Stephen King’s Wind Through the Keyhole was released on April 24th, and while that glorious day gave us King fans a chance to once more immerse ourselves in the stories of Roland and his ka-tet, the offering of a new book has resparked the ever present question: when will we see a Dark Tower movie? And the better question is, if we see a film adaptation, who will play Roland Deschain?
Many might remember the rumor frenzy last year that said that Ron Howard and Universal Studios were coming together to bring the epic films to the silver screen. There was even talk of an attached TV series. Yet sadly, the new year came with no new rumors aside from word that Universal had walked away from the table. In March, the frenzy began again as there’s a chance Warner Bros. might be interested, so we can say thankee-sai for that. But if the film becomes a reality, just who would play our entrepid gunslinger Roland? Roland might remind us all of Clint Eastwood in his heyday, but outside of that screen titan, could any other Hollywood stars pull it off? Tons of names have been thrown around from Hugh Jackman to Christian Bale, Gerard Butler to Daniel Craig. And while Wolverine, Batman, Leonidas and Bond are all powerful actors, here are some other names to consider for the imaginary casting couch. Some you might know from Hollywood’s A-list and some might be new to you. You decide: do they have the Roland chops?
The ‘Official’ Choice: Javier Bardem
This international star is no stranger to the Dark Tower rumor mill. When the film was a sure fire go, articles across the internet trumpeted him as the pick for our hero Roland. And why not? The No Country For Old Men star has a sexy intensity in multiple languages that cannot be denied. Yet where I’ve seen Bardem do a great dead-eye in No Country and sexy man of the world in Eat Pray Love, I wonder if he can pull off the questing soul of Roland.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Enter the actor everyone seems to mistake for Javier Bardem all the time, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The Watchman actor first caught my eye playing Sam and Dean Winchester’s dad on Supernatural and quickly graduated to a big screen powerhouse. Slated to appear in the upcoming remake of the 80s invasion flick Red Dawn, Morgan has a gruff intensity that belongs in the gunslinger Roland’s attitude and yet can handle deeper emotional scenes, like those expected between Roland and his kid associate Jake.
How could this guy not make the list? Take the Stetson-wearing look Viggo rocked in Hidalgo and import some of the noble fire of Aragorn, plus maybe just a touch of that unearthliness he had as the Devil in The Prophecy (yup, that was him!) and bam, that’s a terrifying Roland. We’ve already seen Viggo stride across Middle-Earth and a destroyed America in The Road — he’d shake the dust crossing the desert on his way after the Man in Black.
A personal favorite of mine, Michael Fassbender has spent the last few years in Hollywood proving that he can pretty much make gold out of anything he puts his hands on. From a wild-eyed Spartan in 300 to the brooding and sexy Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, Michael Fassbender has proven he can put his hands on an established character and make it his own. For reference, just look at what he did with Magneto in X-Men: First Class. With his upcoming credits including the hotly anticipated Prometheus, adding Fassbender as Roland might just be a license for the films to print money while counting on a definitive and invidual performance from a versatile up-and-comer.
For an outside the box idea, let’s consider Timothy Olyphant for a second. A powerfully talented actor, Olyphant has already proven his wild west swagger as both Seth Bullock in HBO’s Deadwood and Raylan Givens on Justified. Sure, his movie credits have been all over the place — the bad guy in Live Free or Die Hard and the title character in Hitman are just two examples — but Olyphant has a strength to his performances that is almost palpable. I could believe him as an intense lawman in a lawless land because, heck, he’s played it before!
An often overlooked Hollywood gem, Thomas Jane is another who could bring that powderkeg spark to a Roland performance. Jane is no stranger to working with Stephen King material, as he starred in the 2007 adaptation of King’s short story The Mist and in the 2003 adaptation of Dreamcatcher. He also proved that he can provide fierce brooding power while playing The Punisher. Just slap him on some gun belts and he could be that balance of square-jawed hero and harsh-eyed gunslinger we’re looking for.
For a slightly younger and less known choice, there is Lucas Bryant of Syfy’s Haven fame. With more television than film under his belt, Bryant plays the stone-faced Nathan Wuornos on Haven, a small town sheriff with strange and unusual issues in his home town. Though he might not be as well known as some of the A-listers previously mentioned, Bryant could just be the unknown that stands out in such a pivotal roll.
So, what do you think? Good choices? If not, how about some of your own? Let’s hear them, Dark Tower fans, sound off if it please ya, and let’s think just who would we want as our very favorite gunslinger.
Shoshana Kessock is a comics fan, photographer, game developer, LARPer and all around geek girl. She’s the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and ReImaginedReality.com