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The Dead Zone was the first film that horror filmmaker David Cronenberg directed that he hadn’t written.
“I was very much attracted to the [small-town] characters of The Dead Zone,” Cronenberg said. “I wanted very much to fuse my own sensibility with that aspect of Stephen King’s sensibility to make a film that would perhaps be different from either of us separately – but hoping that the strengths were what were coming together.
Dive behind-the-scenes of the thriller below.
1. A comedian was the first considered.
Stephen King originally asked for the lead to be played by… Bill Murray. Director David Cronenberg, on the other hand, wanted actor Nicholas Campbell. In the end, Bill Murray was busy with Ghostbusters, Campbell got the role of a police officer, and Christopher Walken took the lead.
2. Stephen King wrote the first draft.
Adapting the novel was especially hard as producers struggled to find the right mix of being faithful to the source material while also making it cinematic. “Stephen King’s own script was terrible,” director David Cronenberg, explaining that the author lost the essence of his own novel by focusing on the serial killer sub-plot. The team decided to use the best parts of the episodic novel, while keeping Walken's character front-and-center.
3. A potential lawsuit caused a reshoot.
Cronenberg chose to have Christopher Walken’s character appear physically in his own visions in order to portray the emotionally draining nature of his power. However, one vision caused quite a stir. Originally, an E.T. doll was visible in one of the visions, and Universal Pictures wasn’t happy. They were forced to re-shoot the scene in order to avoid a potential lawsuit.