Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ve heard that a new limited series adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Stand” is on its way. I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the show’s cast, Brad William Henke, who plays the central role of Tom Cullen.
Of course, this is far from the first time that I’ve heard Henke’s name, you see he’s starred in two of my favorite series, “Orange Is the New Black” in which he played a prison guard with a wrapped sense of justice, and “Justified”, as a redneck bad guy. Henke has been in over 95 films and series. I was eager to talk with him.
Horror Fuel: “I really enjoyed your work in both Justified and Orange Is the New Black. Boy, you play a rough character in that one. Piscatella was a real piece of work. Was it difficult filming scenes like the one with Red and to get in that frame of mind, because you don’t seem like that kind of guy?”
Brad William Henke: “That’s because I’m not playing me. It’s like when actors say, “I wouldn’t say that.” That’s good because you don’t say that, your character does. You know what I mean? I took the approach like Piscatella was trying to do a good job. He wanted to be the warden. He thought it was the right way to do things. I had to play it like he was just trying to, in his mind, do the right thing. It’s like now, you see people on this side or that side politically because they think what they are doing is right when it might not be.
Also, you have to admit, I didn’t do that much, it was my guards. They were the one’s strip-searching people and all that stuff. That was my guys.
Horror Fuel: “I get it, but you have to admit it, what Piscatella did to Red was just brutal.”
Brad William Henke: “Yeah, he took it too far. I think he would even agree that it was taking things too far. He got caught up in the moment. But he was trying to teach the women a lesson. Saying you don’t want to end up old like this in prison, straight up you need to get out of here.”
Horror Fuel: “He definitely got a point across.”
Brad William Henke: “You mentioned Justified, yeah, the writers and producers of the show, they were up and coming and great writers. I also did Sneaky Pete that Ben [Benjamin Cavell] was a producer on too. I’ve known those guys for a while and really appreciate trusting me with this role.”
Horror Fuel: “I keep hoping they will do a Justified revival.”
Brad William Henke: “You are? For like a one time movie or one more season?”
Horror Fuel: “I’ll take what I can get [laughter].
Brad William Henke: “Yeah, that would be cool.”
Horror Fuel: “Speaking of shows, The Stand is premiering soon. I’m excited about it. Can you tell us anything about your character?”
Brad William Henke: “My character, Tom Cullen is at the heart of the show. My character received a brain injury when he was younger so he doesn’t appear to be as with it as everyone else, but he ends up showing that he has a lot of heart and loyalty to those people that treat him well because he’s been treated so poorly his whole life so he gravitates toward those that are nice to him.”
In “The Stand,” Henke stars alongside Alexander Skarsgård, Whoopi Goldberg, Jovan Adepo, Owen Teague, and Greg Kinnear.
The tale finds people in a world decimated by a plague where they stuck in the middle of a battle between good and evil. The fate of mankind hangs in the balance and rests on the shoulders of Mother Abigail, who is 108 years old, along with a handful of survivors who must face off against Randall Flagg, humanity’s worst nightmare.
Horror Fuel: “In The Stand, there are two sides, the good and the bad. What side is Tom on?”
Brad William Henke: “I am on the good side. Seriously, Tom is like the sweetest. He is at the heart of this show. You’ll really like my character.”
Horror Fuel: “Like a giant teddy bear, huh?”
Brad William Henke: “Totally. You know this is Stephen King’s favorite book he has written and there are so many great actors in it. I thought I had the most amazing character and then I’d act with people and I would think, “Oh my god there character is great.” It’s going to be awesome. Everyone involved is so into it. I acted most with Henry Zaga and he was great to act with. We got along so well. On and off set he’s just a great guy.”
Horror Fuel: “How is the new series going to be different from the original series?”
Brad William Henke: “The original I think was made in the 90s, so they didn’t have the technology to make it look like its sort of the end of the world. When we were shooting it, it was like a huge movie. There were always two cameras going and a third one on a big crane. It was a big production, so it looks like a huge movie. I also think that the other one was on like a network back in the 90s, ours is going to be darker because it’s on CBS All Access. It’s more like a cable show. I think that’s the difference. It’s going to seem more real and seem like a really good movie.”
Horror Fuel: “Awesome! The trailer looks fantastic.”
Brad William Henke: “Yeah. I’ve seen the first four episodes and they are intense. I don’t come in until episode three but I was like, “Wow. This is good.”
Horror Fuel: “I noticed something in the trailer, there’s a shot, and only lasts for a minute at the 1:27 mark, but I saw the same iconic carpet that’s featured in The Shining. Will the series feature a lot of easter eggs like that?”
Brad William Henke: “Really? You know King wrote the last episode and his son [Joe Hill] is a writer on the show and he looks just like him, so there may be.
I was told, “Stephen King really likes what you’re doing with Tom.” I was like, “What?!”
Horror Fuel: “That’s a big compliment. I love Stephen King, I have since I was a kid.”
Brad William Henke: “Oh, yeah! His writing is amazing. It’s so diverse. They’ve made great Stephen King movies, horror movies, movies with so much heart, you know?”
Horror Fuel: “I’m a big fan.”
Brad William Henke: “He wrote Shawshank Redemption didn’t he?”
Horror Fuel: “He did. The movie’s title is The Shawshank Redemption by the book is titled Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. It’s brilliant.”
Brad William Henke: “That’s amazing. Look at that, you would never think he would write that. I think he writes like six hours a day.”
Horror Fuel: “He’s a legend. If approves what’s going on with the show then that’s all I need to hear.”
Brad William Henke: “Yeah! I think you’re really going to like it. I think it’s going to be fun to watch and I think with our country now kind of splitting into two, it’s perfect timing. You know, it’s never going to work that way. Everything is separate, with politics people are thinking, “It’s us, it’s them.” It’s crazy. It’s like thirty or forty years ago, you can play a song now and it’s still relevant to what’s happening right now.”
Horror Fuel: “That’s both scary and sad. If you could describe The Stand with just four words about why they should watch the show, what would they be?”
Brad William Henke: “I would describe it as exciting, mindblowing, and good and evil.”
Horror Fuel: “Good answers. When does The Stand premiere?”
Brad William Henke: “It comes out December 17th. Now, I’m not in the first three episodes, but the show starts on the 17th. The first four episodes are awesome! They look amazing!”
Horror Fuel: “I have no doubts that it will be fantastic, just judging by the trailer. I like that the trailer doesn’t give away too much.”
Brad William Henke: “Right. And there’s so much they don’t want to give away. They tell you, ‘Don’t say this, don’t say that.” I think there are a lot of people like you, big Stephen King fans that are super excited about this.”
Horror Fuel: “There are a ton of King fans out there from so many walks of life. There are so many reasons to be excited about it.”
Brad William Henke: “There are so many people out there that need to see it, they need a distraction. It’s been rough lately for so many people. Because so many people are quarantined right now, people are saying that it’s causing marriages, divorces. You find out who you’re supposed to be with at this time. You find out who you are and who your people are. Usually, people are going to work, now they’re trapped with this one person and they’re learning who they really are. Some people have fallen in love during this time. It’s like, how do you act when the shit goes down?”
Horror Fuel: “I know exactly what you mean. We all need something good to watch right now to help us escape all this drama and the pandemic.
I look forward to getting to know your character, Tom, and seeing how the story unfolds.”
Brad William Henke: “It’s going to be fun, and every character is great. Everyone on the show is amazing. The characters are very real. It’s going to be super fun to watch.”
Horror Fuel: “Will The Stand be coming out one episode at a time or all at once?”
Brad William Henke: “One episode a week.”
Horror Fuel: “Well, I guess I won’t binge-watching it then.”
Brad William Henke: “One time I watched a whole season of Handmaid’s Tale at once. I was in a funk. It was so intense. I think The Stand is like that, you’re going to want to watch episode by episode, week by week.”
Horror Fuel: “You’re probably right. The story is intense and there’s something to be said for the anticipation.”
Brad William Henke: “Right. But I can’t wait for it to be on either. If you watch something all at one time, you’re like ‘Great, now I have to wait a year for more.”
Be sure to follow Brad on Instagram for regular updates on his projects and looks at “The Stand.” Tune in on CBS All Access on December 17th for the premiere of “The Stand!”
I also highly recommend checking out the series “Orange Is the New Black” and “Justified.” They are both fantastic!