One of the great untapped Stephen King properties is on its way to finally beginning production after years of false starts, dreamy rumors, and casting issues. The Dark Tower series, King’s famous story of a hero named The Gunslinger and his nemesis, The Man in Black, recently finally got a confirmed director in Nikolaj Arcel, who is best known for helming the Mads Mikkelsen–Alicia Vikander period drama A Royal Affair; he’s also co-penned the script for the film. And in a recent interview alongside King for EW, Arcel went on to confirm that the film will star none other than Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey in the coveted lead roles. Here’s what the writer-director had to say about both performers:
“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.”
“Matthew is an incredible actor who can do anything. That’s how I feel about Walter Padick. He could do anything…He is this timeless sorcerer, and 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.”
It’s been a long time since I personally picked up The Dark Tower series but Elba has been deserving of this sort of major franchise property for several years at this point; if Luther didn’t prove this, I don’t know what would. This, unfortunately, puts a likely damper on his chances of taking on the role of James Bond, a rumor that caused quite the kerfuffel late last year, around the time Spectre hit theaters. Regardless, if memory serves, Elba is the perfect choice for his role, and to see McConaughey in all-out villain mode is that rare treat that has been long overdue for a second helping. If you’ve been lucky enough to see William Friedkin‘s damn-near-perfect Killer Joe, you’ll know what I mean.
During the interview, King confirmed that the film will begin in the middle of the novel’s story, but will encompass the entire storyline that fans have come to love over the years. Meanwhile, Arcel mentioned that the film is set to begin shooting in under two months in South Africa, keeping eyes set on a January 13th, 2017 release date, which means we’re under a year away from seeing the finished product. It’s a tight deadline for release but Arcel seems to have his hands firmly around this thing. Speaking like a true fan, Arcel commented on why he thinks The Dark Tower is quintessential Stephen King, settling out many fears of this being a possible botch job:
“What Stephen King does best is mixing the everyday, or what you might call the mundane, with the fantastical…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.”