Mind you, I think that a film or miniseries version of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series wouldn’t be nearly as good as the books, which are my favorites of King’s work (an author whose work I enjoy, for the most part, and who I deeply respect). However, if some ambitious filmmaker made an effort analogous to Peter Jackson’s on Lord of the Rings, this subject might be worth discussing.
I’ve been re-reading the whole series, and I’ve slowly been developing stronger visual pictures of the characters in my mind. While nobody fits those pictures perfectly, here’s the ones I think are closest.
The Gunslinger (here meaning the older Roland, who we first meet in the Western Desert): This is probably the hardest one for me, as the Gunslinger is, in a way, more of an icon than a real character. This isn’t to say that he lacks depth… far from it. However, he is portrayed as such a monolithic, distant character that it would be almost impossible for any person to make him real and stay faithful to the way the books portray him. However, one actor that keeps surfacing in this way for me is Michael Madsen. In every role I’ve seen him in, Madsen has a gruff, distant exterior, but which hints at something more within. He could be the rock which anchors the rest of the cast.
Roland (here meaning the younger version of Roland, in his trial with Cort, for example, or in the history told in Wizard and Glass): This one’s tough, too, but not as bad. I might catch some flack for this, but I think Hayden Christensen could pull this off. I pretty much ignore his performance in Attack of the Clones, but Life as a House shows he has some acting chops. He’s got the right mix of sensitivity and mystery to play the Roland that develops into the Gunslinger.
Odetta/Detta/Susannah: This is an easy one for me. Hands-down, Angela Bassett should fill this role. She’s beautiful, but has a hard edge to her. She definitely has the talent to play the extremes of Detta and Odetta well, and mix them up in Susannah.
Eddie: Could be anyone, really, but if I had to pick a name actor I think it should be Edward Norton. He’s a talented actor, he has the range and depth for a character like Eddie, and he’d have some fun with it.
Jake: One is almost tempted to say Jake Lloyd, but that’s too obvious. I’d prefer to see Haley Joel Osment in the part, but it would have to be before he got much older. That kid can act. As an alternate, Rory Culkin (who was the asthmatic boy in Signs) could probably do well here also.
Walter/Marten/Man in Black: Another easy one. I can easily see Gary Oldman in this role, with his strength in playing manic psychos. I love Oldman, mind you, and I always like watching him act. However, he does seem to have a certain affinity for strange, at least slightly off characters.
Tick-Tock Man: My picture of this one isn’t as clear yet, but maybe William Hurt. I like the fact that he often plays “nice” guys, but ones who have an undercurrent of darkness to them. This role could flip that on its head.
Cort: The only one who comes to mind here is David Bradley, who plays Mr. Filch in the Harry Potter movies. I can’t think of anyone better, really.
Cuthbert: Young, confident, and kind of a wise-ass? Ewan McGregor leaps right to mind.
Alain: The more thoughtful of the young Gunslingers, I’m thinking Ethan Hawke, mostly as we saw him in Training Day.
Susan: This is mostly personal preference speaking, probably, but Kate Winslet comes quickly to mind when I think of Roland’s lost love. Yeah, she makes me drool, and your point is?
OK, that’s all I have for now… anyone else want to play? Feel free to amend my selections, or add characters I neglected to mention.