He’s the man behind the original 1984 movie “Firestarter“, based on King’s novell with the same title.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Mark L. Lester: I was born in Cleveland, Ohio in a not so rich family. We lived in the projects, but I later moved to LA and got into film. I now own a distribution company and still direct.
SKSM: When did you make Firestarter? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Mark L. Lester: I made Firestarter in 1983 in North Carolina. It took us 10 weeks and cost us 10 million dollars.
SKSM: How come you picked Firestarter to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Mark L. Lester: I was actually approached by Dino De Laurentiis to direct it. I didn’t pick it.
SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick – at least – one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?
Mark L. Lester: I do not have and projects lined up with King, but would do The Talisman which my son loved. It is however, I hear, already being adapted.
SKSM: How was it to work with the young Drew Barrymore: did you think then that she would become a great actress?
Mark L. Lester: She was great for an 8 year old. Wonderful to work with in every way. I knew she was destined for a long and eventful career in film.
SKSM: Are there things cut out of the movie that you miss now?
Mark L. Lester: Almost everything we shot made it into the final cut.
SKSM: Any funny bloopers?
Mark L. Lester: Not really. The actors were all very serious and dedicated to getting it right.
SKSM: What was Stephen King’s reaction to the movie?
Mark L. Lester: King didn’t approve at all and there was a big dispute between him and me in Fangoria Magazine. He doesn’t like many of the films based on his books though. He didn’t like the burning eyes and felt it strayed from his vision.
SKSM: Did you have any experiance making that kind of movies at the time?
Mark L. Lester: No, I had never shot a horror film before Firestarter.
SKSM: Did the actors do the stunts themselves?
Mark L. Lester: No, we used stunt doubles for almost every stunt and used a midget in a wig and costume to double for Drew.
SKSM: How hard was it to find these actors?
Mark L. Lester: Everybody was on board and loved the novel, but since it was a Universal picture the actor’s had large salaries. George C. Scott received 1 million dollars for just 3 weeks of filming.
SKSM: What do you think about the sequel: Firestarter Rekindled?
Mark L. Lester: I thought it was a nice effort, but nothing like the original. I suppose that’s because they didn’t have a novel to base that one upon.
SKSM: What movies did you make after Firestarter that we can know you from also?
Mark L. Lester: You can refer to www.imdb.com for a complete list. Just look up Mark L. Lester.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Mark L. Lester: Tell them that I am extremely grateful for all their support. I think it’s great that they can get behind a film or person and support it/them so much. I’m forever in debt to you all. It would be nice if you could write letters to Universal asking them to do a reissue of the DVD with a commentary by me. I have asked Universal and need the fan support. Not to sound too conceded, but many fans would like an updated DVD version with special features.
Mark L. Lester