The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.
That’s the iconic opening line of The Gunslinger, Stephen King’s first entry into his Dark Tower series. It has inspired readers for decades, and now it’s inspired King’s tweet that, this morning, finally confirmed that Idris Elba will be playing the Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, and Matthew McConaughey has been cast, most likely, as the Man in Black.
Rumors surfaced in December of 2015 of Elba’s possible casting, and, as one would expect when casting the lead role of any filmic adaptation of a major geek touchstone, it was controversial. Mostly because Elba is not white, and Deschain, in the books, is.
There was more controversy still when one of the producers of the film, Akiva Goldsman, spoke to IGN. Goldsman had this to say about people who don’t like the idea of Elba because of the color of his skin:
I understand that people who are thoughtful about the storytelling and the racial politics of the storytelling might want to understand how that informs that storytelling, and I respect that and I hear that, and those things are not things we didn’t think about or don’t think about. The racist a–holes should go f–k themselves.
To be fair, many of the critics of Elba’s casting were concerned with the way it would impact Deschain’s complicated relationship with another character in the book, Susannah Dean. But Goldsman’s comments seem to hint that he’s perfectly aware of that.
At any rate, Stephen King was always down with the idea:
The first film in the series, should everything continue going to plan, will be directed by Nikolaj Arcel, and is scheduled for a January 2017 release date. As a huge fan of this book series, I’m still taking all of this with a grain of salt, as the Dark Tower adaptation has started and stalled several times before.
UPDATE: For more information, as well as the possibly scary fact that the film will take place in the “modern world,” head over to Entertainment Weekly.