We're finding out a whole lot about the film adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower this week.
Thanks to EW's cover story on the currently shooting film (in the magazine's Comic-Con preview issue), we've already heard from Idris Elba about his thoughts on playing Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger of Mid-World who is on a quest to save the Dark Tower at the center of all existence.
And now we've also heard from Matthew McConaughey, who is playing Roland's nemesis, the Man in Black, aka Walter o'Dim, aka Randall Flagg, an emissary of evil who plans to destroy the Tower in the name of the "insane, god-like entity" known as the Crimson King.
Speaking with EW between takes atop an abandoned shopping center in Cape Town, South Africa, McConaughey gave his appraisal of his malevolent character:
“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."
McConaughey goes on to say that Walter is "not literally the Devil ... but I sure as hell think about him like the Devil," adding that the Man in Black also has a sneaking admiration for his pursuer, 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.”
The Oscar-winning actor continued to discuss Walter's almost parasitic relationship to Roland:
“So many times I’m just pumping him up, through sorcery, almost like the man in the corner of the ring for a boxer...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."
Sounds creepy, doesn't it? What Walter really needs, however, is the boy known as Jake (Tom Taylor), whose psychic power known as "the shine" is the ingredient that the Man in Black must obtain in order to destroy the "trans-dimensional" beams that hold the Tower up.
As fans of King's eight-book cycle can see, those plot points are more or less the bare essence of the entire Dark Tower narrative. But as speculated for some time now, there is a difference. Beware of spoilers after this lovely EW photo of McConaughey inside the Dixie Pig, a bar where all sorts of demons and creatures loyal to the Crimson King lurk (notice his sigil -- a glaring eye -- on the sign above McConaughey's head):
Show Spoiler This movie, The Dark Tower, will actually be a kind of sequel to King's books. Where the books ended with Roland entering the Tower and being thrown back to the very beginning of his quest -- a kind of endless existential loop that may have been going on for untold lengths of time -- the movie will start essentially right after he has been catapulted back to the starting line. The only difference is that he will have with him the Horn of Eld, the one artifact that could change the course of events. This means that Roland's journey in the movies could be the same...yet could also be different, which gives director Nikolaj Arcel the chance to make the kind of alterations necessary to create a cinematic experience while keeping the spirit of the books intact.
Can it work? Here's what King himself said:
“I’m 100 percent behind it -- which doesn’t mean it necessarily will work, just that it’s a good way to try and to get into these stories.”
What do you think? Is making this movie a "sequel" the way into the story? And what are your thoughts on McConaughey's interpretation of the Man in Black?
The Dark Tower opens Feb. 17, 2017.