Earlier this week, new set photos surfaced as the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower continues production in New York City. These images gave us a new look at Idris Elba's Roland Deschain, a.k.a. The Gunslinger, and also our first look at Jackie Earle Haley as Sayre. It seems we didn't have to wait too much longer for even more images, with both Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey gracing the cover of Entertainment Weekly's special Comic-Con edition, along with new photos of both actors.
Entertainment Weekly got to spend a week on the set of The Dark Tower, where they learned that this movie will "remix" the iconic Stephen King novels to provide a new "cinematic origin story." The author himself has already teased that there will be big changes from the book, with some speculating that this movie is actually a continuation of the novel series, instead of an adaptation of the books. The site got to speak with Idris Elba, who offered some insight into Roland's mindset when we first meet him in the movie, teasing that he has "forgotten the face of his father," a phrase from the novels which means a character has lost his way.
"When we meet Roland he's a bit lost. He's been walking around for a long time, so he definitely feels like a man who's... coiled. That's a sense of, 'You've forgotten your purpose. He's a protector."
Roland crosses paths with a teenage boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), who lives in our world and possesses a powerful psychic gift known as The Shine. The Man in Black wants to exploit this power to find new worlds to destroy, with Roland finding new purpose in protecting this boy. Here's what Idris Elba had to say.
"Until he meets Jake, he doesn't have anything to believe in, really. He's really pent up and releases his soul through [defending] the boy."
The casting of Idris Elba as The Gunslinger was quite controversial, since this iconic character is portrayed as a white man in the original novels. The casting received the blessing of Stephen King himself, who had nothing but high praise for the actor in a recent interview. When asked about taking on this iconic role, Idris Elba revealed he was "thrilled" to win the role.
"I was thrilled. I was thrilled to get this job. I was thrilled because, you know, it's an alternative to what you could say, what Roland is described as. A white guy in a sense, but, also just that you could make a version of this film that appealed to a slightly more action-hero type character and I don't do those films. I haven't done many actions films. I like to bring a little depth and bring a real character. And what's been fun is, Nik's really up for that. So we do takes that are a little bit more commercial, if you like, and we do takes that are f-ing deep, like we're making an independent film. It's an iconic character. I want to get it right. It's better just to treat it like no big deal. There should be no difference. The character that was written in Stephen's imagination, it could be any color. It just happens to be me and, you know? In the artwork, it just so happens to be a white guy, but I don't think that makes any difference. I think what's great about it, if I want to say anything about it, is that it is a sign of the times in terms of a colorless society. People go, 'A good actor is a good actor,' you know?"
The site also has a scene description, where Idris Elba's Roland Deschain is standing on the roof of the Dixie Pig, a "way station" in New York City where creatures from other worlds can disguise themselves as humans. The scene was shot at the Werdmuller Centre, a former shopping mall in Cape Town South Africa. There are also other actors "lurking in the shadows" who are part of the Taheen, half-demon, half-human creatures who disguise themselves as humans.
The scene follows Roland as he enters a room in the Dixie Pig with hundreds of scalps, which the Taheen use to disguise themslves as humans. Roland takes out the Taheen with the butt of his revolver, only firing his weapon when absolutely necessary. He also scares off a Taheen who appears to be a middle-aged man with just a look, his reputation as the last Gunslinger preceding him. Here's what Idris Elba had to say about how "efficient" Roland truly is.
"He's just very efficient in that sense. You know, if he can clear a room with five bullets as supposed to six, he will. There's a mystical element to him," Elba says during his break between scenes. "He's about 200 years old. He's been around for a long time, and has a deep-rooted connection with the [supernatural] nature of the film. Roland's completely tuned into that. When you meet him, he's very much a stoic man, doesn't want to talk. But when you get to know him, he really knows quite a bit about the world and his world's history. And he very much knows the way The Man in Black works. He's so clued up on that, which is what frustrates him. Because he can't catch him."
The site also revealed new details about Matthew McConaughey's Walter, a.k.a. The Man in Black. It seems that the actor was actually considering playing either Walter in this movie, or Randall Flagg from an upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand, which are in essence the same person. The site reveals that he won't be referred to as Randall Flagg in this adaptation on his quest to find and destroy The Dark Tower, which serves as a "hub at the center of many dimensions." Here's what Matthew McConaughey had to say about taking one of of his first ever villain roles.
"Well, he is a man, actually. They wanted to go very human and grounded with this. Obviously there are mythical proportions of good and evil in Walter. But we didn't want to go overly fantastic. That would drop the humanity. So Walter, for me, is a man who exposes hypocrisies. You know, he's not literally the Devil, but I sure as hell think about him like the Devil. I think like the Devil would. There's a great Black Sabbath line that fits the guy very well. 'Follow me now / and you will not regret / leaving the life you led / before we met."
Stephen King has previously confirmed that the movie will start with the iconic opening line of his novel, "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." It is hinted that, while Roland thinks he's "hunting Walter," he may actually be falling into a trap set by the Man in Black, who is responsible for destroying everything Roland held dear. While Roland truly hates Walter, Matthew McConaughey revealed that Walter has respect for Roland.
"I revere him. He's really the only true adversary I have. I expose hypocrisies, and he's the closest to pure there is. It's his persistent, resilience to be good and altruistic. He's very precious to me. I almost don't want to see him go. So many times I'm just pumping him up, through sorcery, almost like the man in the corner of the ring for a boxer. 'Come on ... you can do this ... stay in the game,' because I want to keep him, I want to keep his vengeance to find me. I want to keep that very vital, you know? My want, my need, my mission is to bring down the Tower. My love, my adoration, my muse, my shadow, is Roland."
Roland despises Walter because he previously destroyed Mid-World and killed everyone The Gunslinger loved. If Walter accomplishes his mission and destroys The Dark Tower, every one of the dimensions that meet at this iconic location will crumble. Here's what Matthew McConaughey had to say about Walter's plan.
"All the gaps between the worlds are filled with blackness and evil. Once I bring the Tower down, and take a seat next to the Crimson King, I've got my own plans from there as well."
The new photo of Matthew McConaughey as Walter gives us a glimpse at the Dixie Pig, from the scene previously described with Roland, where the Taheen are seen bowing for him. While the Taheen are ruled by Walter, the Man in Black is ruled by the Crimson King, described as a "god-like entity" who will be resurrected to rule in the midst of the chaos if and when The Dark Tower is destroyed. We can see a "glowering red eye" in the photo, which is the Crimson King's "sigul," which is also seen in a symbol Walter wears on a chain around his neck.
"That's the talisman of the king, yes, and nothing else. I didn't want to be covered in accoutrements."
Walter has come to the Dixie Pig in search of Jake Chambers, whose ability known as The Shine could be used to break down The Dark Tower's "trans-dimensional beams." While we don't see him in the photo, Walter has come to visit Sayre, who presides over the Dixie Pig and is described as a "low man of high rank." This report reveals that Walter is quite bored when the movie starts, hanging out in another dimension at a place known as Devar-toi, a "Norman Rockwell-like neighborhood that keeps the captured psychics content until they can be enslaved to help blast at the Tower." Here's what Matthew McConaughey had to say about Walter's progress, and how Walter needs to find the "Breaker" named Jake to complete his mission.
"I'm at home base, Breaker Central, doing the daily ritual of choosing the children and running the break. And we've been doing this for some time now, but we haven't been able to bring down this Tower. We've shook the dust off it quite a bit, thrown a few boulders but haven't found the right all-star with the shine to actually bring it down. So we go through the daily ritual of chopping down this proverbial tree. (Finding Jake) is great news! One, this is what I need to get the job done. Two, it's a field trip for me. I haven't been down there in a long time. The Devil likes New York. Let's go sing and dance and do some detective work and find the boy with The Shine and bring him back and use him!"
It isn't known how much longer production will last on The Dark Tower, which is scheduled for release on February 17, 2017. The supporting cast also includes Abbey Lee, Katheryn Winnick and Michael Barbieri, with Nikolaj Arcel directing from an adapted screenplay by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner. Take a look at the EW cover and photos with Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, and stay tuned for more on The Dark Tower.