‘The Dark Tower’ Eyes Idris Elba to Play Stephen King’s Legendary Gunslinger
How’s this for some excellent news: while we’ll likely never see Idris Elba take on the iconic role of James Bond, we might see him take on another franchise character traditionally portrayed as a white man. Elba is reportedly the frontrunner to play legendary gunslinger Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower. Hile, gunslinger!
Deadline reports that Elba is currently the top pick to play Roland of Gilead, son of Steven and the last of the gunslingers in what could be the first in a series of Dark Tower films. Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) is directing the The Dark Tower from a script he rewrote with fellow Danish filmmaker Anders Thomas Jensen (The Salvation), based on a previous draft by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner (LOST).
Matthew McConaughey is in talks to star as the Man in Black, aka Walter O’Dim (aka Randall Flagg from The Stand), Roland’s enigmatic and charismatic arch-nemesis. McConaughey was reportedly offered the roles of both Roland and the Man in Black, though the latest update suggests that he’s settled on the correct choice — Roland would be far too predictable for his skill set.
Deadline cautions that a deal has yet to be made, but it would be huge for Elba and for fans of the series. Many have wanted to see the typically smooth, stylish Elba take on the role of James Bond, though the powers of be seemingly have no interest in changing the race of the iconic super-spy. But Roland is different, since The Dark Tower has so far only existed on the page, leaving the door open for more diversity for the character and for someone like Elba to give us a new iconic hero who also happens to be a person of color.
And to be honest, Elba has what it takes to play Roland — he can do gritty, he can do intimidating, and he can play likable versions of heavily flawed leading men very well. Even his antagonist characters (like Stringer Bell on The Wire) are often appealing.
The Dark Tower is based on Stephen King’s first book in the series, The Gunslinger, which sees Roland Deschain chasing the Man in Black across the deserted wastelands, all in his determined pursuit to reach the Dark Tower, which serves as the hub of time and connects a vast network of worlds. Sony plans to develop all seven books in King’s series as a new franchise, though it’s unclear how much they would condense the properties, if they succeed with the first.