Stephen King Reveals in His First TV Interview Whether He Sleeps With the Lights On (1982)

The look of this 1982 video magazine interview with Stephen King comes right out of a Laverne and Shirley episode, which makes it doubly charming. Broadcast at the time only in Bangor and Portland, this University of Maine production marks the first “up close and personal” TV interview with King, who represents one of the school’s “high achievers,” many of whom Henry Nevison interviewed for the local series. The interview takes place at King’s home in Bangor. Nevison describes the circumstances on his website:

At the time, King had just finished writing his novel “Christine” and one year earlier had starred in Creepshow, a campy horror/sci-fi movie based on several of his shorter stories. Initially, I conducted a radio interview and we discovered that we had a lot of similar interests, most importantly the same warped sense of humor. He then agreed to an extended “sit-down” television interview, even though he had avoided that concept up to this point. I think he did it because he knew it would be good for the university.

In his video intro, Nevison points out that King had published most of the horror novels that made his career—including Carrie, The Dead Zone, The Shining, The Stand, and Firestarter—and had already sold movie rights for those books. Which means he was a veritable pop-lit superstar even at this early point in his career. Through a bushy beard the size of a small woodchuck, King genially opines on whether leaving the light on at night keeps the monsters away (“bottom line,” it does) and how he keeps the scares fresh after so many stories and novels. We see him hunt and peck on an ancient, hulking word processor (perhaps composing “Word Processor of the Gods”) and look generally creepy but good-natured.

King and Nevison spend most of the nearly half-hour interview discussing the differences between books and film (they’re “diametrically opposed”). It’s a subject King has returned to several times over the years, often in complaint, venting for example over Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 take on The Shining. King glosses over his hatred of Kubrick’s film here, saying the book will outlive the movie (not likely, in this case). He also talks Hitchcock, and we see clips from a fairly decent student film production of his story “The Boogyman.” Much of the credit for this engaging interview should go to Nevison, who does what a good interviewer should: keeps the conversation going in new directions without getting in the way of it. It’s vintage King and sets the tone for the hundreds of televised interviews to come.

via Network Awesome

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Stanley Kubrick’s Annotated Copy of Stephen King’s The Shining

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.


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