EXCLUSIVE: MGM has set Alex Ross Perry to adapt and direct The Dark Half, a new adaptation of the 1989 Stephen King bestseller. Perry popped after writing, directing and producing Her Smell, the drama that premiered at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival, and for which Elisabeth Moss is Spirit Awards-nominated for her portrayal as a self-destructive rock star.
Perry plans a reinvention of a story first turned into a 1993 MGM film by the late zombie impresario George Romero. That film starred Timothy Hutton as an author whose books sell OK and have a literary vibe to them. They don’t sell nearly as well as grisly crime thrillers he writes under an alter ego. Once his pseudonym is exposed, the author and his wife decide to give the other author a ceremonial burial. And then the people who were involved in doing that start turning up dead as it appears the alter ago has taken on a life of his own.
The prolific King wrote the novel as a reaction to being outed for secretly writing thriller novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. I still remember when he owned up to it, as it unlocked a treasure trove of page turners for voracious fans of his work like myself, who was gobbling up everything he wrote and then suddenly there were books Thinner, Running Man, Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork and a few others that immediately became bestsellers when exposed by a bookstore clerk who figured out the ruse.
King was turning out big bestsellers by that point like Carrie, Salem’s Lot and The Shining with The Stand nearly done and his publishers reticent about him introducing even more fiction that would cannibalize sales. King has said when he figured out the solution to write under another name, Bachman Turner Overdrive record was playing on the radio, and on his desk was a novel by Richard Stark, the pseudonym for Donald E. Westlake. From there, Richard Bachman was born and after the truth came out, King got another novel out of it with The Dark Half. His thriller about an author and his sinister parasitic twin became so big it was only outsold that year by Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger.
Now, it will be the subject of another movie from an up-and-coming filmmaker who is a fanatic for King’s fiction. Perry is repped by WME and Mosaic, King by Paradigm.