Stephen King Confirms ‘Dark Tower’ Stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey
Following many years filled with failed attempts and disappointed fans, the film adaption of Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower seems like it’s finally going to happen. After months of rumors, Idris Elba has been confirmed as the gunslinger protagonist, Roland Deschain, and Matthew McConaughey has been announced as his foe, the “man in black.”
— Idris Elba (@idriselba) March 1, 2016
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) March 1, 2016
Both King and Nikolaj Arcel, the movie’s director and co-writer known for co-writing the Swedish adaption of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, talked to Entertainment Weekly about their plans to adapt the eight-book story, which also has assorted comic books and short stories attached, and was written between the years 1982 and 2012.
Even though the gunslinger has always been illustrated as a blue-eyed white man, Arcel said casting Elba was a “no brainer” and King agrees. Arcel explained how he discussed Roland’s character with Elba and described how the two of them “absolutely had all the same ideas and thoughts” and that Elba “had a unique vision for who Roland would be.”
“He can be white or black, it makes no difference to me,” said King. “I think it opens all kind of exciting possibilities for the backstory.”
Fans may be a little baffled by this response, since one of the plot points is that Susannah, a black amputee Roland brings into his world, is not very happy about being pulled into another dimension by a white man.
Arcel addressed this saying, “Some fans are asking, understandably, ‘What about the racial tension?'” But he promises, “as the story progresses that will be made clear, how we’ll deal with all those things.”
King emphasized how long the story has been with him.
“When you think about it,” said King, “I started these stories as a senior in college, sitting in a little sh-tty cabin beside the river in Main, and finally this thing is actually in pre-production now. I’m delighted, and I’m a little bit surprised.”
On this project Arcel will cowrite with Anders Thomas Jensen, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner. It will be produced by Goldman and his Weed Road company, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Erica Huggins from Imagine Entertainment. Pinkner will be executive producer.
The first film will not be adapting the plot of the first book. Arcel has declined to specify which books his movie focuses on only saying, “a lot of it takes place in our day, in the modern world.” King has admitted that this choice “may upset some of the fans a bit” but is sure “they’ll get behind it, because it is the story.”
The other members of the cast are still unclear, although Mad Max: Fury Road‘s actress Abbey Lee is reportedly in talks for the role of Tirana which, while being a nominal character in the books, is being called the “female lead” of the movie.
This series has failed adaption in the past first because it was incomplete, and then because of how hard it was to adapt the expansive story into one cohesive project. The books blend classic western themes with horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, even connecting with King’s other novels and featuring a cameo from Stephen King himself. Ron Howard had attempted an adaption in 2010, planning a multi-platform approach which was a combination between a three movie installment and a TV series prequel for the backstory. Akiva Goldsmith, the Oscar-winning writer for A Beautiful Mind, had even begun working on the script. Universal Pictures was set to launch the project. But then cold feet about the money needed to make this project happen halted the project.
Then, Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony’s motion picture group, decided to take up the project. King says that a successful first movie could revive Howard’s original plan, which is part of why the earlier part of the narrative, which depicts Roland’s younger days, is being saved.
For now though The Dark Tower only promises one movie, with the possibility for more.
Shooting for The Dark Tower will begin in seven weeks. The planned release date is Jan. 13 2017.