Universal Considers Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen for Roland Deschain in THE DARK TOWER

     December 30, 2010

By virtue of ambition, Universal’s undertaking to adapt Stephen King’s The Dark Tower novels ought to be fun to track through the development process.  Ron Howard is signed to direct the first film of a planned trilogy.  The intent is to fill the gap between each film with the season of  Dark Tower on television.

The Hollywood agencies are understandably doing everything they can to get their clients in a room with the producers of such a hot property.  The studio has reportedly narrowed down the list of actors to play Roland Deschain, the main character from the books.  At the moment Javier Bardem is the leading candidate; Viggo Mortensen is a “close second.”  More after the jump:

The New York Post suggests that the same cast will be used for all three films and the television series, which should be viable for at least the secondary players.  But there may be some wiggle room with the lead.  The Post repeats what they’ve been hearing about the narrative structure of the project:

According to reports, they plan to start with an epic movie, then continue the story with the TV series, followed by a second film, and then a second TV season showing gunslinger Deschain as a young man. Then, the third movie will end the saga with Deschain as an older man.

Biutiful-movie-image-Javier-BardemSo the A-lister who eventually signs on to play Roland probably wouldn’t be involved with the second season.  I’m still eager to hear how many episodes they’re thinking about for each season, to get a better sense of just how grueling the Dark Tower schedule will be.

In the novels, King compares Roland to the ponchoed Clint Eastwood from the Man with No Name series, which is evident from the illustrations on the various book covers.  Bardem and (to a very slightly lesser extent) Mortensen both seem like a great fit for a very masculine character.  I sign off on either choice.

The first Dark Tower film is scheduled to hit theaters on May 17, 2013.  Here’s a brief character description for Roland Deschain:

At the start of the story, Roland is in his 40s, but is physically in his 50s at the end of The Gunslinger, when his age is arrested as he slumbers for centuries. Most of his hair is gray or white, but some remains black. His facial features are described as rough (although Susannah once compared them to that of a tired poet), and he has light blue eyes, often referred to by characters and Stephen King as “bombardier’s eyes.” Roland lost his right big toe and his right index and middle fingers, which is problematic as he is right-handed in everything other than shooting. He is a strong and disciplined man, capable of working through injuries and illnesses that would have killed or incapacitated another man. Roland is also unusually tall; at 14, he stood taller than the 16-year-old Susan, and, as an adult, his height exceeds that of his father…

Emotionally, Roland at times appears detached or unsympathetic, often reacting uncaring or angry at signs of cowardice or self-pity, yet he possess a strong sense of heroism, often attempting to help those in need. He is shown to be mentally scarred from the deaths of all his friends and family, often thinking about their words and actions, and he is said (on more than one occasion by himself) that he greatly lacks imagination. He also describes himself as “not very good in thinking around corners”, meaning he has a very practical character, never really seeking other meanings or intentions behind what he sees, although he is very perceptive and intelligent. Cuthbert, Roland’s best friend in his childhood, once said the gears in Roland’s head turn slow, but grind extremely well. Roland is not very patient, especially when he is under stress, and often makes a rotating gesture with his hand, which means ‘go on, hurry, move on’ in conversations. Similarly, he prefers not to over-plan his actions, trusting greatly in his instinct and skill at improvising according to the situation. He is also shown not to have a great sense of humor: though he knows a lot of riddles he rarely jokes and is visibly irritated at times when Eddie (and in the past, Cuthbert) joke around. Roland is not one for small talk. [Wikipedia]

And here is the synopsis for the series:

In the story, Roland Deschain is the last living member of a knightly order known as gunslingers and the last of the line of “Arthur Eld”, his world’s analogue of King Arthur. The world he lives in is quite different from our own, yet it bears striking similarities to it. Politically organized along the lines of a feudal society, it shares technological and social characteristics with the American Old West but is also magical. While the magical aspects are largely gone from Mid-World, some vestiges of them remain, along with the relics of a highly advanced, but long vanished, society. Roland’s quest is to find the Dark Tower, a fabled building said to be the nexus of all universes. Roland’s world is said to have “moved on”, and indeed it appears to be coming apart at the seams as mighty nations have been torn apart by war, entire cities and regions vanish without a trace and time does not flow in an orderly fashion. Even the Sun sometimes rises in the north and sets in the east. As the series opens, Roland’s motives, goals and age are unclear, though later installments shed light on these mysteries. [Wikipedia]

  • Conoro

    My Lord, looking at the novel’s cover… imagine if Eastwood was suitably aged. He would be utterly perfect.

    As is stands, either Bardem or Mortensen would be incredible in this role. Mortensen is apparently the collective fan’s choice, but the two are truly interchangeable, in my opinion.

  • Conoro


  • nelson

    viggo is in his 50′s already does he really want to be attached to such a huge commitment

  • tazmaniak

    I do agree that a man of 52 probably doesn’t want to sign up for a massive project like this that involves a lot of action and elaborate stunts, and requires several years of dedication.

    Also, while Mortensen is a great actor, he really doesn’t fit the image of Roland.He’s described as tall, lanky and imposing, while Viggo is very tall at 5’11.He certainly isn’t physically imposing.Are they going to hire all the other actors to be smaller than him.

  • Bill Graham

    I just don’t see Javier as Roland. He is a wonderful actor, but Chigur is not a cowboy by any stretch. The template is Eastwood, and personally, if you aged Daniel Craig, he might work. Harrison Ford would be nice, but there’s no chance he is doing more action-heavy film series. he has one he can’t seem to quit already, despite his age.

    Also, Roland doesn’t have to strike fear in people. His gun does that for him. He is a relic of a time passed on that wields a revolver; he’s a gunslinger. He is tough, but he doesn’t have to be all that intimidating. He just needs to look aged and weathered. Weary from chasing down The Man In Black. Viggo fits that bill, in my opinion.

  • anen

    The last I’ve seen or heard of Viggo was that he’s been hiding out in Spain with a new gf and by the looks of the pictures he looking like a grandpa! to want to be attached to such a huge commitment hhmm quite questionable.

  • belle

    Javier for sure! He is dark and sexy and has that incredible voice. And he can really act. Viggo Mortensen is too old and also seems to have the same one note monotone voice in his films. They would have to t use a lot of lighting and makeup for him, but I don’t think that would hide the look in his eyes lately. He seems old and like he has given up on life. Is he sick? I know a lot of times Hollywood hides when their stars are really sick, but ships them off to these places where they get blood transfusions, oxygen therapy and all sorts of bizarre things.

  • rob

    Hugh Jackman…. Watch him come out of the mist with the cowboy hat on in “Australia” he’s Clint Eastwood from 20 years ago. He’s be awesome!

  • Tom

    Javier is 5″ 8″. Too short for Roland without proper casting, may it do ya fine.

  • jay

    I know this might seem strange, but i think they should go for the Keanu Reeves taylor Ksitch double. since they seem to fit the charachteristics required. And they look similar.

    both are Tall. 6’1 or 6’2 which is massive in hollywood, they are both the right age for the character

    • sloan

      are you fucking serious? Viggo is a total doucher and i believe the world got enough of him from the lord of the rings. But taylor kitsch and keanu fucking reeves? Get the fuck out!

  • xianneh

    Gerard Butler in my opinion :)


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  • Dave

    Roland Deschain is a American character. Honestly, did Ron Howard even read the books?
    There are probably a hundred unknown actors that would be great in the part were they given the chance. Actors that can at least play American. If you want someone familiar Hugh Jackman would be a great choice but he’s getting a little old for a 6 year long project playing a action hero as is Javier Bardem a man who barely speaks English. Casting is everything and I would hate to see another Stephen King movie ruined because they just gave the role to some sentimental or politically popular star. If they haven’t done real auditions they are nuts! I’ve been waiting for a “The Dark Tower” movie for over 15 years and I find the idea of a Spanish actor playing Roland insulting.

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  • dave

    Viggo Mortensen is the perfect choice. People remember him as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. But I remember him as a very powerful actor who played kick ass characters in Eastern Promises, Appaloosa, and History if Violence.