Films

Confirmed: Idris Elba & Matthew McConaughey to star in The Dark Tower

It's felt more like The Neverending Story at times, but the film adaptation of Stephen King's legendary Dark Tower series is finally about to begin: Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey have been confirmed as the two leads.

The news came via a tweet from the man himself:

He also confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that the first line of the first Dark Tower book will also be opening the film.

"It should start that way. I’ve been pretty insistent about that. ...[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."

EW also confirmed that the film will not be an adaptation of the first book of eight in the series, The Gunslinger, which had been widely expected. It is not known which book, or books, will be the source material but seemingly "a lot" of the movie will take place in the modern world - which seems to mean it won't be based on the fourth book, Wizard and Glass, which deals with flashbacks to Roland's youth.

Elba will play Roland Deschain, the gunslinger, with McConaughey lining up as his mystical foe: Randall Flagg, aka The Man in Black. They immediately set about establishing their rivalry on Twitter:

The movie will be directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel, with shooting due to start in South Africa next month.

Arcel explained to EW: “What Stephen King does best is mixing the everyday, or what you might call the mundane, with the fantastical,” says Arcel. “In my view, [The Dark Tower] novels are a mix between sci-fi and fantasy and modern times. That exact mix is so Stephen King.”

King added: “The thing is, it’s been a looong trip from the books to the film. When you think about it, I started these stories as a senior in college, sitting in a little shitty cabin beside the river in Maine, and finally this thing is actually in pre-production now. I’m delighted, and I’m a little bit surprised.”

Explaining their choice of Elba, Arcel said: "For me, it just clicked. He’s such a formidable man. I had to go to Idris and tell him my vision for the entire journey with Roland and the ka-tet. We discussed, who is this character? What’s he about? What’s his quest? What’s his psychology? We tried to figure out if we saw the same guy. And we absolutely had all the same ideas and thoughts. He had a unique vision for who Roland would be.”

King continued: “I love it. I think he’s a terrific actor, one of the best working in the business now”.

Addressing fans' concerns that the character had initially been conceived as white, he added, “For me the character is still the character. It’s almost a Sergio Leone character, like ‘the man with no name. He can be white or black, it makes no difference to me. I think it opens all kind of exciting possibilities for the backstory.”

For now, The Dark Tower will just be one film, as opposed to the trilogy and accompanying miniseries that was once mooted.

King explained: “Other people have tried fantasy spectacle. Sometimes it works, sometimes it works really well when it’s based on a series of books, like The Hunger Games or Harry Potter, and sometimes it doesn’t. What I have to go back to is this: We have Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, two great actors. You’ve got a great production team and Akiva Goldsman as the primary script writer. The team is in place, so we’ll hope for the best.”

[via Entertainment Weekly]