For fans of Stephen King's The Dark Tower novel series, myself included, we've been waiting anxiously for our beloved books to become major motion picture films. Over the years there have been several rumors destroyed and hopes dashed, and with each failure there were little pieces of our souls that died along with them. Well, maybe that's an over-exaggeration, but you get the idea.
The story in the novels is so rich and vibrant that fans claim it to be King's best work. A bold statement considering that King is one of my generation's most prolific writers, and The Dark Tower is a tale that took him 30 years to pen (the first book in the series, The Gunslinger, was written in 1982 and the final book, The Wind Through The Keyhole, in 2012). The series stretches across reality and genres through eight books and several comics, and with each additional word we're introduced to new characters and plots through a beautifully crafted narrative.
After years of misdirection and forgotten attempts — with the likes of Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Russell Crowe and Javier Bardem all at one time attached to the project — we've finally made some progress in seeing The Gunslinger, a.k.a Roland Deschain, on the big screen. Principal photography has officially started and Sony announced last night at CinemaCon that the first film would cover the first part of the novel series and that filming was officially underway in South Africa.
The Story So Far
With the eight books in The Dark Tower series spanning a total of 4,000 pages, there is a lot of material to be covered. Director Nikolaj Arcel has stated that the film will start near the middle of the book series, which could upset a few fans, but is ultimately the direction that the studio and creative team want to take King's work. The author himself even confirmed this detail during an interview with EW:
"[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."
King also confirmed that the film will start with those nearly immortal words, "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." So although this first movie won't directly follow the timeline of the first novel, King himself has stated that the story remains true to the source material, including with its mix of reality and fantasy.
Meet The Cast
The Gunslinger — Idris Elba
The protagonist of The Dark Tower novels, The Gunslinger, a.k.a Roland Deschain, is a hero who carries the legacy of King Arthur in his blood and is on a quest to reach the Dark Tower and ultimately determine the fate of the universe.
Man In Black — Matthew McConaughey
The Man in Black serves as the antagonist for The Gunslinger throughout the series. He serves as the emissary of the Crimson King, who wants to topple the tower and bring an end to all of reality. He is a quasi-immortal magician who has twisted reality to suit his own desires.
Jake Chambers — Tom Taylor
Jake is a character that is "not from this world" and serves as Roland's protégé of sorts throughout a major portion of the story. Jake and Roland share somewhat of a father-son bond.
Tirana — Abbey Lee
Tirana is a minor antagonist that appears in Wolves of the Calla, the fifth book in the series, and is basically an underling of the Crimson King. In the novel her role is very small.
RUMOR: Eddie Dean — Aaron Paul
Appearing in the second novel The Drawing of the Three, Eddie Dean enters Roland's reality and joins him on his quest to defeat Randall Flagg and the Crimson King. Eddie is a recovering cocaine addict who learns the ways of the gunslinger and serves as a close partner to The Gunslinger.
Come February of 2017, we all hope to finally see King's masterpiece become a reality. And aside from the waiting game, hopefully we'll learn a little more about the story that's being rescripted by Nikolaj Arcel and Anders Thomas Jensen. As I stated above, we know that it will be a menagerie of sorts as it will be written and filmed to work in unison with a Dark Tower TV series that's in development (potentially on HBO, as was last rumored).