Whoopi Goldberg’s been eyeing the role of The Stand’s Mother Abagail for the past 26 years. As she explained to Vanity Fair, she wanted the part back in 1994, when Stephen King’s epic was first getting the miniseries treatment at ABC, though the role eventually went to Ruby Dee. Mother Abagail is the 108-year old prophet who, thanks to her line of communication with God, becomes the unifying force behind the Boulder Free Zone, a community of peaceful apocalypse survivors. “I’ve been fighting with not making her the Magic Negro because she’s complicated,” Goldberg said, a longtime fan of King’ work. She’s part of a sprawling cast of stars assembled to bring the author’s best-selling novel to life yet again—this time as a nine-episode miniseries for CBS All Access—which (with King’s blessing) looks to update the classic tale of good versus evil for a modern audience. During a virtual press junket ahead of The Stand’s premiere, The A.V. Club was given the opportunity to speak with Goldberg and her co-stars about the legacies of their iconic characters; Greg Kinnear, Jovan Adepo, Amber Heard, Nat Wolff, Odessa Young, Katherine McNamara, and James Marsden all weighed in on what it means to step into these well-known roles, and shared how they hope to highlight different shades to King’s work.
The Stand premieres on CBS All Access on December 17, and will air new episodes weekly ever Thursday.