Ehren Kruger talks The Talisman

Posted: September 29, 2004, 23:25
Ehren Kruger talks about The Talisman in an interview with Dread Central.

So what can you tell us about your work on The Talisman script?

EK: I wrote a few drafts of The Talisman (an adaptation of the Stephen King/Peter Straub novel) last year. A couple writers worked on the project before me, and a couple writers have worked on it since. However, the producers and studio were pleased enough with my version to expose it to filmmakers. Two directors signed on and later signed off, after being unable to agree with the studio and producers on what the precise tone and style of the movie should be. This is usually called "creative differences," which is not a euphemism but a very real and worthwhile reason to part ways on a project.

The reason the project has spent such a long time in development is that it is no easy task to condense an 800-page odyssey of a horror-fantasy novel into a single two-hour movie. To adapt the book faithfully would require an 8 or 10 hour miniseries. And yet there is a wonderful, simple story at the novel’s core that a feature film could certainly do justice to. Hopefully the right director will come along and make the project a reality. As for now, I’ve moved onto other things and am not actively involved with the script.

JB: Since you're not actively involved as of now, can you give us an idea of what was different in your version, or what you had focused on the most in your draft?

EK: In my drafts, a lot was changed from the book. The focus was on the book’s strength (in my opinion) – Jack’s cross-country quest to save his mother’s life and his unlikely alliance and friendship with Wolf. The time frame was condensed to a few days to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and so a number of Jack’s stops along the way and many secondary characters were excised entirely. The novel is a horror/fantasy hybrid and my drafts emphasized the latter. My mandate was to write a two-hour PG-13 movie, so most of my story choices were made with that in mind. If my mandate had been to write an R-rated cable miniseries, my drafts would have been notably different.

JB: I had heard a lot of the quest stuff was removed from your draft, like you said some of the stops made and so forth. What about The Territories? Was there any action taking place there or was it more focused on our side of things?

EK: Sounds like you are pretty familiar with the book. In my drafts, the Territories were visited on several occasions, but not as often as in the novel. It covers much more ground than we possibly could. Some of this was for budgetary reasons, and some was due to the fact that the novel’s "parallel world," of course, affects the real one. Since the movie’s focus was to be on Jack and Wolf, many of the most valuable parts of the book for our purposes involved those where Wolf was a stranger in Jack’s world. And of course, I can only speak to the drafts I was involved in; subsequent writers may have changed my choices of what to keep or discard quite thoroughly.

JB: I really hope that if and when it does get off the ground they're able to treat it with the respect it deserves. From the sounds of it you had the right idea for condensing it to its barest essentials, which would be necessary to make such a long book into a two-hour film...

Thanks to Bev Vincent.