Both the novel and the film adaptation of The Shining by Stephen King have been wildly successful, so it’s no surprise that since its sequel, Doctor Sleep, was published in 2013, there has been buzz about turning it into a film. Last night we learned from The Tracking Board which writer will take on the daunting task of bringing King’s novel to life on the big screen. His name is Akiva Goldsman, and he will adapt Doctor Sleep for Warner Brothers.
In Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, the story focuses on Danny Torrance. He was five years old in The Shining and the experiences he had with his mad father and the hotel with a demented life of its own left him scarred. King looks at what life might be like for a middle-aged Danny who never healed from the experience. Doctor Sleep is the name Stephen King gives Danny because of his function at a nursing home. He’s never completely lost his supernatural power and, with the help of a cat, he gives final comfort to the dying and is known as Doctor Sleep.
Stephen King gave a trait to Danny Torrance that Danny’s father also had in The Shining. It was one of the defining characteristics of Jack Torrance. He was an alcoholic. It’s one reason he took the job at the Overlook. He was trying to give up alcohol and make a new start and felt this was a good way to do it. NPR interviewed Stephen King shortly after the publication of Doctor Sleep and asked him why he passed the father’s alcoholism onto the son.
“I was interested in [alcoholism] for a lot of different reasons. There does seem to be a genetic predisposition to alcoholism — that’s the nature part. The nurture part is that if you grow up in a household where there’s a lot of drinking, you have a tendency to become a drinker yourself. I wanted to see if it was possible to escape those things.
“The other thing that sort of interested me was that Jack Torrance never tries Alcoholics Anonymous. That is never even mentioned in The Shining.He does what they call ‘white-knuckle sobriety’ — he’s doing it all by himself. I wondered what it would be like to see Danny first as an alcoholic and then see him in AA.”
Alcoholism runs through many Stephen King stories. NPR asked him about that and his own struggles with abusing alcohol and other substances.
“One of the traditions of AA is, we try to maintain complete anonymity at the level of press, radio and films — and, as you know, we’re on the radio right now…
“Knowing that I was a very heavy drinker at the time that I wrote The Shining and that I haven’t had a drink in about 25 years now, you could draw certain conclusions from that, but I wouldn’t cop to it. Let me just say this… I’ve done a lot of personal research in these subjects.”
Avika Goldsman is not new to the work of Stephen King. Most recently he was involved in Sony’s adaptation of The Dark Tower. He wrote a draft script for that King project in addition to serving as a producer. Akiva also has experience with bringing other books to the film screen. Besides the work on Stephen King novels he has brought to life such stories as A Beautiful Mind, The DaVinci Code, and The Divergent Series: Insurgent.
Working on the sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining comes with some high expectations as the original movie was directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick and is widely considered a classic horror film. But Stephen himself is acting as executive producer on Doctor Sleep, and you can’t ask for better guidance than that.
[Photo by Francois Mori/Associated Press]