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Alexander Skarsgard Joins Stephen King Series The Stand

The golden age of Stephen King adaptations is set to continue when CBS brings its 10-part take on The Stand to CBS All Access next year. It appears the producers behind the series based King's harrowing study of good and evil at the end of days have finally found its Man in Black — a.k.a. Randall Flagg — a sinister sorcerer and servant of darkness.  

Per a recent exclusive from our friends at Collider, one of the baddest of the bad among King's epic list of evildoers will be brought to the screen by none other than Big Little Lies baddie Alexander Skarsgård. 

The report came in just hours after King himself made an appearance on ABC's The View to promote the current box-office champ — and most recent adaptation of his work – It: Chapter Two. King also used his appearance to announce additional casting news for The Stand: Owen Teague will play Harold Lauder, Jovan Adepo will be playing Larry Underwood, Daniel Sunjata is set to portray Cobb, and Brad William Henke will appear as Tom Cullen. That crew is set to join already announced cast members James Marsden, Amber Heard, Odessa Young, Whoopie Goldberg, and Marilyn Manson in the miniseries' apocalyptic landscape. 

While those casting announcements were all welcome news, fans of The Stand were quick to note at the time that King hadn't let slip who'd be bringing Flagg's charmingly evil energy to the series. We now know that Skarsgård has indeed landed the coveted role, and is prepping to bring the mercilessly menacing character to life on screen. 

Of course, Skarsgård isn't the first actor to play the part of King's infamous Man in Black. Jamey Sheridan brought a heavy dose of charismatically malevolent energy to the role in ABC's not-as-bad-as-you-might-remember 1994 adaptation of The Stand, and Matthew McConaughey recently took a wildly over-the-top stab at the character opposite Idris Elba's gunslinger in the recent misfire that was The Dark Tower

For those keeping track, Flagg has also taken shape in several other King works over the years — having now appeared in no fewer than nine of the author's tales dating all the way back to King's 1969 poem "The Dark Man." Though Sheridan and McConaughey did their best to imbue the character with just the right mix of charm and unabashed evil, Skarsgård — who's spent the last year racking up awards for bringing the same unnerving mix to his role as (now-deceased) rapist Perry Wright on Big Little Lies is the sort of actor who's almost certain to bring a level of pathos to the Man in Black that might've been lacking in those other performances. Either way, we can't wait to see the actor deliver his brand of bad to the lawless, morally bankrupt streets of The Stand's Las Vegas.

For those unfamiliar with King's epic novel, The Stand follows the tale of disparate bands of survivors making their way through an apocalyptic landscape before, during, and after a mystery virus dispatches with 99 percent of Earth's population. Sometime in the aftermath, a peaceful colony (led by Goldberg's Mother Abigail) is established in Colorado, while the demonic Flagg takes just the opposite approach in Vegas. While good and evil duke it out for the all-but-abandoned ruins of Earth, an omnipotent force may ultimately have alternate plans for both. 

That protracted synopsis is about as much of the plot of The Stand as we'll share here. You'll just have to trust us when we say that there's a lot more going on in the story than we've let on — and that even with 10 hour-long episodes at their disposal, series writer Josh Boone (the man behind the seemingly doomed New Mutants) and his creative team still have their work cut out for them in bringing the full breadth of King's vision to fruition. Luckily, they're getting a little help from King himself, who has reportedly scripted the final episode of The Stand, which will also feature a "coda" of sorts that was absent from the original 1978 text. 

Try not to freak out too much at the thought of King adding to his already epic story, 'cause we've still got a bit of a wait until we get to see what the series has in store. While an official release date has yet to be announced, The Stand is scheduled to premiere on CBS All Access sometime in 2020. (As the series is still in casting phase, we're betting it'll be late 2020 at that.)