Stephen King Didn’t Want Stanley Kubrick To Cast Jack Nicholson in The Shining, Didn’t Like the Actor’s Looks Enough

The author has been very vocal about his disappointment towards the film.

Stephen King Didn’t Want Stanley Kubrick To Cast Jack Nicholson in The Shining, Didn’t Like the Actor’s Looks Enough

SUMMARY

  • Stephen King is one of the most well-known fiction writers in the world and his horror books are extremely influential.
  • King has been vocal about his disappointment towards Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining.
  • One of his biggest concerns was the casting of Jack Nicholson in the lead role as he felt the character should be played by someone ‘normal looking’.
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Author Stephen King is one of the highest-selling and one of the most popular fiction writers in the world. He is known for his extensive work in the horror genre. One of his most famous horror novels is The Shining, which became even more well-known after Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation.

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King famously disregarded the film adaptation as it had deviated quite a bit from the novel. He has mentioned many reasons for his dislike of the film, and one of his biggest criticisms was the casting of Jack Nicholson. King reportedly felt that Nicholson looked too deranged and that the audience would get to know early that the character would go mad.

Also read: “I gave Stanley Kubrick a live grenade”: Stephen King Blasted The Shining Adaptation, Felt Director Butchered His Novel Despite Film’s Cult Status

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Stephen King Hated Stanley Kubrick’s Adaptation Of The Shining

Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick

Directed Stanley Kubrick apparently chose to make The Shining after his previous film Bary Lyndon did not do well at the box office. He reportedly asked his assistants to bring him a pile of horror novels for him to adapt and would loudly throw them at the wall after being unimpressed by the first few pages. When his secretary noticed that there had been no noise yet, she found him reading Stephen King’s novel.

Kubrick’s film is often listed among the greatest horror films of all time and has become an irreplaceable part of pop culture. However, Stephen King was reportedly unimpressed with the film and has on many occasions disregarded it as a bad adaptation. King had major criticism about the portrayal of the lead characters in the film.

Also read: “Everybody was rushing toward me”: Tom Hanks’ Co-star Was Left Traumatized By His Role in Stephen King Adaptation

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Stephen King
Stephen King

King has mentioned that it was the first film adaptation of his that he remembered hating and that he did not have artistic control over the development. He spoke about his opinion in The Drew Barrymore Show,

“Well, I didn’t really like the movie that much, but I did like the little boy that played Danny Torrance…The book was warm and the movie was cold. It was a Kubrick film and don’t get me wrong, I love everything else the man did. I just didn’t like that one. The greatest thing about it is if you’re not involved, if it’s really good, you can say that’s based on my book. If it’s really bad, you can say, I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

The author also reportedly had a huge issue with the casting of Jack Nicholson in the film.

Also read: The Shining Actor Broke Down Into Tears While Working With Clint Eastwood After Being Traumatized By Stanley Kubrick On Set

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Why Did Stephen King Hate Jack Nicholson’s Casting In The Film?

Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance
Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance

One of the biggest changes that Stanley Kubrick made in the film was to never explicitly state that the Overlook Hotel was haunted, and instead implied that the horror was more psychological. The casting of Jack Nicholson, who played Jack Torrance, made it even more obvious that the character is psychotic from the beginning.

This was precisely one of the reasons why Stephen King did not like the casting of Nicholson in The Shining. King mentioned that Torrance’s eventual descent into madness was a tragedy and that was the arc that was missing in the film. The writer spoke to Deadline about the film,

“When we first see Jack Nicholson, he’s in the office of Mr. Ullman, the manager of the hotel, and you know, then, he’s crazy as a shit house rat. All he does is get crazier. In the book, he’s a guy who’s struggling with his sanity and finally loses it. To me, that’s a tragedy. In the movie, there’s no tragedy because there’s no real change.”

Hence, the writer felt that an actor who would look normal would not make the character’s madness apparent. King reportedly suggested actors such as Michael Moriarty, Jon Voight, and Martin Sheen for the role. But, Stanley Kubrick chose Jack Nicholson at the end.

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Also read: Robert De Niro Was Deemed Not Psychotic Enough For ‘The Shining’ By Stanley Kubrick After Watching His Most Deranged Role

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Written by Nishanth A

Articles Published: 831

Nishanth A is a Media, English and Psychology graduate from Bangalore. He is an avid DC fanboy and loves the films of Christopher Nolan. He has published over 400 articles on FandomWire. When he's not fixating on the entire filmography of a director, he tries to write and direct films.