idris elba dark tower

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect actor for the role of Roland Deschain than Idris Elba, a man who contains all of the swagger and weariness you’d want from a knight-cowboy wandering a fantastical post-apocalypse in pursuit of the warlock who destroyed his world and plans to end existence as we know it. Stephen King‘s Dark Tower series has its ups and downs, but its the kind of imaginative blend of genres that demands a big screen adaptation and Roland the Gunslinger is the kind of larger-than-life character who deserves an actor of Elba’s caliber.

Elba’s casting has proven controversial in certain corners of the internet (spoiler alert: it’s because he’s a black man), but a new interview from the set of director Nikolaj Arcel‘s The Dark Tower is all of the evidence you need that he’s the man for job. But surely you already knew that.

All of these new quotes and details come to us courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, who are promising a deluge of Dark Tower-related stories. So stay tuned. There’s more on the way.

But right now, let’s pick through a few choice quotes that were gathered on the film’s Cape Town, South Africa set, shall we? Let’s start with Elba discussing Roland himself. He’s not shy about the weirdness of this character or this world. We already know that the new film will effectively remix the novels to tell a story that goes off the beaten path, but this should all sound right to readers of King’s magnum opus:

There’s a mystical element to him. He’s about 200 years old. He’s been around for a long time, and has a deep-rooted connection with the [supernatural] nature of the film. Roland’s completely tuned into that. When you meet him, he’s very much a stoic man, doesn’t want to talk. But when you get to know him, he really knows quite a bit about the world and his world’s history.

The full article delves into far greater detail about what was witnessed on set and The Dark Tower certainly sounds like it’ll contain all of the horror-tinged fantasy that makes the books such a compelling read. For starters, how about a major scene set in a way station between worlds, where demonic “Taheen” can select human disguises before entering our world to, uh, hunt. For a full description of this scene, I highly recommend checking out the entire story.

While much of the conversation with Elba does touch on Roland and the wild landscape he inhabits, the real world does creep in here and there. When Elba discusses how excited he was to get the job, he explains that landing a role like this goes beyond race and his job is to honor the character:

A white guy in a sense, but, also just that you could make a version of this film that appealed to a slightly more action-hero type character and I don’t do those films. I haven’t done many actions films. I like to bring a little depth and bring a real character. And what’s been fun is, Nik’s really up for that. So we do takes that are a little bit more commercial, if you like, and we do takes that are f—ing deep, like we’re making an independent film. It’s an iconic character. I want to get it right.

He also addresses those who feel like Roland (who is described as pale and blue-eyed in the books) has to be a white man:

It’s better just to treat it like no big deal. There should be no difference. The character that was written in Stephen’s imagination, it could be any color. It just happens to be me and, you know? In the artwork, it just so happens to be a white guy, but I don’t think that makes any difference. … I think what’s great about it, if I want to say anything about it, is that it is a sign of the times in terms of a colorless society. People go, ‘A good actor is a good actor,’ you know?

Look, if you don’t want to see Elba fighting monsters with a six-shooter while he jumps through dimensions to stop an evil Matthew McConaughey from destroying the universe, you have truly forgotten the face of your rather (to borrow a phrase from King’s work). The rest of us will go see The Dark Tower when it opens on February 17, 2017.

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