Stephen King is an incredibly prolific author, having written over 150 novels, short stories, screenplays and graphic novels over the course of his life. From brilliant horror literature like The Shining to poignant coming-of-age tales like Stand by Me (written as The Body), it sometimes boggles the mind to consider just how many important cultural touchstones King has delivered during his career.

The works that speak to King’s imagination best must certainly be the books in the author’s epic sci-fi/fantasy series, The Dark Tower. Not only does the series span seven novels (with an eighth on the way), but it also touches on many of King’s other books and stories, serving as a linchpin to the entire universe King has created through his body of work. (There’s even a whole Wikipedia article dedicated to the connections between The Dark Tower and other Stephen King books.)

When you factor in the graphic novel series, and the upcoming Dark Tower movie and TV series, it’s easy to see that this franchise is King’s greatest (or at least biggest) achievement. It’s no wonder then that director Ron Howard stays up at nights wondering exactly how he’s going to make it all work.

Late last week in an article for the Los Angeles Times, Howard spoke about the challenges of bringing King’s epic work to the big screen and then to the small screen and then to the big screen again. The lengthy article gives an update on the progress of the production of the film and TV series, but we covered that in our Weekend Wrap-Up already. What was more interesting was hearing Howard’s reverence for the material.

Acknowledging the challenge, he and producer Akiva Goldsman (pictured above right) have in bringing the series to life on the big screen, Howard said he “can’t stop thinking” about the project.

“We’ve been meeting and talking and I’ve been reading and researching and just kind of living with it. I’ve been constantly going through stuff and I’ve just been re-listening to it [on audio books] on my iPod and we’ve been sending e-mails back and forth, ‘What about this approach? What do you think of this idea?’ We’re finding the shape of it. We’re moving quickly now, as quickly as we can, and I feel challenged in the most exciting ways.”

Howard also revealed that, despite his success in bringing other massively popular novels to the big screen (the Dan Brown thrillers The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons), the sheer scope of The Dark Tower‘s mythology makes this different.

“[The Da Vinci Code] was about getting the story and the action and focusing on acting. With this, there’s this entire world and all of these references and there are the books and the graphic novels and just talking to Stephen and it’s all this ongoing conversation with the material and it’s really exciting. In all of it, he leaves a lot open to interpretation and so it gives a great deal of latitude.”

Howard said that the grandness of King’s work wouldn’t be a focus of the project however, and that they would be trying to keep it simple. Perhaps the biggest issue Howard faces is casting the lead role of Roland the Gunslinger. Howard discussed how Dark Tower fan websites want Viggo Mortensen for the role, and he also confirmed some additional rumored contenders for the part, including Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman and Jon Hamm (whose superlative work in Mad Men also has the actor rumored to play Superman).

Given that the film hasn’t even been officially green-lit, there are still a ton of pieces that need to fall into place before The Dark Tower can really start rolling toward its 2013 release date. Considering Ron Howard’s infectious enthusiasm for the project, however, it seems like the project could really break the mold in a lot of interesting ways.

I know there are a ton of Stephen King fans among Screen Rant readers (why else would a simple story about a Firestarter reboot get over 80 comments), so let’s hear what you think of Ron Howard’s approach to the material. While you’re at it, let’s figure out exactly who should play Roland. Are you on the Viggo Mortensen bandwagon too?

Source: LA Times