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The Dark Tower Reference You Might Have Missed In The Shawshank Redemption

Filmmaker Frank Darabont has adapted three of Stephen King's stories over the years, but none have held more reverence than his beloved prison drama, "The Shawshank Redemption." Before Tom Hanks walked "The Green Mile," and Thomas Jane braved "The Mist," the director brought viewers the emotional story of Andy Dufresne's (Tim Robbins) time in prison, as told by Ellis Boyd Redding (Morgan Freeman). As a fan, Darabont went out of his way to show as much respect as he could to King's work — and to do so, he even braved tweaking one particular plot detail from the source material.

In Andy's efforts to adapt to prison life as best he can, one of Shawshank's smartest inmates makes a deal with the warden, which he eventually works to his advantage. Behind bars, Andy conjures the fake identity of Randall Stevens, an alias that our hero ultimately uses following his iconic jailbreak. In the book, though, the name Andy fabricates is Peter Stevens, so why the alteration from Darabont? 

Well, as it turns out, the change of the first name is an homage to one of Stephen King's most beloved and feared creations. He inhabits the far more supernatural space the author is known for and does a whole lot of walking within it.

Darabont showed his respect to iconic Stephen King villain Randall Flagg

The name Randall Peters actually refers to the legendary character Randall Flagg

Making his first appearance in King's 1978 epic end of the world story, "The Stand," Flagg was the book's main antagonist and a true force to be reckoned with — equal turns charismatic and deadly. Like many of King's characters, he has wandered in and out of various stories in the author's bibliography, appearing in at least nine of King's works, having most prominence as one of the chief antagonists of "The Dark Tower" series (which was adapted in 2017 and had Matthew McConaughey in the role). Given his importance in the Kingverse, Darabont saw it only fitting to pay his respects to Mr. Flagg, also known as "The Walkin' Dude," "Marten," or — perhaps most memorably — "The Man in Black." Described as a "tip of the hat" in the audio commentary for "The Shawshank Redemption" by Darabont (per Cinema Blend), the director explained that, "Where the name Randall comes from — I'm sure the lawyers won't like this one, either, but — that was from me doing a little homage, a little tip of the hat, to our friend, Stephen King. One of his all-time great villains is named Randall Flagg [...] So when I needed to replace Peter, I chose Randall, as a little salute to Steve."

While it's not as impactful as the character himself turning up at Shawshank (perish the thought), this detail is – for die-hard fans of the Kingverse — a nod that rang alarm bells on the first viewing. More casual fans, meanwhile, may not have noticed this interesting little Easter egg to the author and one of his most terrifying characters. After all, what's in a name? A lot, evidently.