Firestarter, Stephen King‘s tale of a girl with pyrokinetic abilities, is headed to the screen again – this time from Blumhouse. And the film has just cast one of its villains – John Rainbird, a hitman who works for the secret government agency known as The Shop. Michael Greyeyes, who has appeared Blood Quantum, Woman Walks Ahead, and the fantastic Sundance 2021 film Wild Indian, will play the character.
I’ll confess that Michael Greyeyes was not on my radar until I caught Wild Indian at Sundance this year. But having seen that, I immediately want to see him in as many films as possible. He delivers a harrowing, raw, angry, and tortorued performance in that film that completely blew me away. So I’m thrilled to see him landing more gigs, and I have no doubt he’s going to bring the perfect amount of menace to the role of Rainbird, one of the villains of Firestarter.
The character is Native American in the book, but when Firestarter was first turned into a film in 1984, they nixed his Native American background and cast George C. Scott in the role (although they curiously kept the name John Rainbird). The press release regarding Greyeyes’ casting adds that Rainbird is “a relentless powerful man who has been pushed into a violent life.”
Published in 1980, Firestarter was Stephen King’s sixth novel. The story follows “A young girl develops pyrokinetic abilities and is abducted by a secret government agency that wants to harness her powerful gift as a weapon.” The government agency, The Shop, also appears in King’s debut novel, Carrie. The 1984 film featured Drew Barrymore as the pyrokinetic girl, Charlie McGee. In the novel, Rainbird becomes obsessed with Charlie and manipulates her into thinking he’s her friend, but his ultimate goal is to kill her.
The new take on Firestarter is being directed by Keith Thomas, who helmed the upcoming indie horror film The Vigil. Before Thomas landed the job, Fatih Akin had been announced as the director. Scott Teems (Halloween Kills, Rectify) is tackling the script. Teems will also executive produce, along with Jason Blum, Akiva Goldsman, and Martha De Laurentiis, who served as an associate producer on the 1984 version.
I’m a huge Stephen King fan, and I’m glad the seemingly never-ending wave of adaptations of his work keeps coming. That said, I’m a bit mixed on Firestarter as a story, but I’m still curious to see how this new adaptation shakes out. The 1984 film has aged terribly – it’s just not a good movie, folks. Here’s hoping this one will turn out better.