crew, I had never worked with any of them before and so that's a real gamble and a real test of faith and taste and mettle and all of that. It worked out really well and I think it's a wonderful production and hopefully people who weren't involved with it will think so, too.
How much of the effects did you do "live" on the set and how much of it will come in during post-production?
All of the make-up effects were live. The tree is a post-production thing, although it happens in a lightning and rainstorm out in the woods, so all of those effects were live. And even some of the digital effects aren't really computer created—they're live pieces that were brought into it. But there is some 3D animation going on right now on the tree effects. I had worked with Jeff Okun on Sleepwalkers way back when and we've been friends ever since. He's a very high-end visual effects supervisor. He was our consultant on this and brought in Paul Bolger from CosFX and Paul was just fantastic. We got a lot of wonderful work that you could never hope to get in the kind of schedule that we've had. We were reassured by Paul and by Jeff that they could do it on this schedule and do it well. We just leapt off the diving board and it all has been working out great.
There are a lot of physical effects and the makeup effects that Adrien Morot did are really superb. Mainly, the rush is because we started so late. The production period was fine but the prep was very, very short. The post-production is very, very short. Normally when a make-up effects guy has to do what we asked him to do, it's a couple of months of prep and he ended up having like a week of prep for some of these characters that weren't even cast until a week before they were going to play the part. It was very, very challenging and demanding and we're really happy with how it turned out.
When you were scouting Alaska a couple of years ago, you told an interviewer that you had somebody in mind for the male lead. Did that change?
It did change. For a while, Rob Lowe really wanted to do it. We'd worked together on The Stand and he's a huge Stephen King fan. We talked about various people. It's always a fine line between who the studio or network is interested in and what they see is most commercial, and being right for the movie. Rob was busy on some other work. We were talking about various other people and once Pierce Brosnan came up, it was like this is such a great idea but he hasn't done television in fifteen years. But then his agent was encouraging us to offer it to him. It ended up working out great. I think he's just fantastic in the part. It was my first time working with him and I'm a huge fan of The Matador, it's one of my favorite movies and performances in a movie ever. He's not really done genre film before—you know, Lawnmower Man wasn't really this genre, and not really a Stephen King movie, either.
Once we were able to talk about it, he was intrigued about the idea of it. It's a very daunting role. He's in every scene in the movie virtually. I think there was one day that he didn't work out of the forty days that we shot. There's a lot of it where he's by himself so it's a real challenge. I think it's a rare actor who has ever done a movie like this where it's just him for long, long stretches of the movie. And because you shoot things out of order—there are three leading ladies in this and you don't shoot them in story order so it's like: here's a movie starring Pierce Brosnan and Melissa George, and then after that we're shooting a movie starring Pierce Brosnan and Annabeth Gish. And then here's a movie starring Pierce Brosnan and Anika Noni Rose. They were like distinctly different movies so that by the time we were shooting the last week and talking about what we'd done the first couple of days, it was like—was that this movie? It seems so far removed.
What I love about Pierce is that he's a guy who wants to take chances. He wants to try things. Working with him was just a fantastic experience, aside from just doing a movie-star movie. There's a reason he's a movie star. Often his characters, Bond and the like, they're very charming and intelligent and very well played, but in this he goes raw. The depth of his emotions and despair at times are quite remarkable and it's stuff that I had not seen that much of before in his work—and you can't find a bigger Pierce Brosnan fan than me. We had a wonderful time and doing some things that I'd never done before with a movie and how things were portrayed and things that I'd rarely seen him do. One of the secrets of being a great actor is fearlessness in tackling something like a tree that's attacking with its branches or seeing letters move on a refrigerator by themselves and still carrying with it the veracity of the human character he's playing. It's a remarkably performance and I hope it gets noticed.
At the other end of the spectrum you've got Caitlin Carmichael who plays Kyra.
She is amazing. She's a wonderful actress. She turned seven years old right before doing this. She is one of the brightest, canniest actors of any age and, again, she gets to do some very, very emotional sequences here of—I'm sure most of your readers know the story, but— just what happens with her mother and lots of things that happen in this movie but she's capable of such depth and maturity and here she's just seven. Where did that come from? She's a major part of the movie.
I was pleased to see William Schallert, too. There's a familiar, friendly old face in a not very friendly character.
Max Devore is not one of the most pleasant people to spend a day with. We have a lot of fun with him on that. Here's an actor who's 89 years old and it's a pretty demanding role. That was a great experience and I've known him from The Patty Duke Show and The Twilight Zone. I'm old enough to remember that from my childhood.
Did Jason Priestley just happen to be in the neighborhood?
We wanted a cameo for that because even the small parts need to have some depth, a feeling that they lived before the role began and after the credits end. Jason does a show called Call Me Fitz that shoots in Nova Scotia and we thought he'd be great to play Mike's agent, Marty, and it was a great opportunity. He was close by and excited about doing it and we were all glad to have him. It was only one day but a lot of important stuff takes place during that day and a lot more dialog than I think he realized he was going to have in one day. He killed. He knew what to do and made the most of it. He really did a good job. Bag of Bones
Matt Frewer as Sid Noonan and Pierce Brosnan as Mike Noonan
And, of course, Matt Frewer, this is my sixth movie I've done with Matt. He plays Mike's brother Sid. There's a scene between the two of them in a bar that Matt Venne, the writer who did the screenplay, said, when he saw the dailies, it was like watching a masters class in acting. Really great to see the two of them together. They seem genetically linked as brothers. He and I first worked together on The Stand. He was the first actor we ever read for any role in The Stand and he just blew us all away. King was in the meeting when he came in and read, and he did the scene where he first finally meets Randall Flagg, when he holds up the flame for him and says "my life for you" the first time and it was so filled with pathos. We saw that this isn't Max Headroom any more. This is a guy who's capable of incredible range. We've become really good friends. Any time I can get him on a set I'll kill to do it. He and Pierce got along great. Pierce was The Lawnmower Man and Matt was Lawnmower Man 2.
Photo credit: Chris Reardon
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Check back next week for the final part of my interview with Mick Garris, in which he discusses Stephen King's reaction to the miniseries, Sara Tidwell's music and his thoughts on the rumored remake of The Stand.
If Mick Garris was such a big fan he'd know that Matt Frewer and Pierce worked together in The Fourth Protocol.
Lauryn, my anticipation skyrocketed with the Dark Stories site. It's so striking and creative. Among other things, I was worried about pre and post production being so short but if they're highering creative with that level of talent maybe Sony and A&E got all their they got all their ducks in a row. And a show with Pierce in almost every frame - how much could I be disappointed? ;-)
Since I started THE FIRE WIRE, I have received some pretty interesting promotional items but the one that arrived today was pretty elaborate, ingenious and just damn cool.
Usually press kits contain press releases, high resolution pictures, a project synopsis and perhaps a video teaser to promote a new movie or television program. The material usually arrives in a pocketed folder but today A&E Networks spared no expense and sent me an amazing package to promote their upcoming Stephen King miniseries, Bag of Bones in the form of a record player.
Kudos to the clever marketing people that thoughtfully designed the old fashioned record player that plays a Sara Tidwell recording when opened. A switch on the side actually makes the record spin. Hidden in a compartment underneath the player is a lavish book containing cast bios, 2 DVD’s of the actual miniseries and finally a separate disc with downloadable press materials. Golden metal corner pieces and the clasp add an antique look to the brown faux leather exterior of the case when closed. The top of the case has a logo stating, “Dark Score Lake Recording Co. – Music so beautiful, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven”.
A Look Inside Stephen King’s ‘Bag of Bones’ by Patrick Dorsey Dec 2nd, 2011
“Stephen King’s Bag of Bones” isn’t “Twilight.”
Nor is it “Saw.”
“There are no teenagers in this cast,” executive producer-director Mick Garris told XfinityTV.com on Thursday. “And it’s not about slaughtering people in creative ways.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with those things. Still, Garris said, that’s probably why you’ll see this Gothic ghost tale on A&E soon instead of in a theater, as a two-part miniseries starting Sunday, Dec. 11.
And this is just fine for the director. Sure, Garris – a horror buff who has directed numerous King adaptations for screens of both sizes, including “Sleepwalkers,” “The Stand,” “The Shining,” “Riding the Bullet” and “Desperation” – originally intended this Pierce Brosnan-starring ghost story to live life as a feature (as did Bruce Willis, who first optioned the book but never worked on this version, according to Garris).
But with the source material rather “dense” — this is King, after all — Garris is happy to have the extra runtime to make the story sing the way it was supposed to.
Sing it does. The tale of a writer (Brosnan) who escapes to rural Maine and simultaneously deals with the death of his pregnant wife (Annabeth Gish), a little girl’s custody battle between mother (Melissa George) and grandfather (William Schallert), and the eerily haunting ghost of an old blues singer (Anika Noni Rose), “Bag of Bones” has what Garris calls “a ‘Sixth Sense’ appeal to it” — a ghost story with “humanity, passion and emotion.”
Scares, too. Don’t forget the scares. According to Garris, he got everything he wanted in, no matter how intense.
“There are some scenes in ‘Bag of Bones,’” the director said, “that you would not expect to see between commercials for Pampers and Viagra.”
Here’s what else you can expect:
Pierce Perfection: Garris had worked with much of the cast before. Brosnan? Never met the former James Bond. Only had seen his films, particularly the crime comedy “The Matador,” which he enjoyed greatly.
“He was the revelation of the show,” Garris said. “I’d never seen him do this kind of a role where it’s so raw and emotional, where he really breaks down. And he was terrific. And he’s also such a gentleman. We got along great.”
“He was a little reserved about [some of the supernatural scenes], when we first met,” Garris said, “but once it was down to it, he was just totally committed.”
Heart: What led Garris to this story? The subject matter, through and through.
“It’s about loss, it’s about passion, it’s about death, and I’ve had more than my share of losing people,” Garris said. “As a guy who makes horror movies, death is fun. But when it comes knocking at your door, it’s a lot less recreational than that.”
Special special effects: Shot in Nova Scotia in the summer — with speedy pre- and post-production, to boot — one might expect this film to look a bit haggard, especially in the visual effects department.
Not so, insisted Garris, especially feature veterans Cosmas Paul Bolger (“Moulin Rouge”) and Jeffrey Okun (“The Day the Earth Stood Still”) assisting, along with makeup director Adrien Morot (“300”).
“These are all people who do major movies,” Garris said, “and they did major-movie work on a television schedule and budget.”
No King: One thing you won’t see is King himself, who has appeared in several of his adapted films, including “The Shining” and “The Stand” — both of which he produced alongside Garris.
Garris and the uber-prolific author are “very good friends,” though, and King still had a slight hand in production — answering questions, looking at dailies, approving cast members, and even giving one crucial “yes” answer:
“He had director approval,” Garris said with a laugh.
The Power of TV: As in, A&E cares (“People know about it,” Garris said, “they’ve really pulled out all the stops”). Plus, pretty much the full story gets told — thanks in part to the fact that the censors did nothing to the final version.
“I was really, really surprised that when we did my cut, they had no broadcast standards issues at all with it,” Garris said.
All of which shows the power of TV, and why it’s — not always, but sometimes — preferable to the big screen.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a higher level on television than I have in features,” Garris said. “So I’d rather make a good high-end movie for television than a good low-end [feature] that nobody sees.”
Playing Tag with Death: Part 3 of an interview with Mick Garris about 'Bag of Bones' Thu., Dec. 1, 2011 12:00 PM PST , by Bev Vincent
On December 11th and 12th, A&E will air a four-hour miniseries based on Stephen King's novel, Bag of Bones, directed by Mick Garris. This is part 3 of my conversation with Garris. Click here to see Part 1 and Part 2 and stay tuned for my review of the miniseries.
How difficult was it to find a place to interrupt the story so that people will want to come back the second night?
There was definitely some decision making, but when you're telling a story and you know it's got to be split in half, there aren't a whole lot of choices available to you. You have to make it work and find a place. There was some talk just a week ago about finding a different spot to make the break and changing the lengths of the acts and things like that, but we tried some things with the network involved and ended up going back to the way we had done it originally. It seems to be the most powerful place to come into night two.
Matt Venne, who did the script, did a terrific job on that. It's his favorite novel of all time, so he was the right guy. If it's not going to be Steve, then Matt would be the perfect choice, and was. There were a lot of discussions and because he was in on it from the beginning, I worked very closely with him developing it. Both of us have such a passion for the book but, like Steve King himself knows better than anybody, a book isn't a movie. Sometimes you have to make creative decisions, like splitting it up into two parts. I think it's probably the most effective place. It actually works well and feels very natural.
At what point do you screen this for King?
He has already seen a version of it. He saw a version of it, really my cut—they're all my cut because I'm involved all the way through—but the first one we did with the editors and no feedback from anybody. He was really enthusiastic. It's a huge relief for me—probably a bigger one for him. A huge relief to know that he liked it because he's a guy who will tell you the truth. He'll be tactful about it, but he'll tell you what he thinks. Luckily we've had a pretty good batting average together. I'm hopeful. You never know what anybody outside of the production will think—well, Steve wasn't involved in the process other than as a friend. He had a couple of approvals of cast and director, but as my friend I would send him drafts of the script and dailies so he knew a lot of the things that were coming. He didn't watch all of the dailies—that's a tedious process—but he was very enthusiastic. But you never know how anything is going to be perceived. There are so many filmmakers, their favorite work is the stuff that's been least appreciated or even reviled at times but we all feel really good about this.
The Sara Tidwell component of the story is deeply rooted in her music. Did you use found music or did you have somebody writing music for those parts of the story?
We used some classic songs, some great songs that were available, and Anika Noni Rose is not only a fantastic actress, she's a Tony-winning actress and singer on Broadway. She sings these songs so beautifully, and she's so good in this part. I did not know her work well before, and I sure will now because she was amazing. You'll never see Sara Tidwell in any other way after you see this movie. The same goes with the entire cast. Mike Noonan—maybe you have somebody different in mind that doesn't have an English accent and I think he's written to be in his early forties—forty-ish, I think—but Pierce so commands this part and so makes it his. And Anika, and Melissa George, and Annabeth Gish and Matt and Jason, all these people. This doesn't always happen, but every single one of them was terrific to work with. I know people say that stuff in interviews all the time, but you get divas now and then. There's rarely a cast that doesn't have at least one actor who is difficult. But this cast was remarkable in that they're all terrific people as well as terrific artists.
What is your role as producer on Bag of Bones?
I'm executive producer and director on this. Basically it was getting the material from Steve and developing the script with Matt, hiring the writer and even helping pay the writer, which wasn't supposed to happen. Just living with it. Mark Sennett, my producing partner, is the guy who made the business happen. He's the one who made the deal with A&E and got it all going forward. It was a lot of work that took close to five years to make happen, but it was a great experience being a real producer on it and not just being a credit. Taking all of that stuff in hand, with all the casting choices. It still goes on now. Choosing the songs that Sara did. We're doing another couple of songs so that we don't have to repeat a couple of them that we'll probably record next week, and it's going through all these piles of songs, and choosing them, and deciding what the instrumentation is, all of that is part of the executive producer job, as well as the director job.
Is filming the most exciting part of the process, or do your find a lot of rewarding creativity from post-production as well?
You know, it's all great. The pre-production and casting process is always great. That's when the decisions are made specifically of what's going to happen. But the shooting process and working with actors and working with cameras, working with the effects and all—making it happen, being open to what your environment offers you to make the best possible choices on how to emotionally convey something visually and aurally—that's exciting too. As a writer, I love writing, too, but you're really making the movie here.
The shooting process is by far the most taxing, but it's also the most exhilarating. A short day is twelve hours. We had some that were substantially more than that. It's a long day and exhausting because often, in addition to that shooting period, you've got an hour drive to a location, an hour drive home after we wrap. And then all the weekends are spent—for me—prepping and doing shot lists and figuring out what the next week is going to be. It's amazingly work intensive, especially when you have all the mechanics of a genre film on top of what we hope is a really emotional and passionate drama. The mechanics are complicated and time consuming. The camera work, setting up your shots if you're doing nights or locations or stages, and trying to get the most rich and communicative visual style, it's time consuming. That's probably the most gratifying.
In post-production, you reshape it. It's incredible how important music choices are and composing the score, and sound design and sound effects editing and all that. Post is nice because I go home to my bed, work a little more reasonable hours, although this has been weird working with two editors because of the time crunch, jumping back and forth between two cutting rooms. "Mick, I've got something here for you." Okay, let me see. "Hey, Mick, I've got something here for you." Back and forth. But it's really fun. Shaping something. You have all of this raw material from what you shoot and shaping it in post-production is a lot of fun and it's as creatively demanding as production is.
I wanted to change subject for a moment and ask what you think about The Stand being remade.
I don't know. I just read a few days ago that Warner Bros. wants Ben Affleck to direct. I think he's a great director. The movies he's directed, The Town and Gone Baby Gone, I loved that film. I loved The Town, too, but Gone Baby Gone even more so. I'm a huge fan of the Dennis Lehane book. I think he's an interesting choice. It's weird, though, because you do feel kind of fatherly about something that you made. It's such a huge story—more power to them. It would be interesting to see something where they didn't have to limit themselves to shooting 16mm film and doing everything on a budget. Even though it was elaborate for a miniseries at the time, you felt the squeeze of it. But to see a big screen version where you have all the money that it deserves to be made—it would be fascinating to see what it would be. We made that movie seventeen years ago. We actually shot it and made it in '93. I wasn't grey then.
I can't imagine how they'll do it as a movie, but it'll be interesting to see. Some of the best genre films were remakes. The Thing was fantastic and Cronenberg's The Fly was fantastic. It's not automatic that remakes suck—it's just axiomatic, and usually the truth. But there are times when it's valid. Just from production value qualities alone, I would love to see what they do with it. But it's a huge and sprawling story that I can't believe we got through way back then. I don't know what the plan is now. I don't know if that's the kind of movie that you want to wait months to see the next installment. It's one thing for a Lord of the Rings movie or a Harry Potter movie or something but I'm just not sure that [The Stand] works that way. But, you know, I'm not making it, somebody else is, so I'm fascinated.
What do you hope the audience will come to Bag of Bones looking for and what will they take away from it?
Hopefully you'll be touched by the emotional resonance. It's about loss and it's about mourning and it's about finding your life after this loss. It's something that people experience during the course of life that doesn't necessarily happen when they're in their formative years. In a way it's a theme that Riding the Bullet was all about, too. Dealing with loss and continuing to live a life and acknowledging that loss, making it a part of who you are and carrying it with you but not keeping you from continuing in the stage of evolution. I've never put it in words before, so that's kind of off the top of my head, but the stuff that we were always trying to go for was the emotional resonance of that. I think there's a universality in mourning the death of a loved one and that opens the door to imagination, too. That's what our genre is all about, playing tag with death.
Choice Cuts 35: Bag of Bones' Mick Garris Interview Part 1
Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor December 2, 2011
Mick Garris is back in Stephen King territory once again, adapting Bag of Bones for A&E. The director, of course, is no stranger to King, having directed Sleepwalkers, The Stand, The Shining and Riding the Bullet (just to name a few titles).
This time, he directs Pierce Brosnan, Melissa George and Annabeth Gish in a ghostly tale that airs on December 11 and 12. To learn more, Garris invited Shock up to his house to discuss the adaptation and more. We hope you enjoy this episode which kicks off our second season of Choice Cuts! Stay tuned for part two of this interview.
Steve Coulson works at Campfire, a company behind several really cool promotion's. He and his team did the site DarkScoreStories.com to promote Bag of Bones. I got a chat with him and asked how the site was created and how they got the ideas you see there.
Last week, I participated in a conference call with several other journalists hosted by A&E to promote Bag of Bones, which premieres on Sunday, December 11. This is the first time I’ve been involved in something like this. Basically it’s a press conference, except it’s done over the phone. While it seemed a little chaotic at first, once the moderator established the rules, everything fell into place. Each of us got to ask three questions in turn.
The interview guest was Annabeth Gish, who plays Jo Noonan in the two-part, four-hour miniseries, which is directed by Mick Garris and stars Pierce Brosnan, Gish, Melissa George and William Schallert.
Gish previously appeared in Garris’s 2006 TV movie Desperation, where she played Mary Jackson. She received an offer for the part of Mike Noonan’s wife, read the script and accepted the role, even though her character dies early in the movie. “Jo was so clearly drawn, and her essence is throughout the film, so in that sense she kind of resonates. I was automatically drawn to say ‘yes’ for several reasons. One is that I’ve worked with the director, Mick Garris, before and I absolutely adore him. And, again, this is another Stephen King project for me and I respect him immensely. I just jumped at the chance.”
Because of the nature of her role, her on-screen moments are almost entirely with Pierce Brosnan. She first met Brosnan during the photo sessions that gave rise to the Dark Score Stories website before filming began. “You can get to know a little bit more about Jo and her paintings and her relationship to solving the Sara Tidwell murder... That was nice to get loose and to play, because we were supposed to be captured as in real life moments. That was really helpful to get to know each other.” They also took a rowboat ride together, but she didn’t feel it was necessary to process their relationship too much before the cameras rolled. “Here’s the thing about Pierce Brosnan that I can’t say enough: He is a consummate professional and an actor. He would come so prepared, with so many diverse options and choices. He’s such an impeccable actor and a great human being that what he brought was fantastic.” A scene in which she lies on the dock with Brosnan was a personal highlight for her. “He’s always been idol of mine from a young age,” she says, remembering him for his days on Remington Steele.
The fact that she was working with Garris for the second time helped, too. “You’ve gotten all of the niceties out of the way. You’re comfortable. You know each other. You know each other’s styles. And Mick has such an open heart. My level of comfort with him was immense, and I trust him implicitly. I would do anything for him. Mick is such an exquisite filmmaker. He has this mastery of horror. Anything he did technically with this film, I trusted, and you knew it was going to be beautiful. Sometimes when you walk onto a set you know everyone is in accordance with the director. Everybody is getting the memo. Filming is working efficiently. That was the vibe whenever I worked.”
Because she is the mother of two young children, she didn’t relish the idea of spending a lot of time away from them, or taking them to Nova Scotia to live in a hotel. She says that everyone worked around her schedule. “I had to take five separate trips to Halifax, but I was able to do only three and four days away from my sons. They were so considerate to me being a mom and knowing that I didn’t want to leave my sons.”
As for Nova Scotia, which doubles for Maine in the miniseries, she says, “Halifax itself as a location was this murky, mysterious, lush landscape that really fit. I think it really gives a sense of the landscape and infuses the film throughout. Weather in that kind of coastal environment always can present a problem but it was beautiful. I would shoot in Halifax any time. I think it’s such a gorgeous area of the planet and I would return there in a heartbeat.”
The most difficult aspect of the miniseries for her was the fact that she had to convey her character’s spirit. “You have a limited amount of time to convey a certain amount of feeling. Mick and I particularly talked a lot about Jo’s essence and what needed to come as a kind of feeling state without words over the screen, which is really amorphous and difficult to execute.
To help capture her character’s vibe, between scenes she often hung out in the set of Jo’s studio and examined the paintings. “They are so kinetic and so emotionally turbulent that they were an immediate hook in for me to Jo. I love that. I have no painting/artistic ability at all but just to take a brush and pretend and follow the strokes of this artist and imagine was inspiring. Pierce is a painter. He paints and draws. On an artistic level it made me think about taking a painting class, even though I’m not good at it.”
An early scene that has her underneath her bed was both psychologically disturbing and physically challenging. “We would get under the bed when we were children, but I don’t know when I’ve been under my bed recently. It was kind of a tight-quarters stunt that they actually did have to pull me with velocity from under the bed. I couldn’t sleep that night thinking of a wife reaching out to her husband from beyond the living world. It’s pretty scary. From a physical, visceral experience of filming, that was one of my favorite scenes.” However, she says, the impact of such scenes doesn’t stay with her long, “Maybe I didn’t sleep for a couple of nights, but after the movie it’s gone. It hasn’t affected my life.”
She also had to undergo extensive makeup sessions. “This project has probably been one of the most physically challenging for me in the sense of the prosthetics. I had to do a four-hour make-up job three times and become the ghost of Jo. That was for me personally very scary. It was claustrophobic and you have to wear all of this gunk all over your body. That was challenging.”
A scene involving a bus crash early in the movie was also challenging. “It was a short scene but it was a very difficult scene to shoot, not diminished by the fact that it was freezing cold and raining in Halifax that day. It was very emotional. To speak to Pierce’s commitment level, he just went for it and brought his grief to life. It was emotional and wrenching.”
She didn’t read King’s novel until after she read the script and had started working on the project. She pointed out some differences between the two that are necessary for “the economy of bringing such a large piece to the screen, to television.” However, she continues, “what I found so impressive in hindsight was how Matt [Venne], the screenwriter, really captured the extent of that universe, that world—it’s kind of like three worlds. It’s Jo and Mike, and it’s Mattie and Mike and then it’s Sara Tidwell and Mike. There are some discrepancies but in general the essence of the project is very authentic and loyal to the book. The script was so tight once we went to production, and so good that our goal was just to be faithful to what we saw on the script pages.”
Though she only started reading King after doing Desperation, Gish has a copy of On Writing on the nightstand in her bedroom, and is currently reading Lisey’s Story, which see describes as “phenomenal.” She says that King’s books translate well into film “because he always has character at the heart of his horror. There is always a real human struggle within these extravagant, horrific circumstances. It’s reality pulled out to its most dramatic stakes. What Stephen King does so masterfully is the human element. He does love. He’s really an expert at writing about love, which is probably why all of his horror is so good.” She says that the miniseries “is not just a horror film or a mystery project or a thriller or a love story—it’s all of them. People will, on a purely entertainment level, be able to sit down, get a little scared, have a few tears, freak out and fall in love with these people.”
She is attracted to horror, but not for horror’s sake. The goal of Bag of Bones is “not just to scare the bejeezus out of anybody. It’s all wrapped very intricately in with a story about real drama and real heart and/or real mystery. This isn’t about zombies, this is about a love affair—three love affairs. This about solving a mystery. This is about race. This is about genealogy. It spans a whole expanse of things that I think people will be drawn to watch it for.”
She says that she “kind of believes” in ghosts and that spirits can exist and wander around. “I would say I have met some ghosts before, let’s just put it that way. I have danced with a few ghosts. I don’t know how you can’t. When you’re on a set, you’re inviting this world in, and if you’re open you can’t help but be sensitive to it. I’m not opposed to believing in it, that’s for sure.” However, what really scares her are catastrophic events, such as someone from her family being harmed.
Social media has played an important part in promoting Bag of Bones. Programs like Twitter neutralize the playing field, she says, by letting people know that “everybody is human and happy to share about their life and open up beyond their work. Pretty Little Liars is what got me started because their whole social network is humungous and electric and certainly wields a lot of power, I would say. They kind of were schooling me in Twitter and how to tweet and all that, and then you do realize that it is a wonderful new platform. It’s hard to define the line between being private and self-promoting. I don’t post pictures of my kids or my husband or anything intimate like that. I do try to use it mainly to publicize the work that I’m doing and also to show a little bit more who I am personally. But that’s me, not my family.”
She has been acting since the age of thirteen and feels lucky not to be pigeonholed in a certain kind of role or genre. In some ways, she feels that her career is just beginning. “Now that I’m forty and I have two children, I’m thinking more along specific lines. What do I want? Your clock starts ticking and you think, what do I want to really say with my work? Things are clicking into place and I feel much more compelled to be driven now, which is odd. I’m excited to see what the next ten years will bring. I think that they might bring a little more concentrated focus, perhaps.” She says she would love to dig deeper into flawed characters like the one she portrayed on Brotherhood, and she would also like to do action films. “A new phase for me, too, is to start developing things of my own that I have passion for, that I’m excited to bring and be more proactively involved in rather than just showing up and doing my job. To comprehensively create something.”
She never feels the need to shift gears when shifting genres. “As an actor, you just play the truth. Whomever you’re playing, whatever circumstances they’re in, whether they’re on a horse or they’re in a space ship or whatever, that’s their truth and you just play the truth. As long as you’re being honest and authentic, then you can cross any genre.”
Suspense greets Pierce Brosnan's return BY JAY BOBBIN Published: December 7, 2011
Before he was James Bond, he was Remington Steele ... and he's a Stephen King fan, a boon to Pierce Brosnan in his return to television.
The actor, whose recent projects included the movies “Mamma Mia!” and the Roman Polanski-directed “The Ghost Writer,” had a previous link to the iconic horror novelist through some aspects of the 1992 film “The Lawnmower Man.” He revisits King territory by playing an author literally haunted by a tragic loss in the new A&E Network two-part movie “Stephen King's Bag of Bones,” airing Sunday and Monday.
Brosnan channels King in portraying a writer, but the fictional wordsmith's circumstances differ. After his wife (Annabeth Gish) is killed in an accident, creatively blocked Mike Noonan (Brosnan) retreats to Maine and becomes enmeshed in a custody battle between a child's (Caitlin Carmichael) mother (Melissa George) and grandfather (William Schallert).
Jason Priestley (“Beverly Hills, 90210”) appears as Noonan's agent, who hopes his client will start turning out books again. That could be helped or hindered by the supernatural experiences the writer begins having.
Nearly every familiar King storytelling element is present in “Bag of Bones,” all the more cause for Brosnan to reason, “When you come to play King, you have to go full tilt. You can't shy away from what's on the page, and if you look at the actors who have played King characters, they're usually pretty assertive with their performances.”
Especially in the first half of “Bag of Bones,” when Brosnan has long sequences built largely on reactions to what his alter ego sees — or believes he's seeing, whether he's looking at a refrigerator or a coffin — his work is largely wordless and reactive, rather than holding to the tradition of delivering information to viewers through dialogue.
“Stephen King's Bag of Bones” was executive-produced and directed by Mick Garris, a longtime keeper of the King flame in putting the author's stories on film (“Sleepwalkers,” ABC's versions of “The Stand” and “The Shining”).
“Mick Garris is a seasoned and much-loved director of Stephen King's work, so I had him on my side. I knew I was safe with somebody who was going to look after my back, and his own take on the material was evident from Day One, even at the frantic pace at which we worked. We also had a fantastic crew, so most scenes were done in just two takes, three takes tops. It really did fly,” Brosnan said.
To his pleasure, Brosnan learned he was requested by King to be the central “Bag of Bones” star. “I was told he wanted me, and ... well, he got me, and I was very proud to do it. You say yes to something, but then you have to go and do it, and the enormity of the responsibility to the King world came crashing down.”
Can;t wait for the Mick Garris-directed adaptation of Stephen King's "Bag of Bones"? A&E's two-part mini-series starring Pierce Brosnan, Melissa George, Annabeth Gish, Anika Noni Jones, Matt Frewer and Jason Priestly airs on Sunday, December 11 and Monday, December 12, and to get you ready they've provided Amazon a five-minute long clip.
Mick Garris Rolls the “BAG OF BONES,” Part Two Posted by Abbie Bernstein Dec 07, 2011
Although BAG OF BONES, the two-part A&E telemovie based on Stephen King’s novel (premiering this Sunday, December 11 at 9 p.m./8 Central) takes place in the author’s frequent setting of Maine, it was lensed in Canada. “We shot in Nova Scotia, in and around Halifax,” says director Mick Garris (go here for the first part of this interview).
“At first, I fought really hard to shoot it in the U.S.,” Garris relates. “We tried in Maine—we actually met with the governor about creating an incentive program, like some of the other states would do, but then the state Senate would not go along with it. The electoral situation changed—the governorship of Maine switched over from Democratic to Republican, and they did not like the idea of having an incentive program for Hollywood productions there.
“Finances were definitely a consideration,” he continues, “so we went to all of the states that would be geographically appropriate to shoot this, where we could do a lake house. We made our international and ownership deals with Sony. They’re the ones who partnered with A&E on this and did the gap financing; they had been doing some production in Nova Scotia, and suggested we go there and scout it out. Geography was not my best class, so I had no idea that Nova Scotia is right next to Maine, and the topography and so much of what we were looking for was there that it turned out to be a really, really good place for us to shoot.”