Ron Howard’s plan for his adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is ambitious. Three movies and two TV series will tell the tale of Roland, the gunslinger making his way across worlds to the Dark Tower. That alone is an incredible feat to attempt - what if the movie bombs? What if the TV show tanks? - but even more impressive is the fact that he’s going after a movie star to play the lead. A movie star who would have to commit to a season of a TV show.
The two main actors Howard has on his current wishlist are Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen. Both seem like excellent choices (although I wonder if fanboy nation would shit their pants if Roland had an accent), but how willing would either be to commit to a TV show on top of three films? There are, though, some things on the project’s plus side:
- The TV series will probably be shorter than an average series; still, even shooting six to twelve hours of TV is hard, intense work.
- The second season will probably not need the actor. According to the New York Post season two of the series would be a flashback story, focusing on young Roland. I imagine the studio and network would like to have the lead appear in season two - bookending episodes or something - but it would be much less work.
- Being on TV no longer carries any shame. Some of the best storytelling in the United States is happening on television. Actors would die to be in movies half as good as many episodes of Mad Men.
- I bet it pays like nobody’s business. Bardem and Mortensen are both guys interested in non-mainstream work. Doing this could finance lots of non-mainstream work.
There’s nothing about this project that I like on an aesthetic level, but I love everything about it on an ambition level. I like seeing people doing such crazy, seemingly impossible things. Assuming The Dark Tower ends up in the format Howard wants - the three movies, the two TV seasons - we’re looking at something unprecedented in American entertainment. Good or bad it’ll be interesting to follow.