The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed . . . along with Entertainment Weekly, whose writer Anthony Breznican snagged exclusive details and photos from the adaptation of Stephen King’s magnum opus The Dark Tower, currently filming. Today began the cascade of information, with the magazine covers debuting this morning and more to come. First up is an interview with the man in black himself Matthew McConaughey, living up to his name in the above photo.
As the opening line of the series/this article states, Idris Elba’s gunslinger (akin to a medieval knight) Roland chases the Man in Black, who is responsible for the destruction of Mid-World, as the latter searches for the Dark Tower, the mythical center of all possible realities, control of which would give him ultimate power. The above pic shows the man in black entering the Dixie Pig, a New York City hideout for the various monsters, magicians and mythic creatures (book readers will recognize the Taheen) run by Richard Sayre (Jackie Earle Haley). He’s on the search for a special boy, Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor). Notice the Crimson King’s signature eye symbol at the top.
The Crimson King is the Bigger Bad to the man in black, the Emperor to his Darth Vader. It is the man in black’s job to destroy the Tower’s “Beams” that hold up all realitiesby recruiting psychics, all so the Crimson King may turn the multiverse into his Hellish playground. You may be familiar with the name of the psychic powers used to break the Beams – “shining.”
Walter (yep, that’s his real name) hasn’t been making much progress but, it turns out, Jake is the best Shiner of them all and it inspires the man in black to head to New York to kidnap him. See, he’s gotten a bit, shall we say, stagnant just chilling in the alternate dimension of Devar-toi, which McConaughey describes as “Breaker Central”
“I’m at home base doing the daily ritual of choosing the children and running the break and we’ve been doing this for some time now, but we haven’t been able to bring down this Tower. We’ve shook the dust off it quite a bit, thrown a few boulders but haven’t found the right all-star with the shine to actually bring it down. So we go through the daily ritual of chopping down this proverbial tree.”
Upon discovering Jake, the man in black thinks he’s found the golden ticket, except this one destroys Wonka’s factory, according to McConaughey.
“This is great news! One, this is what I need to get the job done. Two, it’s a field trip for me. I haven’t been down there in a long time. The Devil likes New York. Let’s go sing and dance and do some detective work and find the boy with The Shine and bring him back and use him!”
Dressed to impress with his typical dirty blond hair dyed jet black, McConaughey, like most actors, doesn’t play the character as evil but he certainly takes his inspiration from an evil place.
“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. You know, he’s not literally the Devil, but I sure as hell think about him like the Devil. I think like the Devil would.”
McConaughey had been courted to play the villain Randall Flagg in another King adaptation, The Stand when The Dark Tower came calling. Ironically, in King’s expansive multiverse containing all his written works, Flagg and Walter are the same character, a transdimensional sorcerer responsible for countless deaths and suffering. His true name in the books Walter O’Dim but here he’s just Walter. Unfortunately, rights to Flagg and The Stand are owned by a separate studio so he will neither have that alias nor refer to his various antics in other King books.
McConaughey describes the classic good-and-evil dynamic between Roland and Walter as akin to Batman and the Joker – the former can’t stop chasing the latter and the latter can’t stop having fun with the former. (“You complete me!”)
“I revere him, 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. So many times I’m just pumping him up, through sorcery, almost like the man in the corner of the ring for a boxer. [whispers] Come on … you can do this … stay in the game,’ because 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. [But] Once I bring the Tower down, and take a seat next to the Crimson King, I’ve got my own plans from there as well.”
The Dark Tower is scheduled for release February 17, 2017. Until then, imagine McConaughey in a Lincoln commercial murmuring these lyrics (they define the man in black, according to him):
“Follow me now / and you will not regret / leaving the life you led / before we met.”