It's not often that more than a dozen household-name actors come together for one project -- even less often when that project is a television series. But when the network is TNT, and the work is based on the short stories of Stephen King, anything is possible.
Beginning Wednesday, July 12 and running Wednesdays for four weeks, each of the eight hour-long episodes of "Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King" boasts the look and feel of a feature film and offers the suspense, drama and chills that fans of the iconic horror author have come to expect.
Among those signing on for scares are William H. Macy ("Fargo"), Ron Livingston ("Office Space"), Claire Forlani ("Meet Joe Black") and Steven Weber ("Wings"), who shared their journeys through "Nightmares & Dreamscapes."
"When I read the script, there was no way I could not do it," explains Macy, who stars in "Umney's Last Case" on July 19. "I got to play two roles -- wait, I played three roles."
As it did for many of the series' stars, the fact that the master of horror was behind the material made the decision a no-brainer for the Emmy winner. "I feel that Stephen King is such a wonderful storyteller, that every once in a while we forget the fact that he can really write," Macy says.
Forlani was a little more hesitant to sign on, but no less drawn in by the project's pedigree.
"I was actually really worried when I got sent this script," she admits. "I said to my manager, 'You know I can't even read [horror scripts], let alone do them.'"
Once she read the story of "Crouch End" (airing July 12), however, the actress joined Macy in her assessment of the material. "It was one of those wonderful surprises where it is scary, but there's also a real kind of thriller element to it."
For Weber, his trip to rock 'n' roll heaven in the Aug. 2 episode "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band" wasn't so much a decision as a natural progression. A self-confessed "horror movie squid -- which is a cuter way of saying geek," Weber starred in the 1997 miniseries version of "The Shining" and the recent gore-fest "Desperation" and directed an episode of "The Outer Limits" based on a King story.
"I just love it all so much," he says. "I enjoy being part of the tapestry -- the tapestry of horror."
While this anthology isn't as hide-behind-a-pillow scary as "Carrie" or "Children of the Corn," don't forget that it is Stephen King. Forlani admits that some moments definitely had her a little spooked.
"There were a couple of locations in Melbourne [that were] really eerie kinds of places, and one of the worst for me was this tunnel in a park," she explains. "It was surrounded by trees and debris, and there was a train that went over it, but I didn't realize that. I was actually in the tunnel, and all the crew is outside, standing a mile away with a long lens. And I'm in this f***ing thing, and the train goes over. It was not a good moment."
Regardless of whether they got scared while filming, everyone involved in the project has a history with horror and can easily pinpoint a film or films that scared them enough in the past that it still spooks them today. Not surprisingly, most of them are King creations.
"I've got to say, 'Salem's Lot' scared me," Macy says. "It's right up there in my top three horror movies. When they're at the morgue and they realize they forgot to bring the crosses? Oh, my God! 'What do you mean you forgot the crosses? Are you crazy?'"
Livingston, star of "The End of the Whole Mess" on July 19, had to reach way back for his first memory of scary movies.
"I had a paper route when I was a kid, and I [delivered to] apartment buildings. I definitely remember after watching 'The Shining,' there was something about the long hallways with doors on either side -- I was always afraid I was going to come across Room 237."
"The whole series is more O. Henry than horror," Macy says. "They're all hugely ironic, and a little bit scary, but mostly bizarre and quirky and surprising."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times