A recent article on the LA Times site, had Ron Howard giving his thoughts on the getting Stephen King’s The Dark Tower to the big screen. There’s a couple of very interesting points in this interview which are worth noting here.
Ron Howard and his team fully understand the story lines complexity and are currently “finding the shape of it” but what’s interesting is that they were actually working on this a full year before they even approached King.
“It was all about putting something together that was good enough and getting such an understanding of the material that Stephen King would say, ‘Yes, that’s the way into this story.'”
When I’d heard the movie rights had moved away from Abrams, it looked like Howard was coming into the game quite late, almost as a backup, but after reading this quote that seems not to be the case.
If Howard was working on this one year prior to contacting King, then what was the true situation with Abrams and Lindelof? This quote from King also adds some intrigue, “I’ve been waiting for the right team to bring the characters and stories in these books to film and TV viewers around the world.”
It’ll be interesting to see if the back story of this ever comes out.
Which actor will play the Gunslinger?
Howard is fully aware of what’s being talked about on the fansites and knows that his casting decisions will be scrutinized in minute detail, especially when it comes to who will be cast in the role of Roland Deschain.
Although he hasn’t exactly said who he would like to play Roland, some of his comments do give food for thought. He apparently nodded when names like Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman were put forward, but the most interesting comment was what he said with regards to Viggo Mortensen;
“Sure, those are some names and on ‘The Dark Tower’ fansites, they’re all about Viggo”.
It’s dangerous to read too much into so few words, but I’d say Howard has some idea of the fans expectations – perhaps Viggo is on the top of his list too. Could actors such as Mortensen, Craig and Jackman commit to such a long term project? Your guess is as good as mine, but I can’t see how Universal/NBC would justify such an investment without an A-list lead.
Not a strict Book to Film adaptation
Although Roland has reached the Dark Tower, the story of Mid-world continues to be developed.
Marvel has released a prequel comic series plotted by Robin Furth, scripted by Peter David and with Stephen King on board as creative and executive director. King has also told us that he’s writing a new Dark Tower book.
For certain, this will not be a page-for-page translation of the book to film (as happened with series like Harry Potter), which I feel will be to everyone’s benefit. Howard confirms this with these comments;
“There’s this entire world and all of these references and there are the books and the graphic novels and just talking to Stephen and it’s all this on-going conversation with the material.”
“In all of it, he [King] leaves a lot open to interpretation and so it gives a great deal of latitude.”
“We’re charging ourselves with the responsibility of getting a real understanding of the material and utilizing many of the best aspects of the books and graphic novels.”
The movie is set to be released on May, 17, 2013.
Top Quotes from the Source
The full article by Geoff Boucher contains a lot of background info on the DT and the adaptation story so far (available over at the LA Times website) so I’ll just pull out a few of the more interesting quotes here.
“We worked on it for a year before we even met with him. It was all about putting something together that was good enough and getting such an understanding of the material that Stephen King would say, ‘Yes, that’s the way into this story.” – Ron Howard.
“I really can’t stop thinking about it. We’ve been meeting and talking and I’ve been reading and researching and just kind of living with it. I’ve been constantly going through stuff and I’ve just been re-listening to it [on audio books] on my iPod and we’ve been sending e-mails back and forth, ‘What about this approach? What do you think of this idea?’ We’re finding the shape of it. We’re moving quickly now, as quickly as we can, and I feel challenged in the most exciting ways.” – Ron Howard.
“It’s one of the things that really fascinated me about the challenge. We love Roland the Gunslinger but we also like coming back to these worlds and these places. On one hand it is grounded and relatable but on the other hand it’s scary and strange and mind-blowing. There’s this dream quality to it and the mystery in that is what it’s all about – being compelled forward without all the answers.” – Ron Howard.
“Filmically, there are tones in this that I have never used before, tones of fantasy menace and elements of horror and real fear. And there’s the burden, on the characters, of this journey that is really palpable. That’s what we need to get on the screen. I think there’s something about [the Frank Darabont films] ‘Green Mile’ or a ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ the complexity and the ballast of them, those are two [of the Stephen King adaptations] where you do get the horror and suspense that’s there on the page. We’re charging ourselves with the responsibility of getting a real understanding of the material and utilizing many of the best aspects of the books and graphic novels.” – Ron Howard.
“There are new interpretations of the rules of the world and the story. It’s a really useful and compelling part of this already fascinating creative journey that we’re on.” – Ron Howard.
I’ll leave you with this final quote from Goldsman;
“We’re really early on, but he and I do know that he loves what he’s hearing and he’s excited about it,” Howard said. “He has just been so welcoming. ‘Welcome aboard’ is how I would describe the reception we got…. I think he has a genuine curiosity, even at this point in his amazing career, about the way his work can be taken to another medium and therefore a kind of openness and freedom about what those stories will look like. I hope it goes great. I hope it goes the way we think it will. It never does, really. But sometimes it goes better.” – Akiva Goldsman.