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Stephen King Helped Director John Lee Hancock Nail Down The Details For Netflix's Mr. Harrigan's Phone

The horror drama film "Mr. Harrigan's Phone," which was written and directed by John Lee Hancock, was released to Netflix just in time for Halloween this year, on October 5, 2022. The film follows a young boy named Craig (King adaptation alum Jaeden Martell, of "It" fame) who befriends an older recluse billionaire Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland) when they realize they share a love of books. When Mr. Harrigan dies, Craig is devastated at first — before learning that he can communicate with his late friend through an iPhone.

The film is based on a novella from horror legend Stephen King, from his 2020 collection "If It Bleeds." While King did not have any official role on set, such as producer (two other horror regulars, Jason Blum and Ryan Murphy, served that job), it turns out that he did lend a hand here and there to cement some of the details. Here's what director Hancock had to say about King's role as a consultant.

Hancock asked for King's advice on character details

In an interview with The Wrap, writer-director John Lee Hancock discussed what it was like adapting a work of Stephen King's, including what he went to King for advice for. Hancock admitted that he had never thought about adapting a King book until he got a call from Jason Blum asking him if he would be interested — thus, he found the task a bit daunting. Once he got the job, he wrote a letter to King to get his blessing, noting what he liked about the novella and what themes he was drawn to, and King responded encouragingly within 20 minutes. From there, they began emailing regularly, which turned out to be a great resource for Hancock during production.

"Part of it is just to keep the connection in case I really found myself in a bind like, '[You've] got to help me with something from the story that says this and that,'" Hancock explained. "And there were a few of those things. I would throw out a, 'Which do you think this character would do? This, or this?' Kind of things. And he would chime in, but he was always very respectful of, 'Whatever you think, But I kind of think maybe this, but whatever you think.'"

The director added that he would also send King pictures from the set to keep him updated on how things were going, even asking his opinion on things like set pieces that they were choosing between. "Then it was great showing him a cut of the movie and him really loving it," Hancock continued.