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SYFY WIRE The Dark Tower

Amazon's The Dark Tower finds its new Gunslinger, with Idris Elba apparently out

By Matthew Jackson
Sam Strike

Amazon's new adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower is moving forward, and there's a new gunslinger in town. Variety reports that English actor Sam Strike (pictured above), seen recently in SYFY's Nightflyers, has been cast in Amazon's pilot production for the franchise in the lead role of Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger on a quest to find the titular tower. Jasper Paakkonen (pictured below), best known for his role in Vikings, has also been cast as Roland's nemesis The Man in Black. 

The move marks major progress on a new direction for what could be a major genre franchise. In 2017, a film adaptation of The Dark Tower finally made it to the screen after years of development hell, starring Idris Elba as Roland and Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black. The film was a box office and critical failure, despite praise for Elba as the gunslinger.

Jasper Paakkonen

Now, Amazon is moving forward on its own version of the story, apparently without Elba's involvement. The Amazon series was initially intended to be a tie-in to the films, with King's entire multi-volume saga playing out on both big and small screens, but in the wake of the film's failure, Amazon rethought the tie-in idea. Now the series, under the guidance of showrunner Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead), will simply seek to be a new, more direct adaptation of King's story, while the film functioned as a kind of sequel/retelling. 

The Dark Tower saga began with a slim volume subtitled The Gunslinger in 1982, and over the ensuing decades grew into King's magnum opus, with a multiverse that swelled to include various other works in his ouvre, including IT, 'Salem's Lot, and Hearts In Atlantis. The series' main story follows Roland, the last of a line of great warrior knights known as gunslinger, as he journeys toward the Tower, which serves as a kind of nexus for all reality. If Roland succeeds in saving the Tower, existence will continue. If he fails and the dark forces which oppose him succeed in bringing the tower down, all will be enveloped in darkness. Along the way, he is joined by several key allies, including a boy named Jake, a recovering heroin addict named Eddie, and a legless woman named Susannah, all of whom have become beloved King characters. 

King concluded the main Dark Tower story with the seventh volume, subtitled The Dark Tower, in 2004, but later published a kind of sidequel novel, The Wind Through the Keyhole, in 2012. Much of the story has also been adapted into a series of Marvel Comics, and King also expanded on the mythos with a short story following a younger Roland, titled "The Little Sisters of Eluria," which can be found in his 2002 collection Everything's Eventual. Put simply: The Dark Tower mythos is vast, and if Amazon is already investing big money in Lord of the Rings series that will expand on Tolkien's world, it can also make space for King's multiverse.