Castle Rock continues to reunite Stephen King fans with their most beloved characters as Lizzie Caplan is brought in to portray Misery’s infamous Annie Wilkes! Joined by actress Elsie Fisher, portraying daughter Joy Wilkes, the two pair up to show us another side of Annie in a town that has unleashed its terror… yet again. Fan Fest News was given the opportunity to participate in a roundtable interview with the talented actresses as they discussed their roles in the iconic King Universe.
Media: What was the first-ever horror film you saw in your life?
Lizzie: First horror film I’d ever seen? What was yours (Elsie)? I’m thinking.
Elsie: I don’t remember my first horror film but the first film that scared me, like ruined me was Gravity. That movie messed me up. I don’t think it’s technically horror.
Lizzie: I feel like it was maybe the Omen. Which really doesn’t hold up.
Elsie: That’s really, that is a scary movie.
Lizzie: As a little kid it was so scary. I tried to watch it recently. I mean when they do hold up I get really excited. Like Rosemary’s Baby totally holds up. The Omen not for me, sorry.
Elsie: Sorry Omen fans.
Media: So I wanted to ask you about your character but now I have to ask what happened to your finger? (Lizzie has a bandaged finger)
Lizzie: Oh this? I need to come up with something, a better story about it.
Elsie: Paul Sheldon bit it off.
Lizzie: Paul Sheldon himself. It was my dog. My dog’s leash, not my dog. My dog didn’t bite me but you know. He ran and the thing is retractable and then…
Media: So Lizzie, on the show your character’s really interesting because, in addition to struggling with mental illness, she’s also pretty violent. I’m thinking specifically of the scene with the ice cream scoop which really messed me up.
Lizzie Caplan: Good.
Media: So what was it like kind of getting into the mindset of Annie Wilkes? Did you do any research? Did you watch the Kathy Bates movie? Did you read the book? What was it like getting into that kind of mindset, of someone who’s kind of fucked-up but it trying to not be so fucked-up?
Lizzie: Yes. I’d seen the movie before and read the book before this came around so I’d just re-educated myself with all that. But that’s who Annie one day becomes. And Misery is seen through the eyes of Paul Sheldon, so it’s 100% his point of view, especially the book. You really see her as just a straight-up kind of villainous woman. Our story gives more dimension to Annie. So, even though I know and I’m kind of familiar with where she’s going…. everything we came up with, where she came from and how she kind of developed into that, was all brand new. So it was kind of taking it as its own thing, as its own original content. And yeah, I found it really easy to slip into that level of insanity and then I didn’t really take it home with me, so I don’t know. I found it really rewarding.
“There’s something nice about not trying to look pretty or be sexy and just be fucking bonkers. It was really liberating.” – Lizzie Caplan.
Media: Have you ever taken a role home with you?
Lizzie: Yeah I think that’s probably the closest thing to a process that I have. I try to think as that person all the time, it just kind of seeps in. And with the music I’m listening to all and all of that. But with this, it was a different can of worms.
Media: Can you give us an example?
Lizzie: I remember that when I first started doing Masters of Sex I only listened to music from that era, I changed my posture, I thought about what she was thinking about all the time. It became very real for me, but also that point I lived alone, I was single. I could give everything to that. It’s more difficult to do that when your career is the job portion of your life and not the life portion of your life. I prefer it this way, let’s say.
Media: It is scary to take home this character, right.
Lizzie: Scary for some people, like my husband probably.
Media (Linda): Could you talk about the mother-daughter relationship you have on the show?
Elsie: I mean Joy and Annie, deep down, do have a very sweet, loving relationship. Because despite whatever Annie deals with she is a good person who has noble intentions. It’s just the way she goes about accomplishing those intentions is often not great. I mean Joy is trying to be her own person, she’s a teen. Also, Castle Rock, like the town, just messes with people, which is not great for their situation already. And there are a lot of factors but you know, and there are ups and downs.
Lizzie: Like any mother-daughter relationship.
Elsie: Yeah. I mean Annie Wilkes is a very particular person, but I think if you put a lot of mothers and daughters in the same circumstances that they have, it would also be just as terrible.
Lizzie: I think that’s true. I think we all have a little Annie Wilkes in us.
Elsie: Think I have a lot of Annie Wilkes.
Media: How much feedback were you able to give to the show to portray your characters? Were there things that you could kind of add to your characters as you were filming it?
Lizzie: Dusty, who I think was just here, he is super collaborative. Really, really open to hearing anything and the majority of the directors as well. They’re just open to letting us try stuff out. So yeah we did have a lot of say. But also it was very much like his vision and it’s kind of nice to just be there helping execute his vision.
Elsie: Yes, be a gear in the machine.
Media: Did you have to audition for the role?
Lizzie: I didn’t audition. The first time I kind of did what I was planning on doing with the character was at the first table read, but really on set so, that was scary.
Elsie: I also was very fortunate and was offered the role pretty much hot off the Eighth Grade train. But it was terrifying for me because I hadn’t worked in over a year and a half. It was terrifying. But it was a smooth transition and it was a wonderful role to portray. And I got to meet this cool mother sucker.
Media: Who is a favorite monster for you? Literature, movies or politicians? You choose.
Elsie: My favorite monster is… I don’t know. The horror I’m drawn to most is the ones about people and dealing with all the emotional trauma of stuff, just like life. And then psychological and supernatural things happen because of that. I was super into Us. I thought the Tethered were like… I want like a million sequels to Us.
Lizzie: Yeah Us is amazing.
Elsie: I want an extended series.
Media: So who’s your monster?
Lizzie: Oh God, I don’t know, I mean…
Elsie: The real monster is within us the whole time.
Lizzie: I was a big Medusa fan growing up. I like the Babadook.
Elsie: I like his hat.
Lizzie: I love his whole outfit. You know he’s a gay icon? That’s the greatest thing in the world. I love that so much.
Media: Well that kind of ties in with Stephen King he’s now being shipped with Pennywise as well.
Elsie: Oh, we should get Bill Skarsgard on this, right?
Lizzie: King of all of this, Bill Skarsgard.
Media: For your character (to Elsie) can you speak to what it’s like to be a teen growing up in a town with all of this chaos happening? I mean does it completely desensitize you or is it like horrifying at all times?
Elsie: I mean both.
“I think the real scary thing about Castle Rock is you just don’t see it.” – Elsie Fisher
That’s why people have this kind of cyclical… or just a cycle of awful things happen and then life goes on is because you don’t see it. So I think for part of Joy, part of her whole relationship with her mother, is realizing that her life is not completely right. But, I think part of it is desensitizing. There’s so much that’s going on and for a teenager who’s young, it’s hard to just explain your feelings. And I’m saying that as Joy and me, you know I’m only 12.
Lizzie: She’s only 12 years old.
Elsie: I think there’s so much going on and she’s just going through feeling and not feeling, dealing and not dealing and so.
Media: Was Kathy Bates an inspiration in any way?
Lizzie: Yeah, of course, I mean it would be kind of silly not to…
Media: Did you talk to her?
Lizzie: No, I’ve never spoken to her, I have never met her I hope to, one day. I will bow down.
Media: Kathy Bates playing that role was so iconic and colorful, and the sayings in the trailer and that she says in the movie it’s kind of like linking the two. Do you think that added pressure to kind of fulfill that role?
Lizzie: Absolutely. She was amazing in Misery. I mean it’s like an objective fact that she’s incredible in that movie. That performance is so next level. A well deserved Oscar. I mean she got an Oscar for her first movie job. So yeah, a little added pressure, for sure.
Moderator: You guys I’m going to have to wrap them.
Lizzie: Thank you guys.
A huge thank you to Ms. Caplan and Ms. Fisher for taking the time to chat. Catch them both in Castle Rock premiering Wednesday, Oct. 23, only on Hulu.