Idris Elba Up For ‘Dark Tower’ Role As Gunslinger Roland Deschain

Idris Elba may be up for a key role in the forthcoming film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, which is the first volume in King’s epic The Dark Tower series.

According to reports from Deadline and The Wrap, Elba would step into the role of gunslinger Roland Deschain opposite Matthew McConaughey as the nefarious Man in Black. Deadline reports that while there is no deal in place, Idris Elba has emerged from a crowded field as the front-runner for the lead Dark Tower role.

Last month, Inquisitr reported that McConaughey was offered his choice of the two main Dark Tower roles. McConaughey chose antagonist Walter O’Dim, also known as Marten Broadcloak, Randall Flagg, The Man in Black and a host of other names, which left the role of Roland Deschain open. Russel Crowe and Javier Bardem were also considered for the key Dark Tower role, according to Deadline, and Bardem was also connected with a previous iteration of the adaptation that stumbled early on.

The first film in a planned Dark Tower movie franchise is tentatively set for release on January 17, 2017, and it will essentially be an adaptation of the first book in a series that spanned seven main volumes and more than two decades. In The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain pursues the villainous Man in Black across a boundless desert, meeting up with a young protege along the way. With two of these three key roles already sewn up, Sony may actually make good on its January 2017 release date.

Although Deadline and The Wrap both cited sources close to the project, neither outlet was able to obtain an official statement regarding Idris Elba’s role in The Dark Tower.

Despite the lack of confirmation, the idea of Idris Elba as Roland Deschain has engendered both praise from fans of the actor and confusion from fans of the book series.

While it’s clear that Elba has the chops to tackle the role, and it would be a great move for the actor’s career, some fans are less than thrilled with the idea. And yes, just like the controversy that erupted when Idris Elba’s name was thrown around as a potential James Bond, it’s because of his skin tone rather than his acting skills.

Roland Deschain is essentially a Clint Eastwood type, for those not already familiar with the source material, and King himself wrote that Eastwood’s The Man With No Name influenced Roland’s look and mannerisms. Roland was also described in the text as having blue eyes, and another character likened him to both Marshal Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke and John F. Kennedy. And when Stephen King inserted a younger version of himself into the story, a character remarked on how much the author looked like Roland, saying that the gunslinger could be his father.

Idris Elba and Stephen King may not look a whole lot alike, but movie adaptations very rarely stick too closely to the source material. So, while race did have a role to play in the books, specifically in relation to the character Susannah, there’s no reason to believe that the movie version of The Dark Tower would deal with the same issues even if a white actor was cast instead of Elba.

Matthew McConaughey fled across the desert, and Idris Elba followed. It may not have the same ring to it as the original, but come next January, it may very well be a reality.

Are you excited at the prospect of seeing Idris Elba, in the role of Roland Deschain, face off against Matthew McConaughey’s Man in Black in The Dark Tower? If not, you can always try to find some solace in remembering that there are other worlds than these.

[Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images]