Over the last few months there’s been various unofficial announcements for who will take on the roles of the Gunslinger and the Man in Black in the Dark Tower movies. It’s been interesting to follow the media, especially the controversy around the choice for that lead role, but finally we’ve received an official announcement. On March 1, 2016, Stephen King himself tweeted:
It’s official: The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed. #DarkTowerMovie @McConaughey @IdrisElba
So there you have it, our two main protagonist are cast: Idris Elba will take on the role of Roland Deschain, and Matthew McConaughey will be his nemesis, the Man in Black.
Controversy: A Black Gunslinger
Since Idris (The Wire, Luther, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) was first put forward for the role of Gunslinger back in December, there’s been a great deal of discussion on the fact that Roland has never once been imagined, either in print or in the readers minds, as being Black. In creating his Gunslingers, Stephen King was influenced by Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, and the Arthurian legends, so this is certainly taking things in another direction.
I’ll confess I was a little confused by this decision when I first heard about it, but then I figured, “hey, this is Hollywood, they do weird things”. Once you get used to the idea you realize it has no great impact on the storyline.
It will certainly be interesting to see how they handle castings for other characters from the line of Arthur Eld – I hope it doesn’t become too wishy-washy.
The Man in Black fled across the desert…
…and his name was Matthew McConaughey.
McConaughey’s involvement has been all but official since last November. Although he was originally in the running for both this and the Gunslinger role, he was quoted as saying that he’d be more interested in playing the villain, and so it comes as no surprise that he will be taking on the role of Randall Flagg (the most common alias for Walter Padick, aka, the Man in Black).
Other Casting News
Rumors have been running amok these last few weeks, and now Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road, Gods of Egypt) has also been put forward for a major role in the franchise. The details on this are pretty slim for the moment but Deadline, who broke the story, had this to say (paraphrasing), “she’s sexy, dangerous, has fake human skin, and cold snake-like eyes. She doesn’t come in until the seventh book, but will be starring in the first film.“. The character name given by Deadline was Tirana, but this is not an actual name from the books. So, who is Tirana?
Nikolaj Arcel as director, Idris Elba as the Gunslinger, and Matthew McConaughey as Randall Flagg. That’s a pretty solid line-up, but we’re still to hear anything on who will play Jake Chambers.
Neither has there been any mention that production has actually started, and with Sony previously being noted as wanting to have a January 2017 release, they’ll need to get their skates on.
Winter releases are traditional times for movies with darker themes, so it’s understandable why Sony have said January, but that’s now just 10 months away. Sure, this first movie will likely be the simplest to make, but that’s still a pretty short time to get it done in — if we expect shooting to take 3 months, and post-production to take 6 months, then that stil gives them some room to play around with. Well, as they say, time will tell…
UPDATE: various sources around the internet are reporting that the release date has been pushed back to February 17, 2017.