After a nearly decade-long development cycle that has seen the project go through multiple iterations and two different stars (Javier Bardem and Russell Crowe), an adaptation of Stephen King’s magnum opus The Dark Tower is currently in production. While earlier attempts envisioned a sprawling epic that would include three feature films and a pair of limited-run television series as the connective tissue in between, the version conceived by writer-director Nikolaj Arcel seems to be focused mostly on the first and third books in the seven-volume series, while mixing in various elements from other installments. If the long-awaited project is a hit with audiences, then more films could potentially follow, but at this point nothing is guaranteed.
Headlining The Dark Tower are Idris Elba as the last gunslinger Roland Deschain, and Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black, a lifelong nemesis of Roland who changes identities as effortlessly as most people change clothes. Speaking with Jon Favreau in a piece for Interview magazine, Elba disclosed something of an unlikely influence on his decision to don a leather duster and a pair of antique pistols. Here’s the full exchange:
FAVREAU: When I worked with Daniel Craig [Cowboys & Aliens, 2011], he said that dressing up and playing a cowboy is universal, not just an American fantasy. Is it something that was appealing to you?
ELBA: [laughs] Yeah, I mean, I used to watch Bonanza. Do you even know what that is?
FAVREAU: Yeah. I guess it took a while for our programs to get to you, because that was before my time.
ELBA: [laughs] Bonanza, man. I’ve always wanted to try the whole cowboy feel and look, so when I took this role, I was wondering, “Are we going to bring that to life in this character? Is he a real cowboy?” And the answer was no. We had to reinvent that a little bit because the world—it’s quite a fantastical world and we aren’t making a Western. But there’s definitely some characteristics from those great cowboy movies, the Sergio Leone movies and all. I was definitely drawn to it. I’ve got two smoking guns that just look incredible, and I love to pull them out whenever I can. [laughs]
The image of a young Idris Elba camped out in front of his television and watching episodes of Bonanza is pretty much the most endearing thing I can imagine. But even if he had never seen a Western before, I would still be in favor of Elba’s casting as Roland. He just has that grizzled, world-weary feeling about him, which is a perfect match for the character, and I’m hoping The Dark Tower doesn’t turn out to be just a one-shot affair.
Also starring Jackie Earle Haley, Tom Taylor and Abbey Lee, The Dark Tower will hit theaters on February 17, 2017.
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