Ron Howard has admitted that he’s thinking about casting Viggo Mortensen as Roland Deschain, the stoic gunslinger hero of Stephen King’s masterwork, The Dark Tower, in his upcoming three-part movie adaptation.
The Dark Tower, in case you aren’t aware, is King’s sprawling fantasy epic that spanned virtually his entire career (to date); a seven-volume behemoth (with an eighth apparently on the way) involving parallel worlds, meta-textual references (King himself appears as a character in the sixth book, while it’s linked in with pretty much everything he’s written), evil supercomputers, Spaghetti Western tropes, unstoppable bad guys, and the unattainable target at the end of a long and arduous quest: the titular tower. It is complex, it is bold, it is utterly, utterly brilliant.
Ron Howard, in case you aren’t aware, is the Oscar-winning director of A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, and Backdraft. His only entry in the fantasy genre to date is Willow, which perfectly qualifies him to handle The Dark Tower. Particularly as it’ll be written by Akiva Goldsman, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of A Beautiful Mind, who also wrote Batman & Robin and Lost In Space. Which perfectly qualifies him to handle The Dark Tower.
Viggo Mortensen, in case you aren’t aware, is an actor who was in The Lord of the Rings, and has therefore become the number one fanboy choice to play Roland, a dark and complex character whose drive to reach The Dark Tower, even if it costs him everything, propels the story. Actually, this may be one occasion on which the fanboys have it mostly right. Mortensen’s penchant for coldness and impassivity – not to mention the fact he would look darn cool in Roland’s cowboy duds – seems to fit the character perfectly, although we also have a soft spot for two of the other guys Howard seems to be considering, Hugh Jackman and Jon Hamm. After all, Mortensen is now 52 and might just be too old to twirl Roland’s guns. Might. Just.
OK, you might be sensing slight cynicism about this, but we should be happy that The Dark Tower – a project long thought unfilmable – does actually seem to be wending its merry way toward the big screen, although it has yet to receive the green light from Universal.
But we admire the scope of the plans for the adaptation, which also include bridging TV series between films (with Howard directing the first season); an admirable way of tackling the sheer volume of material and imagination in King’s books (and ongoing comic book). And there’s no doubt that Howard will be a safe pair of hands who will deliver a well-cast, well-planned, well-crafted trilogy of movies, even if the chances of an out-and-out masterpiece might be slim. And, in an interview with the LA Times, Howard certainly talks the talk. "We worked on it for a year before we even met with him [King],” he told Geoff Boucher. “It was all about putting something together that was good enough and getting such an understanding of the material that Stephen King would say, 'Yes, that's the way into this story."
Head over to the LA Times’ Hero Complex for more from Howard on the project, including a statement from King himself.