A film adaptation of Stephen King’s eight-book, fantasy western series, The Dark Tower, has been a long time coming: since 2007, the project has shifted from a movie trilogy (with a corresponding TV series attached to it) to a single movie, and with big-name directors and studios, including J.J. Abrams, Ron Howard, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures, at one time onboard. After finally finding a home with Sony Pictures, production has since moved forward, and filming is currently underway with director Nikolaj Arcel (director of A Royal Affair and writer of the Swedish-language Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2009) at the helm.
For a sneak peek at the movie, which stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey as Roland the Gunslinger and the Man in Black, respectively, EW interviewed King and Arcel as part of Behind the Scenes with Anthony Breznician, a weekly Sirius XM radio show. While both men, for the most part, kept a tight lid on details related to the film and its production process, they did drop a few hints for fans who have been eagerly awaiting the adaptation over the course of its near-decade process.
For one, Arcel and King discussed the film’s timeline. “The movie will start where the books start,” King confirmed. “The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed. I've been pretty insistent about that, and I think everybody's on board with it.” But while the book series begins with The Gunslinger (1982), the movie will not adapt its storyline. “It starts sort of in the middle of the story, rather than the beginning,” King specified, “which may upset some of the fans a little bit, but they’ll get behind it because it is the story.” For those of you not familiar with the plot, The Dark Tower series follows Gunslinger (Elba) as he roams an imaginative, Old-West style landscape, in search of a dark tower he hopes can preserve his dying world.
During the interview, King also praised the film’s stars, Elba and McConaughey, expressing his excitement over seeing the two Hollywood headliners work together. “I think [Elba’s] one of the best actors working in the business now,” King said. “Idris is someone who I’ve loved since watching The Wire,” Arcel added, noting that casting the English actor as the film’s gun-slinging protagonist was a no-brainer. “I’ve been following his career for a long time, and when we started talking, for me, it just clicked.”
The two men also expressed their faith in McConaughey as the malevolent Man in Black. “We have a lot of layers to him,” Arcel said of the shape-shifting villain, who appears in at least nine of King’s novels under different aliases. “He’s not just this one-note villain. I think we’re very true to the novels.”
With King expressing such confidence in the film’s direction, not to mention how ardently he’s singing the creative team’s praises, fans can sleep peacefully—especially considering The Dark Tower series is one of King’s more complex (and therefore cinematically daunting) pieces of storytelling. Although it’s been a project nine years in the making, so far it sounds as if nine years was well worth the wait.
We will continue to keep you updated on the status of The Dark Tower, which is set to be released on February 17, 2017.