The new Firestarter adaptation from director Keith Thomas was released in theaters and on Peacock today, on the apt date of Friday 13. The film stars child actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong in the role of Charlie McGee, first portrayed by a young Drew Barrymore in 1984, and Zac Efron as her protective father on the run, Andy McGee.
And although the new adaptation isn’t exactly getting the best initial reception from critics, it has at least one fan in master of horror Stephen King, who penned the 1980 novel.
When speaking with Vanity Fair in an interview that dropped in tandem with the premiere on Friday, King was asked about the 1984 adaptation. The 74-year-old author had previously expressed mixed feelings but admits that he’s softened up over time. And though he says that he doesn’t “wanna say anything bad about anybody” and “mostly keeps his mouth shut” when it comes to criticism of adaptations of his books, he explained why he feels the new adaptation works better than the original.
“If you compare David Keith as Andy McGee [in the 1984 film] and Zac Efron [in the new Firestarter], I think Efron wins the battle because he seems a lot more intelligent and he does a lot less lying to the kid, too. In the original Firestarter movie there’s a lot of, ‘Oh, Charlie, everything’s going to be all right.’ There’s nothing that raises my hackle so much as lying to a child. This character, this iteration of Andy McGee, doesn’t do that. I think Zac Efron did a wonderful job. It’s a very grown-up part. And he pulled it off.”
This isn’t the first time King has praised the 2022 Firestarter, to the delight of Efron, who considers the author to be a personal hero. “That’s great — that means the world to me. I hadn’t heard that yet,” Efron previously said when learning that King was a fan. “He did like the film? That’s great. Alright. My day’s made!”