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Stephen King: Near-death experience inspired 'Lisey's Story'

Stephen King wrote the Apple TV+ adaptation of his book Lisey's Story. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Stephen King wrote the Apple TV+ adaptation of his book "Lisey's Story." File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, June 3 (UPI) -- Stephen King said his 2003 bout with pneumonia inspired Lisey's Story. The 2006 book, which has been adapted to a series for Apple TV, follows what he imagines his wife Tabitha King's life would be like had he died.

"When it was clear I was going to get better, my wife decided that she was going to totally clean out my office, change it around and make everything new again for me," King said in a Television Critics Association Zoom session.

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"I was still feeling very rocky and I was on a lot of different medications, and I thought, 'This is what this room would look like after I die,'" he said.

Clive Owen plays author Scott Landon, who died before the story begins, in flashback scenes. Julianne Moore plays his widow, Lisey.

The series follows Lisey as Professor Dashiel (Ron Cephas Jones) pressures her to release Scott's unpublished work, and hires a dangerous fan, Jim Dooley (Dane DeHaan) to make Lisey turn over the manuscripts.

King, 73, wrote the screenplays for all eight episodes of the series. The author previously wrote screenplays of his miniseries adaptations of The Stand in 1994, The Shining in 1997 and Desperation. He also wrote screenplays for the films Maximum Overdrive, 1989's Pet Sematary, Sleepwalkers, Creepshow and more.

"Lisey's Story means a lot to me because it's the one that I love best," King said. "It's a story about love and marriage and the creative impulse, and it's also got a kick-ass villain in it."

King's works have been best-sellers since Carrie was published in 1974. Many of his novels have become hit movies. Some, like Carrie and Pet Sematary, were made multiple times.

Authors have been the protagonists in many King stories, like Misery, The Dark Half and The Body, which inspired the movie Stand By Me. Owen said he did not feel he was playing King himself.

"Obviously, I could see it was deeply personal and it was sort of drawn from himself and his relationship," Owen said. "The thing that I was blown away by was the amount of levels that the piece works on."

The 56-year-old actor said Lisey's Story balances an intimate relationship story with the thriller of Dooley stalking Lisey. It also includes a supernatural element, as Scott still visits Lisey's sister, Amanda (Joan Allen), after his death.

"There's this complete other world," Owen said. " Although it is sort of a surreal place out there, it almost felt like it was an explosion of inner worlds. It's something very, very intimate and something really epic at the same time."

Moore said she focused on the human relationship between Scott and Lisey. Lisey also has conflict within her immediate family.

Lisey and her other sister, Darla (Jennifer Jason Leigh), are caring for Amanda, who is on suicide watch at a mental institution. The 60-year-old Moore said Lisey's real-world family issues would be audiences' way into the supernatural element.

"We're always trying to communicate the universality of human experience," Moore said. "What's so wonderful about it is to find what's universal in every story."

As much as King admits to his autobiographical inspirations, he said his wife Tabitha asks him to leave her out of it as much as possible. King promised he fictionalized Scott and Lisey's marriage.

"Julianne and Clive are Scott and Lisey," King said. "They're not Steve and Tabby."

Lisey's Story premieres Friday on Apple TV+.

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