So get this: Lawrence Kasdan — the writer-director behind The Big Chill, Grand Canyon, and The Accidental Tourist — always wanted to helm an action movie. You know, with special effects and helicopters. I love the hardware and action movies like that, and I haven’t gotten to do it.

Yes, the man who conceived Wyatt Earp as a three-hour, character-driven epic just wrapped up his adaptation of Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher. The movie (which Kasdan co-scripted with King-adapter par excellence William Goldman) marks the director’s first stab at fantasy filmmaking since helping write Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

I’d written movies like this and not gotten to direct them, you know? he says. This one has elements that are familiar to me from my other films — most notably, that it stars four character actors (Jason Lee, Thomas Jane, Damian Lewis and Timothy Olyphant) as angst-driven pals — but then that story runs head-on into this alien invasion. It also runs head-on into a crazed military officer (Morgan Freeman) who will go to insane lengths to stop the body-snatching spacemen.

We snatched an hour of Kasdan’s time as he put the finishing touches to watch Dreamcatcher online free, which opens March 28; here’s what the director had to say about monster moviemaking, Morgan Freeman’s gravitas, William Goldman’s ruthless clarity, Stephen King’s retirement, and Hollywood’s mysterious lessons.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Actors: Damian Lewis, Jason Lee, Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Year: 2003
Runtime: 134 minutes
Rating: 5.5/10 (78,831 votes)
Rated: R