Lizzy Caplan Is a Sensational Annie Wilkes in "Castle Rock"

Photo: Just Jared

After the first season of "Castle Rock" proved successful in weaving a new interconnected universe from various Stephen King works, it was unclear how a new season would be able to match this level of continued adulation. Without the added boost of having names like Bill Skarsgård or Sissy Spacek in the series, as the cast of season two were largely reported to be new, the direction the show would take was left shrouded in mystery. The biggest announcement came when Lizzy Caplan was announced to be portraying Annie Wilkes, the antagonist from King's 1987 novel "Misery" who was popularised by Kathy Bates in the 1990 film adaptation. After the first episode of season two is screened in front of a packed room at Madison Square Garden, no one in the venue has any doubts that Caplan is equipped to portray the many nuances of this interpretation of the character.

"I love Annie, I think she's a sweet baby," jokes Caplan as she begins to address the audience. "The Misery version of Annie Wilkes, obviously the OG Annie Wilkes portrayed by the incomparable Kathy Bates, nobody can touch her, she's amazing. That Annie Wilkes, she's already very isolated. She lives in that house by herself. The first person that she really comes in close contact with over an extended period of time is Paul Sheldon. Our Annie is still out in the world. She has to interact with people. She has to work, she has to make money, and she has to take care of her daughter. That immediately gives her different layers. I think by the end of this season hopefully we will understand why Annie wanted to move to a house in the middle of nowhere by herself."

This season is set to explore Annie's side of the story, as the original novel was largely shown from the perspective of Paul Sheldon. This time, the narrative is focused on showing both Annie's perspective and her origins to how she came to be the character people are far more familiar with. Even the smallest character details in this version allow the audience to better connect with her. Executive producer Dustin Thomason shares about the use of Carly Simon music with Annie's scenes.

"One of the defining aspects of Annie in every form that we've seen her is that she's really a woman born out of her time. Annie's tastes are decidedly old-fashioned and I love Carly Simon. I also think that there's something about the way that she defined an age. It was that idea of Annie being stuck in an earlier age."

Watching Caplan inhabit this character is unsetting in the best way right from the start. The episode's first introduction of her is without dialogue for a minute or so. As a result, the audience is able to witness how meticulous the attention to detail is in getting the physicality of her performance just right, from her posture to her manner of walking. Caplan addresses this aspect when it's brought up during the Q&A.

"There's lots of descriptions in the book, fairly offensive descriptions about Annie's physical appearance and her size and what she looks like and she's a 'mountain of her woman' and all this. I'm not particularly tall. I'm not particularly physically opposing. The only kind of choice I had was to do something that looked unsettling and maybe a little bit off. I also felt like whatever the walk is, it just made me feel solid and grounded, feet on the ground. I don't know where it came from. I didn't know if it worked."

It worked. It really worked.

"Castle Rock" season two premieres on October 23 on Hulu.


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