Tow­er­ing char­ac­ter

Play­ing The Gun­slinger in The Dark Tower, Idris Elba takes up the chal­lenge of rein­vent­ing him­self as an ac­tor

New Straits Times - - Groove -

WHEN Idris Elba was first of­fered the iconic role of Roland Deschain, a.k.a. The Gun­slinger, in the ea­gerlyawaited ac­tion ad­ven­ture block­buster he was a lit­tle taken aback.

With typ­i­cal mod­esty, he points out that there are a lot of other ac­tors who could also have been con­sid­ered for the part. “If I’m hon­est I didn’t know books when I was first ap­proached,” he says.

“I had made a few films with Sony Screen Gems and when Sony came to me, I was like wow be­cause many, many tal­ented, good ac­tors could have got­ten this role. Ob­vi­ously I was very pleased that I landed it,” he laughs.

And while it’s true that Hol­ly­wood is blessed with many fine per­form­ers who could have stepped into The Gun­slinger’s shoes, for di­rec­tor Niko­laj Ar­cel (A Royal Af­fair), there re­ally was only one choice when it came to de­cid­ing who should play him.

“I’ve been a fan of his since says the di­rec­tor. “He’s a mag­nif­i­cent per­former. I won­dered ‘would Idris have the same vi­sion?’ And when we dis­cussed Roland’s char­ac­ter, his jour­ney and his psy­chol­ogy, it turned out that he did. It just clicked and he was for­mi­da­ble.”

CON­NECT­ING WORLDS

Based on the nov­els by mas­ter sto­ry­teller Stephen King, is an epic tale of good ver­sus evil.

Roland Deschain is the last Knight

The Gun­slinger (Deschain) faces off with The Man In Black (MaConaughey).

War­rior who has been locked in an eter­nal bat­tle with Wal­ter O’Dim, also known as The Man In Black (Matthew McConaughey), to try and pre­vent him from de­stroy­ing The Dark Tower, which holds the uni­verse to­gether.

If the tower crashes, mil­lions of lives will be lost but for Roland, it’s per­sonal too. The Man In Black has killed his fam­ily.

When we first meet him, he’s weary, dis­il­lu­sioned and los­ing his will to fight un­til he meets 14-year-old Jake Cham­bers (Tom Tay­lor), who crosses over from con­tem­po­rary New York City into MidWorld, a par­al­lel earth.

“To say that Roland is haunted is a bit of a cliché but he is,” says Elba. “He has a past that he can’t shake off, he can’t let go, un­til he meets Tom’s char­ac­ter Jake and then he finds a way to con­front his past — re­ally con­front it. Ev­ery­thing has been taken away from him and he is on a quest for vengeance — it’s be­come part of him

and his con­scious­ness.”

Play­ing Roland/The Gun­slinger was, he says, un­like any­thing he’s tack­led be­fore. “I felt that the part had a lot of depth,” Elba says.

“I feel that as an ac­tor you get some roles that are chal­leng­ing in a way that means you have to rein­vent your­self. With Roland I worked on him from the in­side out. I tried to com­pare who I was and who he was, and started build­ing him.”

Elba ad­mits the chal­lenge of mak­ing an epic set in con­nect­ing worlds was huge — the pro­duc­tion filmed the MidWorld sec­tion on vast, sur­real, beau­ti­ful land­scapes in South Africa. And that’s just the way he likes it.

“It was a lot of hard work, es­pe­cially when we were in South Africa, our Mid World. It was long hours and quite phys­i­cal. Play­ing a su­per-hero is like noth­ing I’ve ever done be­fore. The char­ac­ter has a lot of depth but he also gets to do a lot of ac­tion se­quences, which was fun to do. I learnt new skills like gun han­dling.

“And the chal­lenge was to do some­thing pretty cool and to make it look good. It was also great work­ing with Tom. He’s fan­tas­tic.”

Elba has starred in block­busters be­fore, of course — he’s played Helm­dall in the Marvel films and

for ex­am­ple — but was dif­fer­ent.

“I’ve been in big pro­duc­tions be­fore but not as a lead and not like this,” he says. “It’s a big block­buster film and it’s a dif­fer­ent en­ergy when you are at the front of that train. It’s full on and it’s very in­ter­est­ing.”

He was, though, in safe hands. Di­rec­tor Niko­laj Ar­cel, who co-wrote the screen­play, has loved King’s books since he was a kid grow­ing up in Den­mark. “So he’s a fan of the books and he has in­ter­preted them in a way that makes per­fect sense as a movie,

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