‘The Dark Tower’ Casts ‘Fury Road’s Abbey Lee in a Role That Will Confuse Fans
After years of development, The Dark Tower film based on Stephen King’s series of novels is finally heading to the big screen, with Idris Elba in the role of gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the villainous Man in Black. Today brings another interesting addition to the cast, as Mad Max: Fury Road star Abbey Lee has joined the ambitious, long-developing project…but the description of her role will have Dark Tower fans seriously scratching their heads.
Deadline reports that Lee has signed on to play a leading role in The Dark Tower opposite Elba and McConaughey — that’s all well and good, but it’s the character’s name that raises an eyebrow. Lee is reportedly playing a character called Tirana, and if you’re a Dark Tower fan who can’t recall that name, you’re not alone. Even I had to Google it, and I love the series. Tirana was a minor character in the seventh and final book, one of the “Low Men” who featured briefly in a climactic sequence set in a club in New York City.
At first it seemed possible that the trades had the character’s name wrong or that director Nikolaj Arcel and screenwriting partner Anders Thomas Jensen simply repurposed the Tirana name for another key character (the story also has both a Susan and a Susannah, so changing one of those names would be understandable), further updates on the casting do nothing to clarify the confusion:
Deadline describes Tirana as “sexy and dangerous, she has fake human skin and cold snake-like eyes,” while The Wrap’s Jeff Sneider confirmed that description. This would suggest that Tirana is indeed one of the Low Men, also known as Can-Toi — they are antagonistic characters who have the mutated heads of animals (rats, birds, etc.), and wear human skin to disguise their true identity when operating in our world.
Akiva Goldsman wrote the previous draft of the screenplay, which has some fairly baffling elements and utilizes parts of the seventh book right up front, though Tirana is never mentioned in his draft. It’s a very curious and confusing bit of casting, though Universal is still committed to developing an entire franchise based on all seven Dark Tower books, which includes plans for a supplementary television series. It is possible that Tirana appears in some sort of framing device — perhaps the first film begins with a climactic scene from the final book before flashing back to how it began.
It is also possible that Tirana is based on more than one character. The story also features a manipulative witch named Rhea who figures into the bigger scheme of things.
This is all speculation, obviously, but Lee’s casting may be the first of many unexpected turns, and seems to signal that Arcel and Jensen are not making a rigidly faithful adaptation.