It’s the news Stephen King nerds have been waiting a long time to see set in stone, and now, those names we’ve been hearing for months as the potential lead actors have been confirmed: Entertainment Weekly reports Idris Elba is set to play the gunslinger Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower adaptation, and Matthew McConaughey will play his nemesis, the man in black. And yes, this means we have many months of civil online discussion to look forward to, as is the norm for the internet.
In a lengthy interview with King and the upcoming film’s director and co-writer Nikolaj Arcel, EW goes through the plan for the massive undertaking, which—assuming all goes well, and this eight-book series isn’t a Chronicles Of Narnia-level fiasco on the big screen—may indeed conform to the plan for a series of films filled out with a TV miniseries providing the voluminous backstory. But for now, it’s baby steps, as the creative team is just focusing on the first film, with Arcel declining to clarify which books and stories the initial feature will draw from. (Though Mad Max: Fury Road’s Abbey Lee is still in talks to appear as Tirana.)
The man behind the camera is even throwing a sop to people asking questions about Elba in the lead role, given the role that racial tension plays in the novels, as Deschain forms a bond with Susannah, a black amputee the gunslinger draws into his world from 1964. “Some fans are asking, understandably, ‘What about the racial tension?’” Arcel says, nodding to Susannah’s less-than-pleased reaction to having some white guy pull her into another dimension. “But as the story progresses that will be made clear, how we’ll deal with all those things.” (Presumably, Arcel has a better plan than “Build a giant wall between dimensions and somehow force the man in black to pay for it.”)
Speaking of that demonic character, there’s also an interesting discussion of McConaughey’s villain (who often goes by “Walter Padick”). Arcel says the hiring of McConaughey will lend a new aspect to the role, as well as help to flesh out the malevolent force. As Arcel explains, “Being a Stephen King fan, I’ve read and experienced Walter in various iterations. He has a very interesting way of seeing the world. He sees it with a sort of delight, even though he is obviously on the wrong side of the light-and-dark spectrum. He’s someone I’ve been having a lot of fun with.” No word yet on when shooting will begin—and frankly, given all the starts and stops over the years, we’re not betting on anything until the cameras capture the last frame—but there’s at least one person who seems to eager to get started: