The Dark Tower has been loitering around in “adaptation development hell” for many years now, and fans of Stephen King’s epic western fantasy will finally be relieved to hear the movie is on the verge of being green lit and should be coming to cinemas soon.
Much has been made about the casting of the main character, a mysterious gunslinger known as Roland Deschain, and casting rumours have been rife for many months. However, this week, it was announced that not only do they have their chosen man to play Deschain, they also have a release date too. Their man? Idris Elba. The date? January 13, 2017.
The Lawyer Herald broke the news of Idris Elba’s casting, and according to Den of Geek, Akiva Goldsman will be writing and producing the live-action adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling fantasy series. The Academy Award winner, who won Best Screenplay for A Beautiful Mind in 2001, expressed his enthusiasm over Idris Elba’s casting as the main protagonist, comments that echoed those of Stephen King himself.
“I think Idris Elba is the greatest possible idea for casting for Roland, and I’m unbelievably proud of it as a collaborator on this enterprise and because I think that he’s a great actor and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he is likely to play a part. I understand that people who are thoughtful about the storytelling and the racial politics of the storytelling might want to understand how that informs that storytelling, and I respect that and I hear that, and those things are not things we didn’t think about or don’t think about.”
Stephen King made his mutual feelings clear on his Twitter account back in December.
To me, the color of the gunslinger doesn't matter. What I care about is how fast he can draw…and that he takes care of the ka-tet.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) December 12, 2015
The racial politics in question stem from Roland Deschain being portrayed as a Caucasian Western man in both the books and the illustrated comics. The book contains some elements of racism, particularly between characters of different race. However, the writer-producer made the point that “specificity of casting informs the narrative” and that changing the characterization of the characters doesn’t necessarily “defile the source material.” Also, Goldsman has been quoted as saying “likely to play a part,” which means there may still be a level of negotiation to be held.
In the novels, Roland Deschain is an old world cowboy and gunslinger. The main protagonist is the last living descendant of a long line of gunslingers — protectors of their world. Deschain’s main goal is to locate and reach the Dark Tower, which is known as the nexus of universes. He needs to do this in order to protect his land from destruction. Stephen King first authored The Gunslinger in 1982, revised it in 2003, and followed up with seven more books, the last of which was published in 2012. The project has been trending on Twitter for months, including this mysterious image of what seems to be the eponymous tower.
— Dark Tower (@DarkTowerSeries) July 31, 2012
At a time when diversity is a big focus in film and TV, Idris Elba’s casting has been received with a mixed reception. However, with an A-list actor being cast in the role and his star very much on the rise after blistering turns in Luther and several major blockbusters, including Pacific Rim and Prometheus, it just shows how seriously Sony, Ron Howard, and Goldsman are taking this project. Idris Elba may be the first casting announcement, but don’t expect him to be the last, especially with Matthew McConaughey also rumoured to be appearing.
The Dark Tower will be co-written and directed by Nikolaj Arcel. It will be based on a screenplay from Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinker, and Anders Thomas Jensen. Arcel will also co-produce with Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and Stephen King himself.
The Dark Tower will be released on January 13, 2017.
[Image via the BBC]