Getting Doctor Sleep adapted for the big screen took convincing Stephen King to revisit an infamous past grievance.
ET's Ash Crossan recently sat down with director Mike Flanagan at the film's Los Angeles press day, where he discussed how he approached his pitch to the renowned author, which wasn't easy. Over the years, King has been outspoken about his issues with Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of his novel, The Shining, which went on to become a horror classic. Flanagan explained that, in convincing King to sign off on his adaptation, he argued that they had to incorporate the world that Kubrick created in his film.
"In the beginning, when we were developing the script, I said, 'Well, this is what I think this is what I would do: There's only one way to make this movie and that's to acknowledge the cinematic impact of Kubrick's film. That's the language that everyone knows when they think of the Overlook and the Torrances. This could be a real chance to celebrate that,'" he shared. "But it could be a real opportunity to take those two visions, which still to this day, is something that [King] has very strong feelings about, and try to bring them back together. To try to reconcile them, even if only a little...and that, as a fan, was an irresistible opportunity."
"After he heard me out and heard how I would approach it and why I wanted to do it that way, he gave his blessing to do that before I went to write the script," Flanagan added. "And, if he hadn't given his blessing, I wouldn't have made the film."
In The Shining, viewers were introduced to Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a man hired on to be the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, a summer resort up in the mountains of Colorado. He, his young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) and wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall), all move into the massive hotel, which they soon discover is haunted. Viewers also learn that Danny has special abilities, which are referred to as "shining." Ultimately, the film ends with Jack's death after he attempts to kill his family when the spirits of the hotel take him over.
In Doctor Sleep, viewers find Danny (Ewan McGregor) years later. He's all grown up and still dealing with both his special abilities and the trauma of the Overlook, which go hand in hand. There is also a fiendish group of outsiders, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who feed on people who shine.
Making the film involved recreating several of the Overlook sets from The Shining, including the bathroom door which Nicholson cut through with an axe before saying the iconic line, "Here's Johnny!" This presented a special challenge for the actors, according to McGregor.
"It's odd in a way because you have to sort of ignore them," the actor told ET. "There are sort of filmmaker moments where we're remembering the original movie. But my character's not, unless he's remembering a moment of his past in there, which, of course, Danny had."
"But looking through the door, for instance, is an example where I have to sort of forget that this is an iconic moment from The Shining and, of course, it's an image of Jack Nicholson that we see on T-shirts and posters and all over the world, all my life, of him looking through that door," McGregor continued. "And now, I've got to now look through it as his son, as Danny, and try not to let it bother me."
Doctor Sleep is in theaters now.
See ET's full chat with Flanagan up above.