20th Century

‘The Boogeyman’ Star David Dastmalchian On The Challenges Of Bringing Stephen King To The Big Screen

Stephen King is one of the most adapted authors of all time. In fact, if you have a favorite horror film released in the last 5 decades chances are that he probably wrote the source material it was based on. Unsurprisingly, the latest film based on one of his works, The Boogeyman, is absolutely terrifying. That’s even with some major liberties taken.

One of the biggest changes is the fact that the original story’s protagonist, played by genre actor David Dastmalchian here, appears a pivotal supporting character. Despite having a small amount of screen time, during the official press conference for the film, Dastmalchian talked about how much of an honor it still was to be responsible for bringing King’s words to life.

“[It was] was such an immense amount of pressure,” he said. “[Not just] the fact that you’re bringing a character to life from the imagination of, but also, because the place that Lester’s coming from is just one of those corners of the human experience that nobody really would care to ever spend time in. And so, the challenge of even having the courage to be willing to go there was the first challenge for me.”

The character he’s referring to is Lester Billings. When we first meet him, he’s a broken man who has lost all three of his kids to The Boogeyman. On paper, his story sounds crazy. But thanks to a very chilling opening scene, the audience knows he’s telling the truth.

Dastmalchian confessed that he didn’t think he could play the character at first. “I didn’t feel like I had the capacity to embody Lester in a way that would do justice to the film that Rob [Savage] was going to make,” he said.

After a short meeting with Savage, he felt slightly more confident about doing the role. But it wasn’t until he sat down to his scene with Chris Messina’s character that he really became Lester.

READ: Director Rob Savage On Creating A New, Scarier Creature To Call ‘The Boogeyman’

“The energy that started going between us was so powerful,” he said. “I prepared, of course, like, I had a lot of thoughts and ideas going into this. But you show up and you just throw that stuff out. And you try to just be present and listen and it was pretty awesome.”

“It’s such a thrill to get to be with people you trust and you can throw yourselves off a cliff and know that they’re there to catch you and
that they’re gonna protect you,” he added, praising the entire cast and crew for being so supportive and understanding the darkness he had to really sink down to in order to play Lester.

“There’s mental anguish and spiritual anguish that all these characters are going through,” he said. But he affirmed that the story’s willingness to show how everybody is scared sometimes is the reason most people will really connect to it. “Do I think that there’s maybe somebody hiding in my closet? No,” he said. “Am I terrified that the things that I’ve struggled with in my life are always looming around the corner or under my bed or just down the hall and they could pop out at any second and take me over? Of course, I am.”

READ: ‘White Men Can’t Jump (2023)’ Movie Review: A Surprisingly Enjoyable Remake

Based on a short story from King’s 1978 horror anthology titled Night Shift, the film will reportedly revolve around a 16-year-old and her younger sister, still struggling after the death of their mother, who become targeted by a supernatural boogeyman psychologist father has an encounter with a mysterious patient in their house.

Chris Messina (The Mindy Project), Sophie Thatcher (The Book of Boba Fett), Vivien Lyra Blair (Obi-Wan Kenobi), David Dastmalchian (Ant-Man), Marin Ireland (The Empty Man) and Madison Hu (Bizaardvark) star.

Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place) wrote the film, who worked on the screenplay along with Mark Heyman (Black Swan). Rob Savage, who helmed Shudder’s viral pandemic film Host, is the director.

The Boogeyman is in theaters now.

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