How Clancy Brown and Frank Darabont Created a New Breed of Stephen King Psycho
Clancy Brown played sadistic prison guard, Captain Byron Hadley, in The Shawshank Redemption. But he felt that the character was “such an asshole” that he didn’t want to base him on any real correctional officers who served as consultants on the set. This approach to the role, he says, gave him the freedom he needed to portray “the creature that Stephen King imagined—a horrible, horrible guy.”
But taking creative license did backfire at least once. And when it did, Brown says that director Frank Darabont responded by giving him “the best direction I ever got.”
“There was a big, giant shot where Captain Hadley was walking across the yard and I had decided that he was slowly going insane,” Brown says on a new episode of Post Mortem with Mick Garris. “He was getting Tourettes-y. So, I just started jerking and swearing as I was walking across the yard.” Darabont, who was surveying the scene from up on a crane, stopped shooting when he saw what Brown was doing.
“We shot it once and someone says, ‘Clancy, hang out there, Frank wants to talk to you…’ So, he comes down off the crane and everybody resets,” Brown recalls. “I’m walking back to him and he’s got his cigarette—his little Tiparillo thing. He puts his arm around me and says, ‘You know that thing you’re doing as you’re walking around?’ I was like, ‘Yeah! It’s pretty good, see, I’m trying to be like he’s starting to lose it, he’s Tourettes-y.’ And he goes, ‘No, no, no, that’s great, that’s great… just don’t do it anymore because you look stupid. OK?’”
What Brown truly appreciated about this moment was how discreet Darabont was, even while being so blunt. “That is as direct as it gets! [But] he told me privately that I was looking like an idiot, rather than saying it over the bullhorn… or having someone else say it to me over the bullhorn,” he laughs. “I always got a kick out of that.”
Brown thanked Darabont immediately, dialed down the crazy, and ultimately embodied one of the most memorable villains seen in a King adaptation.