"I am Roland, son of Steven, son of Henry, true descendant of Arthur. And I have not forgotten."
Not my words, but the words of Idris Elba, who sent shivers of excitement down the spines of The Dark Tower fans recently by Tweeting the above reference to Stephen King's acclaimed fantastical series.
Elba is set to roam the dehydrated landscapes of the Mid-World as the gunslinging protagonist, Roland Deschain, in the live-action adaptation. It's a project that has languished in development hell for a number of years, but now has a fresh lease of life and a confirmed release date.
A number of actors have been linked with the lead role — including Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen — but I believe Elba is the perfect choice. Why? Well, read on, dear reader.
Avid fans of the books will feel they understand what makes Roland tick, aside from the obvious quest to, you know, save the world. But for those less acquainted, let's dip our toes into world of make believe, and understand why Elba is well suited to the role.
Meet The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain
Roland Deschain is at the core of King's imagined world. While the expansive realm is drenched in delightful idiosyncrasies, Roland is the driving force of the narrative. The son of Steven and Gabrielle Deschain has a solid blood line; as well as being the latest in a long line of gun-slinging humanitarians, he is also the 30th descendant of King Arthur, also known as Arthur Eld in this universe.
He's a man with a immense pistol wielding talent, who became a gunslinger at the tender age of 14. His unparalleled skills help him during his unrelenting quest to discover the Dark Tower, which was ignited when he attained "Marelyn's Rainbow," a magical crystal ball.
This is a man driven, obsessively, by his personal journey. Although on the outside he can appear cut off and dismissive, he also feels strongly toward those close to him; in particular, he takes on a paternal, loving role toward Jake Chambers (played in the film by Tom Taylor).
One Elba Performance That Could Be Key
Although set within polar opposite backdrops on the realism scale, Deschain does share similarities with one of Elba's finest performances: John Luther. The British actor won accolades for his performance as the obsessive (familiar?) DCI, who was consumed by his own quest to solve crime.
Both characters are also tortured by past memories, with Deschain struggling with coming to terms with the death of his earlier Ka-tet (a group sharing the same Ka, a.k.a. destiny) and Luther troubled by his often unconventional methods of catching bad guys. Elba excels in roles requiring a highly pressurized combination of a tough exterior, humility and a strong set of principles.
He is also no stranger to fantasy, playing Heimdall in the MCU, and also starring in sci-fi Alien prequel, Prometheus (2012). Remnants of Heimdall, Stringer Bell, and a Luther-esque performance is exactly what is required to capture the essence of Deschain.
A Challenging Adaptation
The delicate balance of self assurance (needed to carry Roland on his quest to the mystical tower), contrasted with the aura of likeability required for viewers to buy in to his obsession, is a character set Elba will flourish portraying. Matthew McConaughey, too, will compliment him well, starring opposite him as Randall Flagg/Walter Padick, Roland's bitter enemy in the novels.
The movie will be a challenge for Nikolaj Arcel and his crew. Any adaptation of source material so closely regarded will be met with raised eyebrows and stout skepticisim, especially considering King has said the narrative could deviate from the books.
But with Elba and McConaughey on board, there is every chance this could become a movie that won't be forgotten.
The Dark Tower is released on February 17, 2017.