When director Scott Cooper replaced Ben Affleck as writer and director of the Stephen King adaptation "The Stand" for Warner Brothers and CBS Films, you could hear the sound of jaws dropping all over Hollywood. The former actor had one critically acclaimed hit under his belt with "Crazy Heart," but taking on a sprawling project like King's 800+ page novel was another thing entirely.
Since then, Cooper has been relatively mum on the project. But with the multi-hyphenate's second feature "Out Of The Furnace" in theaters this December, MTV News had to ask him for an update during a recent press junket.
"It's a daunting challenge to take a long novel, a beloved novel, and condense that into a standalone film," Cooper said on the adaptation. "It's a process. There's a reason that film hasn't been made. It's the themes, and the scope, and the size."
The book, long considered one of King's best works, shows what happens when a deadly flu strain nicknamed "Captain Trips" is released, killing most of the world's population. What follows is not just a post-apocalyptic survival tale, but also an epic supernatural battle between good and evil to decide the fate of what remains of humanity. The story has previously been adapted into a critically acclaimed 1994 TV mini-series, as well as numerous Marvel comics.
Despite the big budget trappings, Cooper is hoping to take a very different, much more down-to-earth slant on directing the feature. "My approach, much like 'Out of The Furnace' is searingly realistic [and grounded]," Cooper continued. "That can be a very expensive endeavor, one that maybe doesn't marry with how a movie like that should be shot, just because of the sheer expense."
Adding to that expense would be the sprawling locations of "The Stand's" narrative, which range from Nebraska to Las Vegas, and all over the rest of the United States. Good thing Cooper can shoot on a sound stage, right? Wrong:
"I prefer to shoot on location," Cooper said in response to the idea of shooting in a studio. "It imbues the entire production with a sense of place and authenticity that I strive for. I'm certain that whether consciously or subconsciously it affects the actor's performances, and the crew, quite frankly. It's critical to my process that I shoot not only where I've written the screenplay, but shooting the exact locations I wrote it for."
Cooper isn't just tied to shooting on location, either. He's also formed a strong bond with "Out of the Furnace" star Christian Bale, and hopes to bring him on to "The Stand."
"Well, Christian's a part of everything I'm writing, and I tend to share things with Christian in the infancy stage that I don't share with other people," Cooper said on the prospect of Bale joining "The Stand." "He's become one of my, not just closest friends, but a great collaborator, and wouldn't be surprised to see me and Christian teaming up on many things."
That's certainly far from a confirmation, but for fans of King's novel the prospect of Bale as the villainous Randall Flagg is a tempting one. We'll have more on that tomorrow.
As of now, there is no official release date for "The Stand." "Out of the Furnace" is in theaters December 6, 2013.