After many years of troubled development, the film adaptation of Stephen King’s ambitious fantasy series “The Dark Tower” is finally and officially moving forward.
King and director Nikolaj Arcel participated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly this week to discuss the project at length. In the process they confirmed various details and offered up a few new ones.
First up, filming is slated to begin in seven weeks in South Africa with actors Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey finally and officially confirmed to take the lead roles.
The seven book series follows Roland the gunslinger (Elba), a man who wanders a post-apocalyptic wasteland in search of the the structure that stands at the nexus of time and space. At the same time, an evil sorcerer known as The Man in Black (McConaughey) is racing with him to reach that tower.
The film will begin as the first book does, with the line “The man in black fled across the desert and gunslinger followed” – a start that King was insistent the film include and which he calls his favorite line of prose that he’s written in any of his books.
However, the film won’t be a straightforward adaptation of the book series, King saying:
“[The movie] starts in media res, in the middle of the story instead of at the beginning, which may upset some of the fans a little bit, but they’ll get behind it, because it is the story.
Arcel adds that “a lot of it takes place in our day, in the modern world” which would seem to indicate the film will be drawing mostly on the second and third books: “The Drawing of the Three” and “The Wastelands” with the later being where much of the franchise’s world building takes place. Arcel also spoke about the hiring of Elba for the lead role:
“For me, it just clicked. He’s such a formidable man. I had to go to Idris and tell him my vision for the entire journey with Roland and the ka-tet. We discussed, who is this character? What’s he about? What’s his quest? What’s his psychology? We tried to figure out if we saw the same guy. And we absolutely had all the same ideas and thoughts. He had a unique vision for who Roland would be.”
Talk also touched upon earlier versions of the property, namely the Ron Howard-diected version which had Javier Bardem slated to star and which would have had a companion television series. That has been abandoned for now, but a tie-in TV series is still an option should the film work.
In fact King confirms they’re intentionally not including flashbacks to Roland’s younger days (ie. the fourth book “Wizard and Glass”) to leave material that a series could then exploit: “They’re still holding on to this idea that they can do a TV series, and they’ve got it pegged for that.”
The film remains on track for a January 13th 2017 release. The full interview can be found at EW