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Stephen King’s 11.22.63 brought to life with James Franco



Time travel comes with its consequences. Hollywood has taught us that time travel has its rules and any attempt to play with them misfires badly. But, what are those rules? Do you follow the rules that superheroes like Superman do, the ones that mind-bending movies like Predestination depict, or those that our Doctor regularly break with his Tardis? The truth is that nobody has a damn clue about it – not the scientists, not the conspiracy theorists, and the least of them all, the Hollywood producers. So, when Stephen King decided that he would pen down his take on the subject matter, he naturally decided to do it in his own style in his novel 11/22/63. The novel has been very successful and has been developed into an awesome miniseries for Hulu. The episodes released so far take the audience on a thrilling adventure to the sixties. Backed by some of the biggest names in the business such as J.J. Abrams of Star Wars: The Force Awakens fame, Bridget Carpenter of Friday Night Lights fame, and James Franco (does he need any introduction!), the show has kept people on their seat edges waiting for the release of each episode. But, the story of how it all came to be is also quite fascinating.

 

Stephen King wrote the novel in 2011. But, the idea itself for the novel appeared in his mind as far back as 1971, three years before his first novel, Carrie, was published. At the time, he was a young English Teacher, who couldn’t find any decent publisher to print his writing. The idea slipped into the back of his mind, and other projects eventually took priority, which hurled him into the ranks of the most popular authors of all time. But, when he finally decided to write the novel, he realized the size of the challenge in front of him. The novel is primarily set in the late fifties and the early sixties. To ensure that the novel does justice to the era, he had to do immense research on the era. He did, and it all paid off. 11/22/63 sold millions of copies and was named by New York Times as one of the best five fictions of 2011. But, he was absolutely against it being anything but a thriller movie. So, what changed his mind?

Sarah Gadon plays Sadie Dunhill

Sarah Gadon plays Sadie Dunhill

One of the first people to approach King with rights for turning the novel into something for television was Jonathan Demme. For some time, King and Demme worked together to discuss whether it will be a good movie or a TV show. But, with King standing his ground on turning it into a movie, and the two not being able to agree on what to be omitted, the collaboration fell off. It was actually J. J. Abrams that convinced King that it would be best converted into a miniseries. James Franco was chosen to play the lead role of Jake Epping. Even his casting had a luck factor to it. James Franco apparently picked the novel at an airport and was very impressed by it. He saw huge potential in it, and thought that it could be turned into something really watchable. When he contacted King about the rights, he came to know about Abrams already having them. So fascinated for Franco with it that he had written an article for Vice on the novel. This caught Abrams’ attention, who offered him the lead role in the miniseries.

Franco is trying to prevent JFK's assassination

Franco is trying to prevent JFK’s assassination

James Franco plays the role of Jake Epping, a typical English teacher, who is going through a rough time of his own. He is getting divorced and has very recently lost his father. As part of his job, he gives students an assignment to write about a day that changed their lives. Jake frequents a diner, which is run by a guy named Al. Over the years, the two have become friends. One day, AI takes him to the diner’s pantry. Jake learns that there is a time portal in the pantry, and it always takes people to the exact same date in 1960. While Jake is still wrapping his mind around this, he asks Al how he has a time portal in the back of his diner, to which Al expresses his ignorance. Al tells Jake that no matter how much time Jake spends in the past through the time portal, only two minutes will have passed in the present time.

Josh Duhamel plays Frank Dunning

Josh Duhamel plays Frank Dunning

However, Al states that he has used the time portal many times, and the last time he returned from the portal, he was already in the advanced stage of cancer.

Al proposes to Jake that since the time portal takes people to 1960, which is 3 years before the assassination of JFK, the assassination itself can be prevented by killing Lee Harvey Oswald, before he shot the President. Al, being a veteran, also claims that if JFK was alive, then the Vietnam War, and many such tragedies could have been prevented. Jake initially refuses to become a part of this thing, but eventually does end up liking the idea. However, Al dies by the time Jake decides to agree to the mission. Armed with a set of instructions from AI, which he had listed down for him, Jake goes to 1960 to follow Oswald, investigate whether he was working with others or alone, and to stop him from carrying out his assassination. Of course, he had to fall in love in the 1960s, while trying to save the world in a highly complicated way, with a completely uncertain future hanging on his actions. Also, any attempts to change the time will be met with great resistance by the universe, which will try to make things the same as they were before.

11.22.63 is a Hulu original

11.22.63 is a Hulu original

James Franco has managed to deliver an excellent performance as Jake Epping. Without the high level scientific explanations of the time travel and their loopholes, this miniseries pursues only what really matters for the show – an excellent story. Whether Franco will be able to save the President will be something that the audience will soon be able to find out. Each episode of the 8-part miniseries, including the pilot, is released every week on Hulu. Out of these, four of the episodes have already been on air, and the audience won’t have to wait much longer to have their curiosity fulfilled. When you purchase an internet and cable television package, you can watch Hulu wherever you want.

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