‘The Mist’ Preview: Morgan Spector Says TV Version ‘Expands on the Universe’ Stephen King Created So More ‘Things Go Horribly Awry’

Boardwalk Empire alum Morgan Spector is trading Prohibition for paranormal weather patterns when he returns to TV after a short-lived stint on Allegiance to play a Maine dad whose day goes from bad — his wife is fired — to worse — his daughter blacked out at a party and believes the star jock raped her — to apocalyptic when a deadly mist rolls into town and separates him from his family.

Spector, on the other hand, as a Stephen King fan since he was a kid, had the time of his life filming a TV version of the author’s novella in scenic Nova Scotia. “It’s intense to be immersed in that kind of storyline for months,” Spector tells Yahoo TV of filming The Mist, which premieres Thursday. “But who can say no to a chance to work on a King adaptation? His influence on American culture can’t be overstated.”

Spector also teased how the original concept of the monster-filled mist has been expanded and morphed for the small screen, as have the characters. He also shares which King projects rank as his favorites, what he’s afraid of IRL, and what the scariest moment on set was.

If you had to explain the show in one sentence to someone who knew nothing, what would you say?
A mysterious mist descends on a small Maine town and chaos ensues.

This is not the first incarnation of The Mist. How will this one be different from the others? Why should people watch this one?
I think what is exciting about our series is that we take all the interesting elements of Stephen King’s novella and then we are going farther. Frank Darabont’s [2007] movie adaptation was faithful to the story apart from the ending, which was extremely surprising to everyone. Obviously to make a TV series instead of a one-off feature, we needed to expand on the ideas King created. That allowed us to expand on the universe. We got to take characters and give them backstories and more to do and that allowed us to create smaller microcosms beset by unknown and uncanny supernatural forces. It explodes the tiny grocery store setting into an entire town. It becomes more sprawling. There are three main locations once the fog rolls in, and each has a different set of experiences. As a result, the world is richer and many more things can and do go horribly awry for these characters over the course of the season.

The mist itself is not exactly the same either, judging by the pilot.
I think the specific mechanism of how the mist acts on the body and why it kills people the way it kills people is part of why it is surprising and unexpected. I don’t even think we really find that out entirely in Season 1. People will get a strong suspicion because there is an element of psychological revelation in terms of how the mist interacts with each character. So I think people will start to develop theories. It does not work in the same way as in the film or the novella. In the novella, the mist obscures monsters. There are creatures that are really dangerous hidden in the mist. Ours works differently depending on who the character is. And what is happening or what has happened in their lives.

Morgan Spector as Kevin Copeland in Spike’s ‘The Mist’ (Photo Credit: Chris Reardon/Spike TV)

What interested you about this role?
I was intrigued by the pilot script. I thought the idea of putting a nice, modern, liberal guy at the center of this small-town horror show was a unique choice. Usually the central characters in these types of stories are stoic. They are cops or men of violence already. This is a guy who is just a normal progressive suburban dad. What happens to his values when he walks out into the apocalypse? That’s how our showrunner Christian [Torpe] presented it to me, and I responded to his vision. It is always a bit of a risk when you sign up for a show that could potentially last six years. That’s a lot of anything. But Christian is a really smart guy and he has a wonderful ear for human beings. No matter what the genre, if the dialogue sounds like actual human beings talking to each other, that’s interesting and challenging to an actor.

Morgan Spector as Kevin Copelant, Okezie Morro as Bryan Hunt, Danica Curcic as Mia Lambert, and Russell Posner as Adrian Garf in Spike’s The Mist’ (Photo Credit: Spike TV)

In the pilot, we realize that your wife grew up in this town and that many of the residents, like in most small towns and most King books, are interconnected and/or hiding something. Will we find out more about his past, his wife’s past, or other townspeople’s backgrounds as the show goes on?
Absolutely. It is a radically structured season because these people are thrust into this maelstrom of horror pretty quickly and you don’t actually know that much about them. But as it starts to unfold over the course of the season, we will learn more about how these people are connected and what the history is between them and what they are hiding and more importantly what the dynamics are between them. And as you do find out how the mist is connected to who these people are and how their lives were already driven by some powerful entity or version of the mist and now that it has arrived in its allegorical form, what matters is the history between these people. A lot of old, ugly secrets come to light and a lot of alliances that develop over the course of the season happen out of necessity, but they are complicated and uneasy.

These kinds of stories are meant to thrill and scare, but I always wonder if they are at all scary to film given that so much is added in special effects and you have the script in advance. What was the scariest thing that happened while filming?
There was a car accident. Unplanned and really scary. Someone was supposed to pull out of a shot and drive around the corner at speed, but this guy peeled out and lost control of his car as it went around the corner. We all heard this sickening sound where you immediately know something has gone horribly wrong. Luckily everyone was OK. That was the scariest concrete thing that happened, but living in this environment mentally, this constant state of anxiety and tension for four months, it is tough on the body. It filters in.

What are you afraid of in real life?
I get really frightened of the limited mental acuity of the guy who currently has the key to the nuclear codes. That scares the shit out of me. Also the f***ing Internet, which is a weird thing to say to Yahoo probably, but the addictive quality of information right now terrifies me. Also when I was a kid I watched that thing where the kids go out on a raft — actually now that I think about it I think it was also based on a Stephen King story — and the blob seeps up through it and kills them. I was terrified of that thing for years, anytime I went near a lake or a pool or a drain.

Alyssa Sutherland as Eve Copeland in Spike’s ‘The Mist’ (Photo Credit: Spike TV)

It is amazing to me how many of my fears are attributed at least in part to a King book. Clowns, rabid dogs, black lake blobs, creepy twins, and big old hotels.
Me too. There is a reason he is so successful. He is extremely good at what he does.

Are you a King fan? What was the first Stephen King book you read or film/TV series based on his work that you saw?
Yeah. I guess it was probably Creepshow. But I also loved Stand By Me. That still very much holds up. To be honest, I got to know his work through adaptations first and then I started reading the books. But that is not a bad thing. Some of the adaptations of his work are some of the best movies of the 20th century like Shawshank Redemption to The Shining. His influence on American culture can’t be overstated. It is staggering. Can anyone claim not to be a fan? I went through a big period where I was gobbling up his fiction, staying up late and being scared sh**less. The ideas that he comes up with just stick with you. You can’t help but worry what if this or that is real. Not to mention that often he dabbles in the horrors that men do.

Where did you film? It looks beautiful, especially your house on the lake.
Oh man, it was beautiful. That location was a little piece of paradise. I still think about it. That is a place called Chocolate Lake. It is outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is where we shot all of it. Nova Scotia looks a lot like Maine. It isn’t too far from Maine actually. It is gorgeous scenery. Our studio was in an old mall in a suburb just outside of Halifax called Bedford and most of the exteriors were shot in Windsor, which is an incredible stand-in for Maine. I heard it was the birthplace of hockey. The church and things like that were there. It was a really pleasant place to live for a few months.

And given your aforementioned fears, I’m guessing you are looking forward to heading back if you’re graced with a Season 2. Are you ready to go full Canadian?
What would that look like? I’d start wearing a lot more denim and eating poutine regularly? Not a bad trade, all said.

The Mist airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Spike.

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