The process of bringing Stephen King’s The Dark Tower saga to the big screen continues to move along, with King and director/co-writer Nikolaj Arcel offering confirmation of the film’s leads this week, as well as some details on how the story will be adapted for the screen.
While Idris Elba was confirmed last month to play Roland Deschain, the gunslinging protagonist of King’s story, the pair also confirmed longstanding rumors that Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey will also play a lead role in the film. According to Arcel — and a series of Twitter updates from King and the actors themselves — the Dallas Buyers Club and Interstellar actor will play the enigmatic Man in Black, the sinister villain that Elba’s character pursues across the wasteland and various worlds.
“Matthew is an incredible actor who can do anything,” Arcel told EW in an interview published this week.
Along with providing additional, official confirmation of Elba as Roland, Arcel offered up some thoughts on why the Beasts of No Nation and Luther actor was the perfect fit for the role of the gunslinger.
“For me, it just clicked. He’s such a formidable man,” said the filmmaker. “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.”
The pair of actors — along with King himself — also engaged in a bit of promotional back-and-forth on Twitter. After some prompting from King, Elba declared that McConaughey will have a “new follower,” with McConaughey responding, “Come and get me, I look forward to it.”
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 1, 2016
— Idris Elba (@idriselba) March 1, 2016
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) March 1, 2016
As for the film itself, Arcel and King provided some hints about how the long saga will make the transition from page to screen, indicating that the movie could begin at a point midway through the novels.
“[The movie] starts in media res, in the middle of the story instead of at the beginning, which may upset some of the fans a little bit, but they’ll get behind it, because it is the story,” teased King.
“A lot of it takes place in our day, in the modern world,” added Arcel.
Fans of the series will recall that portions of the saga involved Roland’s attempts to summon assistance from another world — specifically, New York City in the late ’70s — as part of his quest to stop the Man in Black. This segment of Roland’s journey unfolds primarily in the third installment of the series, The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands.
King also indicated that the movie will begin with the first line from the very first novel in the series, which set the events in motion that would carry readers through the eight novels that King considers his magnum opus: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
The Dark Tower is expected to begin filming in South Africa in a few months. The film is currently scheduled to hit theaters January 13, 2017.