Photo: Rachel Luna (Getty Images)

We don’t envy the producers of CBS All Access’ upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s beloved apocalyptic novel The Stand; not only is it one of King’s most fervently read books, but just thinking about the casting on this thing is one hell of a headache. To put it bluntly, King’s book has a veritable fuck-ton of characters, even after weaponized superflu Captain Trips is done slicing its way through 99 percent of the human population. Now the net of speculation for who might show up in the series is getting even wider, as Deadline reports that James Marsden is in talks to star as everyman hero Stu, the part played by Gary Sinise in the 1994 TV version of the book.

That’s actually pretty phenomenal casting, for reasons that will be slightly difficult to parse without seeming undiplomatic or mean on Marsden’s account. Let’s just say that, as written, Stu is mostly intended to be a decent, not especially exciting substrate for the events of the novel to happen to, rather than a real dynamic character—and then note that the guy who spent the 2000s playing the X-Men’s Cyclops, and the guy Lois Lane married because her top pick was off screwing around in space, might be distinctly well-suited for the part. Marsden finds himself in good company, at least; with nothing official, the guessed-at casting has also included Whoopi Goldberg as the heroic Mother Abigail, Amber Heard as doomed bride of Satan Nadine, and—bizarrely—56-year-old Greg Kinnear as retiree Glen, a part that Ray Walston played when he was pushing 80 way back in 1994.

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The real question, of course, is one that’s so far gone unspeculated upon, at least in official circles: Who’ll play the Walking Dude himself, King’s most charmingly recurring bad guy, devil-figure Randall Flagg. Jamey Sheridan played the character with Billy Ray Cyrus swagger in the TV miniseries, while Matthew McConaughey (unofficially) portrayed him in 2017's The Dark Tower. Given that Flagg is supposed to be an oozing font of otherworldly charisma—which even McConaughey, of all people, struggled with—it’s probably going to be a pretty tall order to cast him. (Something that’s presumably also facing the producers of Hulu’s Eyes Of The Dragon adaptation because, again, Flagg really gets around.)