At the beginning of the year it was announced that Universal Pictures had tapped actor Javier Bardem to star in the adaptation of The Dark Tower, the 7-novel sci-fi/fantasy/western series by acclaimed author Stephen King.
Since that initial announcement, we've seen Bardem slowly circling the massive and ambitious project, with producer Brian Grazer promising us just last month that the actor was "psychologically locked" for the role, and would soon sign on the dotted line.
Well, today Deadline is reporting that Bardem's commitment to Dark Tower has gone from psychological to contractual; the Oscar-winning actor is in final negotiations to play Roland Deschain, the last living member of a "knightly order of gunslingers" who must save his world by journeying to find the titular Dark Tower. King's novel series blended elements of westerns, sci-fi and fantasy genres, and has become something of a cult-hit amongst readers.
If you're wondering why this deal with Bardem has been so long in the making - it's because the actor has a lot to consider before agreeing to the massive commitment that this franchise will require of him. Universal has plans to spread King's epic adventure out over three films, with limited-run Dark Tower TV series premiering in between each film. Bardem would be required to play Roland on both the big and small screens, over the course of the next few years (if not a half decade).
Obviously for an actor as talented as Bardem - who recently received his third Oscar nomination for Biutiful, might play the villain in the next James Bond film, and snagged a role in the next Terrence Malick film - this is no small commitment. But according to Deadline, the money is on the table to help sway him.
The first Dark Tower movie goes into production in September. Ron Howard will direct the film, based on a script by writer/producer/director Akiva Goldsman (Fringe, I Am Legend). Howard and Goldsman will also direct and write the first TV series, respectively.
Bardem was always a good choice to play Roland (as evidenced by his No Country For Old Men performance) and I'm glad they were able to lure him to the franchise. The scope of what's being attempted with this project is unprecedented: the powers behind it actually care about building a cinematic universe that retains its continuity and quality across multiple platforms.
That's a bold move in an age where multi-platform projects often consist of questionable films first, and then second-rate TV spinoffs, books and or video games (TRON, looking at you...). For now, it looks like The Dark Tower franchise will be attempting to set a new standard about how cross-platform franchise are done. Here's hoping it turns out well.
We'll keep you updated, as more casting and production updates about The Dark Tower are likely to come soon.