Jovan Adepo, known for his breakout turn in “Watchmen,” wasn’t familiar with “The Stand,” Stephen King’s dark fantasy novel about the survivors of an apocalyptic pandemic, before filming the TV adaptation that premiered as a mini-series in December on CBS All Access — and had no idea how close to home it would hit.
Filming in Vancouver wrapped up in March, shortly before some parts of North America went into lockdown because of Covid-19. “To look back now, and comparing some of the imagery that we have in ‘The Stand,’ if you see some of the stills of guys in hazmat suits and how it kind of mirrors some of the actual photos we’re seeing in the world now — it’s eerie,” he said.
Since returning to Los Angeles, Adepo said, the pandemic has forced him, like many others, to try and embrace different routines and hobbies. He shared the highlights of what he has read, watched and listened to this year. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
1. “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn I read through it once, and I’m actually passing through it again because there were some topics that I didn’t grasp as strongly as I wanted to. It gives an interesting take on our purpose as humans on this planet and how it relates to animals and other beings. It’s been an interesting eye-opener for me.
2. “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius I guess you would consider it a collection of anecdotes or sayings from Marcus Aurelius about leadership, courage, fear; about all things that we experience as people and the best way to handle obstacles that present themselves in your life.
3. Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G minor There’s a darkness to it. I was listening to this a lot when I was filming “The Stand.” A lot of classical pieces tell stories, and as you know, there’s no lyrics in these pieces. But if you’re careful and you’re quiet, you can really sense the story that the composer is telling. That’s just one particular song, of many songs, that I’ve always been attracted to because even though it is very dark, it still has a sweetness and a tenderness to it that I was really attracted to. In certain seasons, for whatever reasons, you come back to a song. When it resurfaced in my playlist, I was like, yeah, this is something that’s going to sit in a different way.
The things that creep me out the most are the movies where whatever is going on in the film could actually happen. If it’s super fantastical or whimsical, then you’re like, OK, this is obviously not real. But with anything that has to do with the plague, those stay with me when the credits are done. When I turned it off, I was like, I hope we’re not in this lockdown forever! But it’s all good. Movies are movies.
5. “Love Island”
I ended up knocking out four seasons in like a weekend. It was bad; there was a period where I wasn’t watching anything but “Love Island.” And I’m usually not even a fan of reality TV.
I’m referring to the remake with Bill Skarsgard, who I thought was brilliant as [Pennywise]. The kids were all super funny and they all played off each other well, and their comedic timing was just like A-1.
7. The “Evil Dead” series
The remake that came out in 2013 was also done really well. It’s just about imagery. It doesn’t always have to be super gory, but it’s how the images stick with you after the movie is done. I couldn’t stand them when I was younger, but then I was like, we’re in lockdown, whatever, I’m an adult, I’ll be fine. I won’t be scared. And then I rewatched it again, and I made it.
8. “Jazz” by Ken Burns
A colleague of mine that I worked with on “Jack Ryan,” Wendell Pierce — we share a really strong love and respect for jazz music, and I get that from my father as well. That was a series that he asked me to look into just for further education and further awareness about the music.
I think the documentary is probably most beneficial to people who just aren’t familiar with the genre and who are interested in the history. They highlight Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, all of the great artists and the inception of jazz into the American history of music.
9. “Lush Life,” by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
John Coltrane has his own version of that album, but this one is with the singer Johnny Hartman. There’s a few tracks on this album that I liked — there’s the titular song, which I think is worth the listen, but I have to warn you, it can be depressing if you listen to it in the wrong light. He’s almost talking about all of his unfulfilled dreams. He’s like, no matter what, I’m going to have this glass of whatever he’s drinking, and I’m going to live a lush life in one small dive.
10. “Texas Sun,” by Khruangbin and Leon Bridges
I got it right when I got home from Vancouver. My favorite song on the vinyl is called “Conversion.” It can play as a spiritual or religious song, but it can also play as just whatever it is. It’s a beautiful song. It’s just a funky album. “Conversion” is a slower tune and the other tracks on there are kind of upbeat and seaside.
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