Universal Considers Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen for Roland Deschain in THE DARK TOWER

     December 30, 2010

By virtue of ambition, Universal’s undertaking to adapt Stephen King’s The Dark Tower novels ought to be fun to track through the development process.  Ron Howard is signed to direct the first film of a planned trilogy.  The intent is to fill the gap between each film with the season of  Dark Tower on television.

The Hollywood agencies are understandably doing everything they can to get their clients in a room with the producers of such a hot property.  The studio has reportedly narrowed down the list of actors to play Roland Deschain, the main character from the books.  At the moment Javier Bardem is the leading candidate; Viggo Mortensen is a “close second.”  More after the jump:

The New York Post suggests that the same cast will be used for all three films and the television series, which should be viable for at least the secondary players.  But there may be some wiggle room with the lead.  The Post repeats what they’ve been hearing about the narrative structure of the project:

According to reports, they plan to start with an epic movie, then continue the story with the TV series, followed by a second film, and then a second TV season showing gunslinger Deschain as a young man. Then, the third movie will end the saga with Deschain as an older man.

Biutiful-movie-image-Javier-BardemSo the A-lister who eventually signs on to play Roland probably wouldn’t be involved with the second season.  I’m still eager to hear how many episodes they’re thinking about for each season, to get a better sense of just how grueling the Dark Tower schedule will be.

In the novels, King compares Roland to the ponchoed Clint Eastwood from the Man with No Name series, which is evident from the illustrations on the various book covers.  Bardem and (to a very slightly lesser extent) Mortensen both seem like a great fit for a very masculine character.  I sign off on either choice.

The first Dark Tower film is scheduled to hit theaters on May 17, 2013.  Here’s a brief character description for Roland Deschain:

At the start of the story, Roland is in his 40s, but is physically in his 50s at the end of The Gunslinger, when his age is arrested as he slumbers for centuries. Most of his hair is gray or white, but some remains black. His facial features are described as rough (although Susannah once compared them to that of a tired poet), and he has light blue eyes, often referred to by characters and Stephen King as “bombardier’s eyes.” Roland lost his right big toe and his right index and middle fingers, which is problematic as he is right-handed in everything other than shooting. He is a strong and disciplined man, capable of working through injuries and illnesses that would have killed or incapacitated another man. Roland is also unusually tall; at 14, he stood taller than the 16-year-old Susan, and, as an adult, his height exceeds that of his father…

Emotionally, Roland at times appears detached or unsympathetic, often reacting uncaring or angry at signs of cowardice or self-pity, yet he possess a strong sense of heroism, often attempting to help those in need. He is shown to be mentally scarred from the deaths of all his friends and family, often thinking about their words and actions, and he is said (on more than one occasion by himself) that he greatly lacks imagination. He also describes himself as “not very good in thinking around corners”, meaning he has a very practical character, never really seeking other meanings or intentions behind what he sees, although he is very perceptive and intelligent. Cuthbert, Roland’s best friend in his childhood, once said the gears in Roland’s head turn slow, but grind extremely well. Roland is not very patient, especially when he is under stress, and often makes a rotating gesture with his hand, which means ‘go on, hurry, move on’ in conversations. Similarly, he prefers not to over-plan his actions, trusting greatly in his instinct and skill at improvising according to the situation. He is also shown not to have a great sense of humor: though he knows a lot of riddles he rarely jokes and is visibly irritated at times when Eddie (and in the past, Cuthbert) joke around. Roland is not one for small talk. [Wikipedia]

And here is the synopsis for the series:

In the story, Roland Deschain is the last living member of a knightly order known as gunslingers and the last of the line of “Arthur Eld”, his world’s analogue of King Arthur. The world he lives in is quite different from our own, yet it bears striking similarities to it. Politically organized along the lines of a feudal society, it shares technological and social characteristics with the American Old West but is also magical. While the magical aspects are largely gone from Mid-World, some vestiges of them remain, along with the relics of a highly advanced, but long vanished, society. Roland’s quest is to find the Dark Tower, a fabled building said to be the nexus of all universes. Roland’s world is said to have “moved on”, and indeed it appears to be coming apart at the seams as mighty nations have been torn apart by war, entire cities and regions vanish without a trace and time does not flow in an orderly fashion. Even the Sun sometimes rises in the north and sets in the east. As the series opens, Roland’s motives, goals and age are unclear, though later installments shed light on these mysteries. [Wikipedia]

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