With news that the so-hot-right-now Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul was approached/Tweeted his desire to play the role of reformed junkie Eddie Dean in the Warner Bros. movie adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series (aka The Good, The Bad and the Lord Of The Rings), internet interest in the stalled adap – last being bandied around as a multiple-format series of films and TV shows with Russell Crowe starring as ancient gunslinging hero Roland Deschain – has been inflamed anew, not to mention hailed as a piece of perfect casting. Bitch.
While there’s little other evidence that The Dark Tower will be transported to our screens any time soon, the news, coming in the wake of the ratings (if not critical) success of Marvel Studios’ Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D and other movie crossover projects certainly gives the idea a little more weight and credibility than it had previously despite the involvement of Ron Howard and Crowe.
But the question remains, who should take on the other main characters, and what could those actors bring. Below are some educated guesses/suggestions, including a few “budget” choices that might make Warners change their thinking on stumping the cash.
If you have the perfect cast in your head, disagree with a choice, or have a casting idea for a character not featured here (it’s a looooonnnng series of books) please stick them in the comments section, or visit the facebook or Twitter pages.
Let us begin.
Who he? – In short, the protagonist. A badass to end all badasses, the most driven gunslinger in the history of gunslingers, walking and shooting through worlds both mysterious and familiar in his pursuit of The Dark Tower where he will hopefully stop the world from “moving on.”
Who should play him? – Someone capable of going from cold and action-savvy to dramatic and heartfelt in seconds.
It’s really a no-brainer when you think about it; for all his prestige and mystery, in the world of The Dark Tower, Roland is basically Batman with a gun, and Bale has shown that he can do both sides of a dark hero character numerous times. He’s also dedicated enough to put himself through the extremes that Roland’s character faces throughout the story. Though we hope he doesn’t go so far as removing any fingers.
BUDGET CHOICE – Joel Edgerton
Far more low-key in terms of star power than Bale, Edgerton commands enough critical successes on the back of Animal Kingdom and Warrior, where he played stoic pragmatists with heart and intensity, something vital for the Roland character. Couple this with a small price tag and a thousand-yard stare to beat all thousand-yard stares, and he should make Warners’ casting directors shortlist at the very least.
Who he? – Roland’s grizzled mentor, whose teachings are the only thing Roland brings with him, apart from his guns.
Who should play him? Someone who looks like they’ve been through the wars, but who you believe could still kick your ass.
There’s literally nothing about Nick Nolte that doesn’t fit this role; everything from his body shape to his diction suits the old-but-tough-as-nails Cort, someone who would see fit to clout the best gunslinger in all the worlds round the ear like a bad dog. That he’s also a fantastic actor helps, bringing the fatherly emotion that runs beneath the gruff exterior to bear with the subtlety that requires.
BUDGET CHOICE – Edward James Olmos
Anyone who’s watched Battlestar Galactica will be able to testify as to why Olmos is a good pick for Cort, since his Bill Adama is exactly the kind of fatherly ass-kicker in Stephen King’s story. Hearing those famous teachings in his gruff whisper would carry the necessary weight, without necessarily the weight of Nolte’s price-tag. Alternatively, you could get Michael Hogan, who could do the hard drinking part and looks nifty in an eyepatch.
Who he? – The most villainous of villains, with many faces, many magic powers, and a heart of pure evil. Has made appearances in other King tomes as a force of apocalypse.
Who should play him? – someone not afraid to do all manner of crazy crap, then sink into malevolence in the blink of an eye.
PRESTIGE CHOICE – Johnny Depp
Grandiose gestures and leaps from hilarity to horror are required for this character, so who better than the man who made much of his living doing just that for Tim Burton? There’s potential that he might go a bit Alice In Wonderland on it, but it’d be nice to see him play an out and out bad guy for a bit, and in terms of drawing power, he’s one of the best in the business.
BUDGET CHOICE – Michael C. Hall
Whether it be his chilling portrayal of a psychopath in Dexter, or his grandiose hamming as the villain in Gamer, it’s plain to see on screen that Hall has the credentials for Flagg, right down to the murderously friendly smile. The only drawback might be the temptation to just have him play to type, but since that type fits so close to the character on the page, I say go with it.
ODETTA HOLMES/DETTA WALKER/SUSANNAH DEAN
Who she/they? – Eddie Dean’s love interest, a wheelchair-bound refugee from the Civil Rights Movement who just happens to be harbouring three very different people inside her head.
Who should play her/them? – Someone with plenty of range, not afraid to go to extremes in terms of language and peformance.
She’s got the cachè for this, having been the front-and-centre female character in two major blockbusters – that’s Avatar and the Star Trek franchise in case you didn’t know – and she’s a find actress in general. She might be a bit younger than the version in the book, but hell they cast Tom Cruise in the Jack Reacher movie when the original was 6-foot-four blonde and built like a brick poophouse, so a few years won’t make much difference.
BUDGET CHOICE – Naomi Harris
Not sure how much longer she’ll be the budget choice, given all the buzz surrounding her performance as Winnie Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, but she certainly seems to fit the age profile for Odetta/Detta/Susannah, and with the Winnie character has no problem putting herself into other peoples’ personalities. Of course a quirky genre role like this might not be the wisest follow-up for a serious actress, but it’s rare a character with this much meat comes along, and Harris ought to be on the list at the very least.
Who she? – Roland’s long lost love interest, who haunts his memories and his heart.
Who should play her – Someone with wild beauty and wild attitude.
She has the look, the ‘tude, and enough star power on the back of a string of critically and commercially successful roles to stick out in what is guaranteed to be a mammoth cast. The only drawback is that in the books, the character is much younger, and so that might have an effect, but she’s otherwise a perfect fit for the role.
BUDGET CHOICE – Unknown
Given that Susan’s main involvement is in the prequel book Wizard and Glass, there’d be no harm in casting an unknown in the role alongside other unknowns for Young Roland, etc. It’d make a little more financial sense, and would give the characters a chance to breathe, too.
WALTER/THE MAN IN BLACK
Who he? – Shapeshifting, time-jumping, tarot-reading monk and one of Flagg’s premier minions.
Who Should Play him? – Someone on the verge of ham, but not quite there yet.
One of the truly great character actors of our time, Kingsley would be a great fit for the elusive sorcerer, with a track record in villainy and dark humour to beat almost anyone. He also has plenty of gravitas, which would make his more or less passive role feel that much more intense. And any movie with Ben Kingsley in it gets just that little more notice from audiences too.
BUDGET CASTING – Andy Serkis
Probably better known for his mo-cap roles than anything, it’s worth noting that the man in black shares more than a little personality with Serkis’ signature role, the sneaky, double-speaking Gollum from the Rings and Hobbit franchises, and he also has that evil, giggling good humour bit down. He’s a rare thing also, an actor of mid-level notoriety with a startlingly successful CV, in other words, any casting director’s dream.
So there we have it, just a fraction of the ideal casting for a fraction of one of the most elaborate worlds ever committed to paper. There are so many other characters and actors to pair up – Mickey Rourke as disgraced gunslinger Jonas, the next Hayley Joel Osment as Roland’s doomed surrogate son Jake, and of course the voice of badger-raccoon hybrid Oy (I say George Clooney based on his South Park performance,) but to fill them all would take almost as much space and time as the series itself does.
Feel free to have your two gold pieces’ worth in the comments section or any of the others. Also feel free to petition Warner Bros. to make this movie a reality. Please…for me….?