Now that production on the cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is underway, we can’t seem to go more than a day or two without hearing new tidbits from the trenches. Fans are eager to hear anything they can about the production. It’s a bold project, to be certain, but the scope of King’s novels demands it almost as a matter of course.
So far, the specifics of the project are being heavily guarded, with nothing of substance being released aside from casting decisions. Of those, there have been plenty. So far, the series is set to star Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey as Roland Deschain and the Man in Black, respectively, and Tom Taylor (The Last Kingdom) as Roland’s protégé Jake Chambers. On top of that, Fran Kranz (Cabin in the Woods), Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen), Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road), and Katheryn Winnick (Vikings) have also been cast in various supporting roles.
Despite the steady stream of casting decisions being released to the public, the process is far from over. Earlier today, Deadline reported some exclusive information about a new cast member. Michael Barbieri (Little Men) is reportedly in deep talks to play Timmy, best friend to Taylor’s Jake character.
As with earlier casting, the decision to include Timmy in the first movie calls into question the direction Sony is taking with the project. Timmy is a character who doesn’t appear until book three of King’s novel series, suggesting the movies will be taking liberties with the chronology of their source material. With that in mind, there are some inferences that can be made.
With everything we’ve heard so far, it seems like the first movie will combine elements of the first and third books as their main source of inspiration. This makes the casting of Lee, Kranz, and Haley, all of whom are playing “low men” -- minions of the series’ ultimate big bad -- make a bit more sense. They, like Timmy, don’t appear until later in the series, which left many pondering why they had been cast so early. This also lends credence to the idea that Winnick will be playing Jake’s mother. While Sony has yet to comment on her casting, if they’re already in talks to cast friends of Jake then it makes sense that they’re also casting Jake’s family.
In the books, Jake’s journey is somewhat convoluted and difficult to portray. He first appears in The Gunslinger, the first book of King’s series, and appears again in The Wastelands, book three. If they’re combining elements of the first and third books into one movie, then the process is simplified, making it easier to tell the overarching story in a way that makes sense on the screen.
Still, it’s a perilous walk Sony must take. As beloved as the series is by fans, the wrong choice can alienate the core audience and potentially derail the entire project. So while taking liberties with the series chronology might make a bit of sense cinematically, selling that change to fans as the right decision might prove to be more difficult.
Those eager to see the film have no option but to wait and see, however. And with the long and difficult road to bring this story from the page to screen a bit of a legend in its own right, there’s some feeling that fans will take what they can get. Certainly The Dark Tower is one of King’s more complex works, and there’s much of the story that will probably be ignored for the sake of simplicity. We’re sure to hear more about The Dark Tower in the weeks and months ahead, so stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated.
The Dark Tower is set to hit theaters on February 17, 2017.