This summer, the USA Network adds a new original series to its prime time lineup. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, THE DEAD ZONE's new interpretation stars Anthony Michael Hall (SIXTEEN CANDLES, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, and THE PIRATES OF SILICON VALLEY) and Nicole de Boer (STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE, RATED X).
For those unfamiliar with the novel, THE DEAD ZONE centers on Johnny Smith and the changes he experiences after emerging from a coma: his fiancé, Sarah Bracknell, is married to another man; his son has no idea who he is; and he has strange psychic powers that manifest themselves through human contact. If those weren't enough reasons to sign on to this bold new project, de Boer has one special reason of her own: love.
"I was drawn to the romantic aspect of it," says de Boer. "I find the idea of this couple that is so in love, to have this terrible accident happen and to have [Johnny] in a coma, and to have him wake up after six years, to be terribly romantic. [It's] just so amazing, how they have to deal with their lives from that point [on] in this small town, [with Johnny] having to know my husband and deal with him on a regular basis, and [the] amazing triangle that creates.
"If you really stop and think about [what would] happen to you and [your] emotions and the love that you would still have, where would that take you?" asks de Boer. "What you would do and what choices would you make? I was very interested by [those] human aspects."
Hall, on the other hand, says it was his admiration for Stephen King and the complexities of the show's character that drew him into the project.
"I want to be a part of this," says Hall. "Stephen King is the most prolific and the most branded of all modern writers. He's a great writer and a gifted storyteller. These aren't cardboard cutouts of characters; these are characters that are very layered. Very textured."
Revamping a role that audiences largely associate with Christopher Walken could have easily been a daunting prospect for almost any actor. However, Hall is not concerned with comparisons. He is more concerned with how the impact of his interpretation of Johnny will affect the audience.
"If two million [of USA's reportedly 85 million viewers] go into work the next day and go, 'He's not Walken,' that's cool," says Hall. "I have no hang-ups of being compared to him at all. I'm not trying to be him, on any level. I don't think that was our intent. We're trying to do something original that's from a book."
De Boer agrees with her co-star and believes that Hall has the dramatic chops to take Johnny's role to new heights.
"Had they cast someone [who looked like Walken] or something like that and it was an actor [who] wasn't that good, then people would be coming in the office the next day saying, 'You know, that wasn't Walken,'" says de Boer. "But a few minutes into watching the show you go, 'That's the guy.' You forget about the Christopher Walken thing. Michael's fabulous in [the role]. You don't even think about that comparison."
Following in the genre tradition, visual effects are going to be incorporated into the action of the show to help tell Johnny's story. Hall is excited about how technical storytelling is going to enhance the series.
"There isn't technically any action, in terms of fights or chases or anything like that," says Hall. "But there's a movement to it and there's a way that we're going to use visual effects as a device to take the character somewhere. It's amazing. It feels like action. There's a lot of movement in it. We're using morphing backgrounds and [utilizing] 360-degree tracks around the camera."
While the show's stars can't comment on the creative future of the show, one thing is certain. Both Hall and de Boer can't wait to see what the show's writers pull out of their proverbial hat.
"It's going to be exciting to us, as actors, not knowing [stories] until we get the script," says Hall. "That's part of the surprise of working in this medium. We've discussed some general ideas, which I think are fantastic. Stay tuned."
"From what I gathered from talking to the writers, they've got so many great ideas that span from a sort of general idea, to what could happen if he touched this person, to very specific things," says de Boer. "So, there's so many things to cover and, like Michael says, it's going to be interesting to see where it goes."