You saw him in full clown makeup for last year’s It. Here, Bill Skarsgård goes a bit more subtle on the set of Shawshank State Prison, where his nameless mystery character is incarcerated. “I used extreme contouring with highlights and shading to make him pale and gaunt,” says key makeup artist Sandra Linn, who added facial hair and dirt “for his most unkempt looks.” Spooky!
Sissy Spacek and André Holland (Moonlight), who play widow Ruth Deaver and her adopted son, Henry, shoot a scene in the dining room of the family home in Castle Rock. “Sissy is an incredible collaborator,” executive producer–creator Dustin Thomason says of the Stephen King vet (1976’s Carrie). “She loves to roll up her sleeves and dig in with the crew and cast.”
In a climate that could change in seconds, cast members like Scott Glenn had to be ready for anything—say, an out-of-nowhere thunderstorm—when filming outside. “The weather is serious in New England,” executive producer–creator Sam Shaw says. “Sometimes in winter, [we were shooting at] 3 o’clock in the morning and it was freezing.” Seems Castle Rock gives everyone the shivers!
Melanie Lynskey shoots a moment from the pilot where her character, real estate agent Molly, steers around an unwanted encounter. The citizens of Orange, Massachusetts—Castle Rock’s primary location (they also shot in nearby Dennis)—quickly adapted to sharing their streets with cameras. “We developed a great relationship,” Thomason says of the locals. “Everybody pitched in.”
Guest star Terry O’Quinn (who plays Shawshank State Prison warden Dale Lacy) and executive producer J.J. Abrams (below right, with O’Quinn) also worked together on Lost, another eerie drama, but one with a vastly different setting. “New England is where European colonists began a conquest of a big unknown continent,” Thomason says. “The land is a repository of their fears and anxieties.”
Holland and Lynskey take a break (and share a laugh) with director Mike Uppendahl. As with many productions, Castle Rock’s narrative was filmed out of order. “In the premiere, there are scenes shot on day one, including big, wild set pieces, and scenes shot on our very last day,” says Shaw, who calls the seven-month production “a huge undertaking.”
Jane Levy’s Jackie disrespects a Castle Rock church. Of her character, Thomason hints, “She has a healthy appreciation of the macabre. What she wants more than anything is for something to happen to her.” The former Suburgatory star takes the part and runs with it. Adds Thomason: “She comes to life onscreen in a way that’s really fun to watch and fascinating.”
The cast of Castle Rock, this dark, mysterious thriller, had to worry less about things that go bump in the night and more about the fickle, often foul weather of New England.