"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
Those are the first words in The Gunslinger, the first book in Stephen King's series of The Dark Tower novels. Ever since those words appeared in book form in 1983, fans of that series have spent countless hours coming up with imaginary movie casts to fill that world.
Now, though, a first movie based on the series is officially in the works, and that cast is no longer imaginary: King confirmed that the film is a go with Matthew McConaughey as the man in black and Idris Elba as the gunslinger, aka Roland Deschain.
The Dark Tower, considered by most as King's magnum opus, takes readers on an incredible journey as Roland treks across the desert and through other worlds, forming a ka-tet with new friends and allies, forever chasing the man in black, who would destroy all. The story captured readers with its inventiveness, as well as its characters, and caught the attention of studio heads in Hollywood, with many struggling to create an adaptation worthy of its reputation for years.
"The thing is, it's been a looong trip from the books to the film," King said to Entertainment Weekly. "When you think about it, I started these stories as a senior in college, sitting in a little ----- cabin beside the river in Maine, and finally this thing is actually in pre-production now. I'm delighted, and I'm a little bit surprised."
Now, though, that adaptation is real, with two heavy-hitting actors ready to take on two of the most iconic roles in modern literature. The film also has a director, Nikolaj Arcel, who will work with King as co-writer on the project.
"What Stephen King does best is mixing the everyday, or what you might call the mundane, with the fantastical," Arcel said. "In my view, [The Dark Tower] novels are a mix between sci-fi and fantasy and modern times. That exact mix is so Stephen King."
Although the first movie won't begin with The Gunslinger, King does want fans to know that the opening line from that story will also open the film. The first movie will begin in the middle of the story, although there are currently no details on exactly which books will end up on-screen. Arcel, however, did hint that a lot of what we'll see will happen in "our day, the modern world."