From show co-creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason and executive producer J.J. Abrams, the Hulu psychological-horror series Castle Rock is an original story set in the Stephen King multi-verse that mines his best-loved works and plays with themes of darkness and light, all while set in this small Maine town that is full of strange occurrences, mysteries and all manner of sin. Castle Rock is a place with a history that is clearly unsettling, and as its mysteries start to unravel, audiences will want to follow all of the twists and turns to its sure to be creepy conclusion. The series stars André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Sissy Spacek, Bill Skarsgård, Jane Levy and Scott Glenn.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Jane Levy (who plays Castle Rock local Jackie) talked about how secretive things were before she signed on for Castle Rock, why Jackie has been one of her favorite characters to play, how familiar she was with the work of Stephen King, why she loves the small town drama feel of the story, whether she’d want to visit the town of Castle Rock, if it were a real place, and how surprising the twists and turns of the season will be. She also talked about her experience working on Twin Peaks: The Return, and why it brought her to tears.
Collider: So, I’ve watched the first four episodes of the show and even though I’m still not entirely sure where things are going yet, I’m really digging it.
JANE LEVY: Cool! I’m so glad.
As a Stephen King fan, I love that this is inspired by his works, but it’s not a direct adaptation because then you have no idea where it’s going to end up. When this came your way, how exactly was it presented to you?
LEVY: Well, it was quite secretive, which I’m told is basic principle when it comes to Bad Robot projects. When I auditioned, I believe I knew that it was a Hulu show, that André Holland was attached, that my character was a teenager but could play older, that Dustin Thomason and Sam Shaw were writing it, and that J.J. Abrams of Bad Robot was producing, along with Warner Brothers. I’m pretty sure that’s all I knew. They barely gave me any information on my character. They said that she’s Goth, but not in a typical way. That was the only information that I got. And then, after I got the job, they let me read the pilot. I’m not in the pilot now, but originally I was. They moved things around, but I was only in one scene and I still didn’t really have a full grasp on who Jackie was. So, after I sat down with the creators and we flushed it out together, I was so honored to play this part. She’s one of my favorite girls that I’ve been given the honor to play, so far. She is a freak in a way that I find really funny and charming, and in a way that I also relate to. I am also a little bit obsessed with morbidity and darker stories and fantasy and underworld. I’m into secrets, I’m into gossip and I’m into the dark side, and Jackie is very much like that. I really like that about her.
If you didn’t even know exactly what show you would be making or what character you would be playing, what got you excited about the project?
LEVY: That happens a lot with TV. I was on a network show (ABC’s Suburgatory) for three years, and you don’t know what’s gonna happen until you have the table read, the week before you shoot the next episode. I know there are some television shows that, episodically, you don’t have to watch the last show, and that’s maybe more the world that I existed in when I was working on Suburgatory. I think it’s really fun that you’re always evolving together. With [Castle Rock], in particular, the writers, producers and directors were all such intelligent people that I just went along for the ride. I’m sure that when you’re a huge movie star, you are important and powerful, but I’ve always been of the mind-set that an actor is just another crew member, so I’m just showing up to work and doing the job that my boss has asked me to do. And so, when it comes to TV, I trust the writers, especially with a mystery. It’s pretty fun to discover as the audience does, but at a different time. Each time that we got an episode, it was the first time I’d ever read it.
How familiar were you with the work of Stephen King? When you come across the references in the scripts, do you pick up on them, or do you have to have someone point them out to you?
LEVY: There was a lot of talk about Stephen King on set, so I didn’t necessarily need people to point it out for me. Personally, I was not that familiar. I have only ever read Carrie. I didn’t even realize, until making the show, how many classics were based off of Stephen King books. I didn’t know The Shining was based off of Stephen King. I didn’t know that Shawshank Redemption was Stephen King. What a prolific man.
Did you know, from the beginning, that this would be a seasonal anthology series that would follow different characters in different seasons?
LEVY: Yes, I knew that. They let me in on that.
This show feels like a small town drama, with the tone of a Stephen King story.
LEVY: That’s a good way to explain it
Do you find yourself connected to that aspect of this story?
LEVY: Small town drama is my favorite, whether it’s Twin Peaks, Broadchurch or Top of the Lake. Small town drama is definitely something that lures me in. It’s so representative of everything about human nature. You can see it all in your small town and in your community. Especially if you’ve grown up someplace, there’s just so many layers, so much history, and so much drama to uncover. I love small town drama.