The Dark Tower

Okay.  Here it is.  Whew.  But first, you must be warned.  If you have not read ALL FOUR BOOKS, then you are in for some MAJOR SPOILERS.  The cast list alone will mess with you, capish?  You've been warned.  And if you're looking for any of the books, check below to head to Amazon and buy them.  You'll be glad you did.  Incidentally, though I normally go for the cheapest Amazon selection, I picked the ones with the cool artwork and not the cheapcheap paperbacks.  You've gotta have the art. need to thank me.

Collect all four at your local fast food joint!
Book One: The Gunslinger, Book Two: The Drawing of the Three, Book Three: The Waste Lands; Book Four: Wizard and Glass


Director Clint Eastwood
Producer George Lucas
Screenwriter Frank Darabont
Musical Score Ennio Morricone


The Ka-Tet:

Roland Deschain of Gilead, Son of Steven Robert John Burke
John "Jake" Chambers Haley Joel Osment
Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker/Susannah Dean Angela Bassett
Eddie Dean Peter Berg
Oy Henson Creature Shop

Tull and the Desert:

Walter, the Man in Black Steve Buscemi
Brown, the hut-dweller Eric Stoltz
Sheb McCurdy, the piano player Harry Dean Stanton
Alice "Allie", the bar keep Marg Helgenberger
Nort, the weed eater Dick Miller
Sylvia Pittston, the preacher Kathy Bates

Our World:

Jack Mort, the pusher Willem Dafoe
Henry Dean, Eddie's brother Tim Roth
Elmer Chambers, Jake's father Burt Reynolds
Mrs. Chambers, Jake's mother Christine Dunford
Greta Shaw, the Chambers' housekeeper Joan Plowright
Enrico Balazar, the drug lord Dennis Farina
Jack Andolini, Balazar's thug Brian Thompson
Calvin Tower, the bookstore owner Danny Aiello
"Fat Johnny" Holden, the gunstore clerk Philip Seymour Hoffman

The Barony of Gilead:

Flagg/Richard Fannin/Marten Broadcloak Jamey Sheridan
Young Roland Brad Renfro
Steven Deschain, Roland's father Scott Glenn
Gabrielle Deschain, Roland's mother Catherine McCormack
Cort, teacher of gunslingers Robert Duvall
Cuthbert Allgood Kieran Culkin
Alain Johns Lucas Black
Hax, the cook Michael Duncan
Jamie Decurry Sam Huntington

The City of Lud:

Blaine the Mono Tim Curry (voice)
The Tick-Tock Man Ralph Moeller
Gasher Billy Bob Thornton

The Big Coffin Hunters:

Eldred Jonas Sam Elliott
Clay Reynolds Bruce Dern
Roy Depape Jeff Fahey


Susan Delgado Natalie Portman
Cordelia Delgado, Susan's aunt Joan Allen
Rhea of the Coos Lin Shaye
Mayor Thorin Malcolm McDowell
Chancellor Kimba Rimer Christopher Lee
Sheriff Avery John Goodman
Sheemie Lukas Haas

This DreamCast brought to you by the letter Q and the number 23,
with CCB, Cardinal Fitts, Ez, HTQ4 and Widge as the ringmasters.

Why The Dark Tower? Well, in the first place, it's an extremely cool series of books with one of King's coolest characters ever, Roland of Gilead.  He is Clint Eastwood on steroids, the ultimate cool customer.  Do you get an inkling of how high on the coolometer this thing goes?  Good.  Completely different from anything else King's ever written, Steve's promised us that it will be finished soon.  Granted, we've heard that for years, but we can still hope, right?  I've already warned him that if he doesn't finish the series himself, someday, a hundred years from now, one of his distant relatives will get the rights and have someone finish it for him, a la Scarlett or As Time Goes By.  Yeek.

And in the second place, it will never, ever happen.  Which sucks, but it's understandable.  King won't sell the film rights because he knows Hollywood like the Widgemaster does, and knows that the studios would completely screw it up.  And besides, it's much cooler when produced by Inner Eye Cinema, right?  Hopefully, he'll at least let someone do a radio play of it or something, just so we can get a taste of it.  Otherwise, I highly recommend snagging a copy of the King reading the first three books unabridged on audiocassette.  His delivery and vocal characterizations just get better as the series progresses.  Frank Muller reads the unabridged fourth book, which is disappointing because I was looking forward to hearing King again.  Not to take anything away from Muller, who's a great reader.  Anyway, there you have it.  Look well, mortals, for this is probably as close as you will ever get to a set of Dark Tower feature films.

What's the scoop?  Geez, lemme try to give you the rundown as best I can.  Roland is the last gunslinger in a world which has moved on (read: which is completely screwed and on an express elevator to hell--going down).  He's pledged himself to find The Dark Tower and make right what is causing the slow, agonizing death of his world, and maybe others as well.

 That's not even the dime version, that's the ha-penny version.  Read it for yourself, I don't want to spoil anything more than I already have.  But you were warned.  I see this as being a series of four films, one for each book, in order to keep pacing sane.  You'd have some unique problems as well, such as having to shoot all of Jake's parts pretty much altogether, lest he age quite a bit.  Same thing with the flashback sequences which occur primarily in books one and four, but with some strung out in the other two, I think.  So how you would schedule the filming would be a nightmare, but hey, we're just here to cast.  Screw the legistics.  Oh, and we want Digital Domain and ILM to handle the FX, and believe me they'll be plenty to go around for everybody.

Directed by Clint EastwoodThis was the hardest decision to make right here.  Just to give you a taste of the names we kicked around, there was Fincher, Spielberg, Singer, Kershner, Howard, Gilliam, Darabont, Kasdan, Cameron, Reiner, etc. etc.  A lot of people freaked when we initially ran our decision past them.  The primary concern was that he couldn't pull it off, partly due to his track record with literary adaptations.  Absolute Power and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil spring to mind, and one's mediocre while the other's downright unwatchable.  However--we went back and looked, and every western that Clint's directed has been downright asskicking.  And when you get to the core, that's what the series is, isn't it?  Lone gunslinger on a trek through the waste lands to kick some ass, take some names and save the day.  And hey, who did King have in mind when he was writing Roland?  That's right: Eastwood.  And so Clint may not have a lot of experience in the fantasy aspects department.  That's okay.  We've taken that into consideration.

Produced by George Lucas:  You want fantasy?  This guy defined the fantasy/science fiction movie genre for one generation, now he's about to do it for another.  He's had a hand in three of the top 10 highest grossing films of all time (in unaltered dollar values) and in a few years that number will probably jump up a think?  Anyway, we all know money means nothing when it comes to quality entertainment, but at least in George's case he can do both: make the wallet happy and make us happy.  That and he loves westerns.

 Adapted by Frank Darabont:  Okay.  There's been some people who could kick ass directing King.  Like Rob Reiner.  And then there's been a bunch of people who appeared to kick ass adapting King for the screen.  There's been some...ahem...misfires, but there've been a few gems.  Misery, for example.  Stand By Me as well (which actually improved upon the original story IMO).  But the one that most King fans swear by is Shawshank Redemption.  And who's the man behind it?  Frank, that's who.  He's also attached to The Green Mile starring Mr. Oscar himself, Tom Hanks, and The Mist, which needs to be made so badly I can't stand it.  King and Darabont are also on a good basis with one another, so if there was anybody King would trust with adapting his baby for the big screen, it might be Mr. D.  So there you have it.

Musical Score by Ennio Morricone:  If those of you who checked this page out when it was just a list of people have returned, you may be thinking to yourself, "Self, what happened to Simon Boswell?"  And that's a good question indeed.  I had originally picked Simon Boswell on the basis of his work on the aforementioned film, Hardware.  (If you can find a copy of that soundtrack, please do so.  Not many soundtracks can boast having Public Image, Ltd., Ministry, and Luciano Pavorotti as contributors)  But I knew the subject of Mr. Morricone would come up and I wanted to be able to defend my decision.  After I started looking over Morricone's resume, I realized I wouldn't be able to.  So I went with CCB's suggestion and gave him the job.  My apologies to Mr. Boswell, who's still kickass in his own rights, and I know he was packing his bags to get ready to come work on the project, but we'll get him on another film soon enough.  From what I can tell, though Morricone has not worked with Eastwood as a director, they've worked together on six films, so they'll get along well.  If it's a natural fit, don't fight it, I always say.

Robert John Burke as Roland of Gilead:  Back when we first started with this DreamCasting business, our buddy Ez came forward and said: "I found Roland."  Where did he find him?  In a wholly unremarkable film called Dust Devil.  So in putting this together I went and tracked it down and rented it.  And he's right.  If you put Burke, looking exactly like he does in that film, into this film--you've got Roland.  Now, some people have suggested Eastwood or Scott Glenn, but as you've seen we've got places for them.  If you want to go see for yourself, rent Dust Devil, but only watch the first five minutes.  Trust me on this one.  It was directed by Richard Stanley, and if you want to see a good film of his, check out Hardware.  Much better, I assure you.

Haley Joel Osment as Jake Chambers:  Here's the deal with Jake: he's a kid who has died...but not really.  He got better, so to speak.  Remember the sequence where Jake is going nuts during Book Three?  You need a kid who can pull that off (along with everything else Jake goes through...this is one tough cookie).  We figure when you get somebody that age, your best bet is Osment.  We originally had Jake Lloyd in this role, but even though it wasn't his fault Lucas put the word "Yippee!" in his mouth about twelve times, we weren't too impressed with his turn in Phantom Menace. Therefore, we're going a little older and snagging Osment, an actor who impresses the hell out of us. [Thanks to Keith Barnes for the word.]

Angela Bassett as Susannah Dean:  Here's what we kept in mind for this role (there's no easy parts in this film, are there?): she's three people: Detta, Odetta and then Susannah.  So you need somebody who can play from crazy insane (insane? crazy?) to downright tough as nails.  Bassett is an actress of amazing range and power (and she can kick ass like nobody's business--see Strange Days if you don't believe me--how bout those arm muscles?  Damn!)  There was never any question that Bassett was our Susannah.  Use the same FX they did for Gary Sinise in Forrest Gump, and let's do it.

Peter Berg as Eddie Dean:  Here we needed somebody to be the smartass gunslinger, to be able to crack really bad jokes (and riddles) but still be able to kick ass when the time came.  I had Berg in mind for this from the get go, since from his past experience he's shown he can do the range, from losing it when Henry's gone to being able to tell a bunch of feds to go screw themselves.  He's your man.

Steve Buscemi as The Man in Black:  Here's another choice that drew some strange looks from our compatriots.  "Buscemi?" they asked.  "The funny-looking guy from Fargo?  No way."  Well, actually I got the idea for Steve from Steve King himself.  If you've listened to the audiobook of Book One, King reads Walter as if he were...well, that kind of guy who was the kind of kid in middle school you just wanted to beat the snot out of.  As for Walter, it seemed that if he weren't so immensely powerful, he'd be a blithering idiot.  That's what I got out of King's vocal adaptation of the character.  And it makes sense: imagine chasing someone across "the apotheosis of all deserts" only to discover that he's...well, Walter.  What a letdown, eh?

Eric Stoltz as Brown:   The hut-dweller with red hair who owned Zoltan is a natural for Stoltz, who we've already seen pretty messed up in Pulp Fiction.  Living out in the desert like Brown does messes you up.  It was an easy call.

Harry Dean Stanton as Sheb:  The heartbroken and slightly pathetic piano player, who appears in Books One and Four would be a great place for Stanton to shine.  He's a great character actor and we like to see him anywhere.  This was easy to cast.

Marg Helgenberger as Allie:  I originally had in mind Ellen Barkin for this role, but my coconspirator on this, CCB, assured me that Helgenberger was perfect for the part.  Using her roles on China Beach and Species, he put up a good argument, so what could I do?  He's bigger than me, anyways.

Dick Miller as Nort:  What movie's complete without Dick Miller?  No, seriously.  We felt wrong about having a movie this size and not including our favorite horror movie character actor.  I originally wanted Stanton for this role, but we know Miller looks wicked as a guy come back from the dead, so go with what you know, right?

Kathy Bates as Sylvia Pittston: Kathy Bates is an incredible actress, and she appears to have an affinity for King's films, having won an Oscar for Misery, and having been in Dolores Claiborne and an uncredited cameo in The Stand.  With her performance as Annie, we can only imagine how she would get evangelical on Roland's ass.  (Sorry Sam)

Willem Dafoe as Jack Mort:   This was a pretty easy call to make, actually.  What it hinged upon was the scene where Jake dies in the street.  From the moment we started work on this DreamCast, I could hear Dafoe saying that line, "Let me through, I'm a priest."  Gives me the willies, I tell ya.

Tim Roth as Henry Dean:  The great sage and eminent junkie himself.  This amounts to a cameo, seen only in flashbacks really, but it's one that Roth could handle, having excelled in many roles before, including but certainly not limited to a junkie.

Burt Reynolds as Elmer Chambers:  We've been wanting to cast Burt for quite some time.  It's good to see he's finally getting some attention back, cause he's been an SDI fave for some time now.  Elmer's father is neglectful, nigh violent and times and really, really high strung.  I thought from jump that Burt would make a great aging TV exec with an ax to grind.  I can just hear him referring to Jake as "The Kid".

Christine Dunford as Mrs. Chambers:  Poor Mrs. C.  Put upon, kid going crazy, husband getting coked up in his spare time.  CCB is of the opinion that Dunford (lately of Ulee's Gold fame) is perfect to play a role that involves Valium.  And lots of it.

Joan Plowright as Greta Shaw:  With Jake's sanity on its way out of comission, with Mrs. Chambers really really calm and Elmer on the warpath, it's obvious to see that Greta's the only sane one of the bunch.  And God love her, she just works in that house.  Plowright is an incredible actress who would do well at playing someone who cares because she's there and because the money's right.

Dennis Farina as Enrico Balazar:  Well, what can I say?  The guy is tough and he came to mind immediately for both CCB and myself.  He's the guy you don't want to mess with and you definitely don't want to have to explain to him that his shipment has been shunted into another dimension...

Brian Thompson as Jack Andolini:  We knew that for this role we wanted a large, hulking thug.  Thompson's played an alien assassin on The X-Files, so we knew he'd be perfect to work for Mr. Farina.  And he'll make great lobstrosity chow.

Danny Aiello as Calvin Tower:  Hey, so it's a cameo.  But it's still a good cameo. Who else could play the caring bookstore owner who helps out Hyperborean Jake on his way?  Aiello's a guy who just looks like the cool uncle you always liked.  Granted, your uncle could get mean when he was pissed off, but hey, just don't trek mud through his den next time.  Aiello's a shoo-in.

Philip Seymour Hoffman as "Fat Johnny" Holden:  If there's anybody who can do pathetic really well, it's Hoffman.  He's hasn't exactly made a career out of such roles and he's exhibited a bit of a kooky range, but he's shown us in Boogie Nights and Happiness that he's certainly quite good at it.  Perfect for Roland to make a complete fool of.

Jamey Sheridan as Flagg:  Hey, we at SDI really like it when people who have had roles in the past stick with those roles.  We don't fear typecasting and neither should others.  We were worried when we heard Sheridan had gotten the role of the Walkin' Dude in the TV movie of The Stand.  We weren't familiar with his work, and Flagg is King's ubervillain across several books.  However, Sheridan quickly put our fears to rest.  Hearing him deliver the classic line, "Pleased to meet ya, Lloyd.  Hope ya guess my name!" was enough to endear him to me as the lord of all evil.  So he remains.

Brad Renfro as Young Roland:  Let me take this moment to explain how we chose the young gunslingers, the young version of Roland included.  First of all, it's difficult to get really kick ass young actors to fit the roles.  We kicked our own butts for a while on these.  But there was one scene in the fourth book that I used as a marker--if I could see the actor in question play the part in that scene, then they were in.  That scene happens to be my absolute favorite in the entire book.  It's the one where the young gunslingers face off with the Coffin Hunters in the bar, after Cuthbert saves Sheemie from Roy.  The line that I needed to hear someone say believably: "Do it now, or this goes in your heart.  No more talk.  Talking's done.  Do it or die."  Having just seen Apt Pupil when we put this together, we said: "Awwww, yeah."

Scott Glenn as Steven Deschain:  Let me say this: I really like Scott Glenn.  We originally considered Eastwood for this role, actually--but having Eastwood as Roland's father was...I don't know...too easy, too obvious.  You know us, we like to make things interesting.  But that's okay, Clint's in the chair.  Then people said Glenn should be Roland, but he's a little on the old side for our taste.  We saw Roland as much younger (at least before he and Walter had their  However, we found a place for Glenn.  He's perfect to play Roland's Dad, a pinnacle of strength.

Catherine McCormack as Gabrielle Deschain:  God love Roland's Mom.  She succumbed to the dark side (and ultimately paid the price).  So too did McCormack succumb to the dark side by being in one of the banes of my existence, Braveheart, but she exited the film as quickly as she could.  But I digress.  The tragic air she supplied to that film would enable her to carry herself well as Roland's mother.

Robert Duvall as Cort:  Cort is leather personified.  Cort is leather personified who carries a big-ass ironwood staff.  Cort is leather personified who carries a big-ass ironwood staff and smacks around kids for their own good.  Cort gets to say lines like: "The hawk is God's gunslinger."  Any questions?

Kieran Culkin as Cuthbert Allgood:   Again, we go back to the bar stand off in Meijis.  He's a smart ass, but he's a smart ass who when he says, "Stand still!  Move again and you're a dead man!" you believe him.  Culkin's proven himself a fine actor with an incredible performance in The Mighty.  We think he should saddle up.

Lucas Black as Alain Johns:  Stand off time again: "Put the gun down, my friend, or I'll cut your throat."  We've also got his "touch," his psychic sense.  He's the thoughtful one, and roles like the ones he's had in Sling Blade and "American Gothic" show that he's got that going for him.  We've got our three young gunslingers.

Michael Duncan as Hax:  A very large, likable kinda guy who just happens to get hung for treason.  That about wraps it up.  And after his basso profundo in Armageddon, who doesn't like Duncan?  We're looking forward to him in another King outing, The Green Mile.  We think he'd have time to put in a brief cameo as the cook.

 Sam Huntington as Jamie Decurry:  No bar stand-off in Meijis for this one.  Jamie's a bit of a peripheral teen gunslinger since he wasn't sent out to the frontier with Roland and company.  However, we wanted to include him and wanted to include Sam as well.  So there you have it.

Tim Curry as The Voices of Blaine:   Man, talk about somebody with some vocal power.  I mean, let's not even touch on his bit as Darkness in Legend long time back.  Let's talk Captain Hook if nothing else.  Curry's got the right voice that just, well, sounds evil as hell and crazed at the same time.  And if there's anything Blaine is, it's those two things.  We would also have him be the voice of "Little Blaine" just to make it creepy as hell.  Throw a small electronic effect on both voices and let's do it.

Ralph Moeller as The Tick-Tock Man:  Have you seen this guy?  Jesus, we're talking huge here!  He's TV's Conan and...I mean, damn, he must be from Texas or something.  I always saw Ticky as the kind of guy who could just palm your head.  And if there's anyone who matches that description, it's this guy.  Damnation.  We're talking big.

Billy Bob Thornton as Gasher:  Thornton is one of those actors who transforms himself for each role.  I don't think I've seen him look the same twice.  But that's not why it was easy to cast him as Lud's premiere pirate.  After seeing his look in U-Turn, I realized, wow, change that dirt and grease to sores and you've got Gasher.  Scary.

Sam Elliott as Eldred Jonas:  The Coffin Hunters were a bit of a task.  First, we wanted big list actors.  Then we wanted character actors.  Then we finally decided on big list character actors with a background in westerns.  Like I said, it was a task.  For the longest time we had Anthony Hopkins down for this role.  But once CCB brought up Sam, it was all over with.  The limping gunslinger sent west is a perfect part for Elliott, who's great in everything.  After seeing the trailer for Hi-Lo Country where Elliott plays a evil rancher or some such role, I know we've made the right choice.

Bruce Dern as Clay Reynolds:  We originally were tossing around the idea of Powers Boothe, who's a badass to be sure.  But hey then we realized: you want bad?  How about the first man to ever shoot John the back...and kill him?  Now, that's about as bad as you can get, right?  So we figure ship him off to Meijis and let's have some fun, what?

Jeff Fahey as Roy Depape:  We pictured Roy as the younger, goofy one.  Still evil--the kind of guy who when he was a kid liked to pull the wings off of flies...birds, too, if he could get his hands on them.  Since we had spent so much time discussing Eldred and Clay we never got to Roy until we had everything else in place.  Fahey seemed like a perfect fit who could hold his own against the other two veteran actors.

Natalie Portman as Susan Delgado:  Like we've said before, it's always interesting casting young people.  With older actors and actresses you can play around with the ages, but we always hate doing crap like casting 28-year-olds as high school students.  For Susan, the young lady who takes Roland's heart and his mind off of business, it took some searching, but we eventually came up with Portman.  She's young, beautiful, and a killer talent.  If you were Young Roland, wouldn't she turn your head?

Joan Allen as Aunt Cordelia:  You know, I get more impressed everytime I see Allen on the screen.  She's one of those actresses that's just that damn good.  And we got to thinking (which is scary, I know)--has she ever played a just downright evil role?  It would be too easy to cast an actress you'd expect to play domineering and twisted, but just like our casting of Frances McDormand as Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, this one's a good fit.

Lin Shaye as Rhea of the Coos:  Rhea's character starts off disgusting and doesn't go anywhere but down.  We kicked this one around for a while and decided to go with an actress who's been pretty disgusting in her time.  Sure, here roles in There's Something About Mary and Kingpin have been funny (but disgusting), but just imagine all of that as a serious hag, staring into the Grapefruit.  Eerie.

Malcolm McDowell as Mayor Thorin:  Opportunistic with just a hint of malevolence?  Here's a gent who went from a little bit of the ultra-violence to "Fantasy Island".  You can't get much more of a twisted range and career than that.  We think he's our man to lead Meijis to...well, ruin, of course.

Christopher Lee as Chancellor Rimer:  When we first meet Rimer, he's described as "Doctor Death."  Now, our first thought was Peter Cushing, but unfortunately, we lost Cushing back in 1994.  A hell of a shame.  But then we instantly went to Plan B, which was Lee.  If we can't have Van Helsing, we'll go with The Count.  A gaunt, elderly gent with tricks up his sleeve?  Lee's your man.

 John Goodman as Sheriff Avery:  A very large man who "was as loose as a trundle of laundry."  He's ingratiating on the outside but just like everyone else in Meijis he's got something to hide.  We were thinking either Goodman or Brian Dennehy and it came down to a matter of age.  We wanted to go just a bit on the younger side for Goodman.

Lukas Haas as Sheemie:  We didn't have too much to go on as far as Sheemie's age.  We pictured him as just a bit older than the other young people in Book Four.  We do have his...simplicity as a character note, though.  We wanted someone a little older who could pull off that dopey brand of foolishness and be likable.  After all, if he wasn't likable, we couldn't have that cool stand off in the bar we've been talking about, right?  Haas has been around long enough to where he could pull off the role.  We like it.

 And hey, would you like to...READ MORE ABOUT IT?  Check out The Barony of Gilead for more King info.  You'll be glad you did.

 Well, that's our casting.  And now, we're tired.  So it's off to pick more coffee beans.  What did you think of it, sai?

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