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How The Changeling Series Approached Adapting Victor LaValle's Novel

The first three episodes of the Apple TV+ series starring LaKeith Stanfield and Clark Backo are now streaming.

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Apollo (LaKeith Stanfield) holds a baby in The Changeling
Image: Apple TV+

Critical reception to Apple TV+’s The Changeling has been mixed so far, a surprising situation considering its source material, Victor LaValle’s 2017 novel, was met with near-universal acclaim. (io9 liked the show, for the record!) But director Jonathan van Tulleken doesn’t sound too concerned by any of the less-than-favorable reviews.

“The challenge was to take all of that first-person internal world that Victor had written about and channel that into something that is experiential visually. Victor created this fairytale version of a place and people who are very rarely represented in fairytales, and I think that’s incredible,” van Tulleken told the Hollywood Reporter in a new interview. In doing that, though, he explained that The Changeling’s approach didn’t take the most obvious and splashiest approach. Instead, its creators wanted “to think of our audience as sophisticated and thoughtful watchers who are in it for the long haul ... we hoped that by building the grounding of the characters, and by building this sort of beautiful world and building their relationship, that would then lay the groundwork for the rest of the story for the narrative. If you just jump into the genre, if you just jump into the horror, then you kind of cheat it,” he said.


The director was quick to note that he’s a big horror fan himself, but that he and the rest of team Changeling were well aware that there’s plenty of media out there for viewers who do want to “jump into the horror” rather than settle in for a slow burn. “We were looking at a lot of those great ’70s horrors where they do build, they do take their time—Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining—any number of those classics where there’s a drip of unsettling-ness. That feeling of something uncanny,” he said. “Obviously, it takes some patience, but it’s like a book. You know if you sit down and open it up, you’re going to be drawn in and live in this world.”

Patient viewers, take note: the first three episodes of The Changeling are on Apple TV+ now, with new installments arriving Fridays through October 13.


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