Carla Gugino on Gerald’s Game: ‘One of the Most Fulfilling Things I’ve Done’

The star of Netflix’s Stephen King adaptation on working with director Mike Flanagan.

An upcoming film that has to be high on the list of Stephen King and horror fans is Netflix’s Gerald’s Game, based on the King novel in which a woman is left handcuffed to a bed in an isolated cabin after her husband dies abruptly during sex play. As she struggles to find a way to escape, ghosts — from her past, from her imagination and possibly real — begin to prey on her and threaten both her life and her sanity.

The novel is one that has fallen into the “unfilmable” category because so much of it takes place inside the mind of the trapped Jessie Burlingame. But director Mike Flanagan — of Oculus, Hush and Ouija: Origin of Evil fame — has apparently wanted to adapt the book to the screen since he was 19, and now he’s done it. And to star in the crucial role of Jessie, he cast Carla Gugino, a favorite around these parts who has done a variety of striking roles in and out of genre films and TV, including Watchmen, Sin City, San Andreas and Wayward Pines.

“It was one of the hardest, most challenging shoots I’ve ever done, which is saying a lot,” said Gugino about the project when we spoke recently in Los Angeles for her new film, The Space Between Us. “I’ve definitely chosen some material that’s been really challenging. We shot six weeks in Alabama. I think Mike is absolutely the man for the job.

Read Gerald’s Game on Amazon

“It’s one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done,” she continued. “I love this woman…you’re dealing with something that has elements of horror, but also is really more of a thriller, in the vain of a Misery. And she is also dealing with this childhood sexual trauma with her father, and those are all tricky tones to find together.”

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Gugino said she was “really impressed” with the script (by Flanagan and his regular co-writer, Jeff Howard), explaining, “(Flanagan) has also reworked things to where her personality does split, but it’s in a different way than that is in the novel. I think it might end up being more clear for a film.”

The actress added that the movie was shot chronologically, which helped guide her through Jessie’s mental disintegration, and she also noted, “Every step of the way, one of the things (Flanagan) said to me, which directors very rarely say, was, ‘I want you to take ownership over this, this is as much yours as it is mine’…I’m really excited about it.”

Netflix has not yet set a premiere date for the film, which also stars Bruce Greenwood as Jessie’s husband Gerald, along with Carel Struycken and Henry Thomas. But the combination of Gugino, Flanagan and King is one we’re anxiously awaiting. In the meantime, Gugino’s new sci-fi romance The Space Between Us opens this Friday (February 3), and we’ll have more from her about that later this week.

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