‘The Mist’: Frank Darabont, Thomas Jane on ‘angry, bleak’ ending

May 12, 2013 | 7:53 a.m.
hcff darabont2 The Mist: Frank Darabont, Thomas Jane on angry, bleak ending

"The Mist" writer-director Frank Darabont is seen at work on "The Walking Dead" in September 2010. He also made "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile," which, like "The Mist," are adapted from Stephen King stories. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

hcff darabont The Mist: Frank Darabont, Thomas Jane on angry, bleak ending

Frank Darabont speaks during PaleyFest in Beverly Hills in 2011. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Taking his chair after the intense, haunting ending and solemn credits of “The Mist,” its star, Thomas Jane, seemed newly rattled by it.

“I just slipped in and caught the last 10 minutes or so because I got here a little early,” the actor, a surprise guest at the Hero Complex Film Festival, told the crowd Saturday afternoon. “I kind of wish that I hadn’t. … That was really hard. That’s powerful, man.”

“You know this movie came out on Thanksgiving weekend?” he asked, to audience laughter.

“Nothing says the holidays like flesh-eating tentacles,” added the film’s writer-director, Frank Darabont.

The 2007 horror film follows a group of people trapped in a shopping market after a mist envelopes their town. As they learn of the presence of deadly, unearthly creatures outside, debate over what to do splinters the survivors, with camps organizing around Jane’s character, artist and father David Drayton, and Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), a doom-prophesying religious fanatic. The humans prove as fearsome as the beasts and face terrible, heartbreaking choices.

The film, based on a 1980 Stephen King novella, was the third film Darabont had adapted from the prolific bestselling horror author’s work, following “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994) and “The Green Mile” (1999). The movie’s finale, which the director called an “angry, bleak ending,” was markedly different from the novella’s.

He recalled sending the new ending to King and saying, “Listen, if you hate the ending, I won’t make the movie.” King’s reply, Darabont said, was that he loved it and thought that every generation there should be a movie that dares to not give audiences what they want.

“I was really getting something off my chest here,” Darabont said. “So if you hated the ending, I apologize for the two hours of your life I took. … This is an angry cry from the heart from a humanist who is really pretty pissed off about the fact that all the reasonable people seem to be marginalized, ground under the heel of the extremists.”

Jane, sporting longer, curlier hair than in the film and barefoot, said he had long been drawn to – and desired – stories like “The Mist”: “I was one of those kids who always used to walk out of the movie theater going, ‘Everybody should have died.’ ”

Three actors from “The Mist” – Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn and Melissa McBride — became series regulars on “The Walking Dead,” which Darabont developed for TV from the Robert Kirkman comics series. But there could have been a fourth – Jane. Darabont said he’d wanted him for the role of Rick Grimes, but the actor was already working on the HBO comedy “Hung.”

Jane appeared to regret missing out on that role – and that wasn’t the only one.

In responding to an audience member’s question about whether there was a right choice his character could have made at the end, Jane riffed on ways life can go differently based on a single decision and half-joked, “If only I’d not turned down the X-Men, then I’d be a movie star.”

Answering the same question, Darabont said, “Whatever your interpretation is, that’s the right one. That’s why I made the movie. What do you think? Guess what, that’s the right answer.”

But there was a but: a certain way of looking at “Blade Runner.” “Except for anyone who thinks that Rick Deckard is a replicant, they’re … wrong.”

Hosted by Hero Complex editor Gina McIntyre at the Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood, the matinee event started Day 2 of the Hero Complex Film Festival, now in its fourth year. The festival started Friday night with a John Carpenter double feature and discussion. Saturday night’s program brought a Guillermo del Toro double feature of “The Devil’s Backbone” and the Oscar-winning “Pan’s Labyrinth,” exclusive new footage of his “Pacific Rim” and an on-stage conversation with the busy director. Sunday afternoon features a screening of “Independence Day” and conversation with director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin; that’s followed in the evening by a 20th anniversary tribute to “The X-Files” with creator Chris Carter and showings of three fan-picked episodes.

Check back in the coming days for video of discussions with the festival’s special guests.

– Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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Comments


9 Responses to ‘The Mist’: Frank Darabont, Thomas Jane on ‘angry, bleak’ ending

  1. John W. says:

    I really enjoyed the movie and was okay with the murder-suicide ending, but it happened too fast. It seemed as soon as the truck ran out of gas, it was instantly decided and done; whereas, I would think, as long as there wasn't an imminent threat right outside the window, they would have talked some, reflected about their lives, and slowly come to embrace that they were all about to die of their own free will. Out of gas, a nod, then Bang! Bang! Bang Bang! Done. It would have worked had it not been rushed. Simple as that.

  2. Tony says:

    Clumsy, pointless ending for an ending's sake. Too Twilight zone.

  3. RedOnyx says:

    The ending to The Mist was so utterly powerful. I watched it with 2 other people and we all left the film feeling dazed and deeply effected. I felt truly gutted by the film and think it is fantastic!

  4. Greg says:

    the mist is by far one of my favorite adaptations, truly a brilliant take and by far the best way to a take a stephen king novel and throw it in the face of the happy ending bullshit

  5. Stef says:

    I was furious at first. After some thought, I realised this would be the ultimate horror. Good job.

  6. Zia Joubert says:

    Didn’t like the ending and the extra bits inserted like the girl that got stung in the neck and then choked to death. I should be the same as the book so people can appreciate the brilliance that is King.

  7. Anastacia Moore says:

    Like ALL of his novels/turned movies; I LOVED "The Mist"; and even though I actually a little shocked at the movie's ending . . . I thought it was a significant twist to the usual "hero walks away with the girl and they fall in love and live happily ever after" ending that a lot of the Hollywood films portray. It portrayed the horrible/realistic decisions that often times have to be made in traumatic circumstances. VERY IRONIC!

  8. Keith Richardson says:

    I have always respected Darabont’s work with regards to his adaptations of King’s stories… Until the end of The Mist. He seemed to realize the importance of sticking with King’s formula in the beginning. People who read Stephen King, do so with a loyalty RARELY seen for other authors. To take a classic that had been around for nearly 30 years and think (arrogantly) that he could “improve” the ending, displays an ignorance I hadn’t thought he was afflicted with. Then to condescendingly state that he was, “sorry for wasting two hours of our time” is so infuriating that I hope he never does another sceen adaptation for King. And as for SK’s approval? Has Mr. King forgotten that he refers to his supporting fanbase as “constant reader”? I read SK novels and pay my hard earned money to enjoy HIS material. If I wanted to read or see something submitted from the mind of Frank Darabont, I’d buy one of his novels. Oh, that’s right, he hasn’t written any. I thought the ending SUCKED. And as for wasting two hours of my time? I’ve wanted to see this story adapted to the screen since 1980. That’s a hell of a lot longer than two hours.

  9. John says:

    Anybody that didn't like that ending is a baby. Grow up. Literary or cinematic stories don't ALWAYS have to check all your 'feel good' boxes, sometimes a story should actually explore some other territory and out of the usual ruts 99% of the other stories in our modern culture tell. If it had fit the usual trope you wouldn't even remember the film. The Mist may not have followed the precise plot of Steven Kings story, but the best adaptations of his films (like The Shining) never did, and it's actually more true to the Lovecraft theme King was mimicking than his own story. And I think generally, King has done a lot to bring ideas and themes used if not invented by Lovecraft to the broader public, which is a good thing. Del Toro who was also apparently at the same event has also tried to do the same thing and it's been the 'Suits' insistence on a (completely inappropriate) happy ending, among other infantile Tropes of US culture, that have prevented his adaptation of The Mountains of Madness from being made, in spite of years of effort and a proven track record of success.

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