The mind of Stephen King lets ‘The Outsider’ enter HBO

Series’ cast includes two-time Emmy winner Mare Winningham

Ben Mendelsohn and Mare Winningham star in HBO’s series adaptation of the Stephen King story “The Outsider,” premiering Sunday.

It might seem impossible for someone to be in two places at the same time — including a murder scene — unless Stephen King is involved.

One of the horror icon’s novels fuels “The Outsider,” an HBO melodrama premiering Sunday, Jan. 12. Largely adapted by Richard Price (who co-wrote HBO’s acclaimed “The Night Of”), the series follows a police detective (played by “Bloodline’s” Ben Mendelsohn, the show’s producer as well) who grieves the loss of his son as he investigates another youngster’s vicious death. A teacher-coach (“Ozark” Emmy winner Jason Bateman, also an “Outsider” executive producer and the director of the first two episodes) is a solid suspect, but he has a strong alibi. Two-time Emmy recipient Mare Winningham, Tony winner Cynthia Erivo, Paddy Considine, Julianne Nicholson and Yul Vazquez also star.

Cast as the detective’s wife, Winningham has previous connections to King; she narrated audiobooks of his tales “The Gingerbread Girl” and “Lisey’s Story,” and she appeared in the King-inspired CBS series “Under the Dome.” She reflects, “When I was younger, I read some of his books, and ‘The Shining’ was kind of the horror ‘moment’ for my generation. I’m constantly amazed at the amount of work that he puts out, and that makes it to film and television.”

Ben Mendelsohn and Mare Winningham star in HBO’s series adaptation of the Stephen King story “The Outsider,” premiering Sunday.

However, Winningham stresses the “Outsider” participation of screenwriter Price: “I had seen ‘The Night Of’ and was just knocked out by it, so when I heard that he was the (main) writer here, that was very exciting to me.”

The chance to work with Bateman and Mendelsohn on “The Outsider” also was a big draw for Winningham. “I’m a huge admirer of both,” she says. “It was Jason who initially reached out, and he explained that it basically would be following the King book, but that there would be a big departure for the character Ben would be playing … and, playing his wife, that it would affect me as well. It was a decision made to add some drama to them as a couple.”

A veteran of such movies as “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “Georgia,” and a familiar television face from shows including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Affair,” Winningham will satisfy her musical yen while “The Outsider” unfolds. After recent New York cabaret performances, she’ll help bring the show “Girl From the North Country” – featuring Bob Dylan songs – from its 2018 Off-Broadway run to Broadway in February.

Still, Winningham rates “The Outsider” as a special credit for her. “It was my first experience with having women come in and direct,” Winningham notes, “and I really enjoyed that. And the whole thing was pretty much anchored by Ben, who’s my favorite scene partner. I just adore him.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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