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Christian Slater's Spiderwick Chronicles performance was inspired by The Shining

Christian Slater's Mulgarath performance has a Jack Torrance element

The poster of The Spiderwick Chronicles
Image credit: Roku Channel

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Actor Christian Slater will play the menacing, shapeshifting ogre Mulgarath on the Roku Channel’s television adaptation of The Spiderwick Chronicles. At a press event at WonderCon, we had the chance to speak with Slater and the authors of the Spiderwick Chronicles books, Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, about the adaptation. Slater’s performance is undeniably disturbing, fitting with the adaptation’s darker and more mature take on the story, and he cited one specific influence for his turn as Mulgarath.

Slater told Popverse about his role that “there was a little bit of The Shining in there.” Stephen King’s classic horror novel The Shining featured one of the scariest antagonists in horror fiction, Jack Torrance, who has been immortalized in popular culture by actor Nicholson’s iconic portrayal of the character in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 fim adaptation.

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Mulgarath having elements of Jack Torrance is fitting given the darker and more mature tone of the show. Tony DiTerlizzi, one of the authors of The Spiderwick Chronicles books, stressed that Slater’s Mulgarath will be more “psychological” as opposed to appearing as a hulking figure like in the 2008 Spiderwick Chronicles film. Because the ogre can now shapeshift, Slater had an opportunity to bring a human face to a malevolent, monstrous being. Though The Shining’s Jack Torrance is an ordinary human being, there is something undeniably inhuman about his behavior.

Lastly, Mulgarath and Jack Torrance now share an almost universal experience: fatherhood. As the show reveals, Slater’s villain is posing as a human who lives with his daughter – a brand new character named Calliope (Alyvia Alyn Lind). This new dimension to Mulgarath’s character places him within the same spirit of what made Jack Torrance so terrifying originally. Because the experience of fatherhood (or parenthood more generally) is one that so many people also share, or have their own relationship to, it makes his horrific actions all the more upsetting to see.

The Spiderwick Chronicles debuts for free on the The Roku Channel on April 19.


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