Writ­ing su­per­star Stephen King on the long road from the novel to the sil­ver screen

A best­seller has made it to the screen af­ter many at­tempts

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - With Seanna Cronin

STEPHEN King was just 22 years old when he wrote The Gun­slinger, the first in­stal­ment of The Dark Tower. Now, 35 years later, his mag­num opus is the in­spi­ra­tion for an ac­tion film star­ring lead­ing men Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughe­y.

In this Q&A the best-sell­ing au­thor, who worked closely with di­rec­tor Niko­laj Ar­cel as a pro­ducer on the film, talks about build­ing film fran­chises and tak­ing his story in a new direction.

Q: Most Stephen King fans thought The Dark Tower film might never hap­pen. Did you al­ways have faith?

A: I don’t worry about it. The books are done. When I was work­ing on the books I was to­tally con­cen­trated on those. It never seemed likely to me that some­one would come along and want to make a film out of it. There were things from time to time when peo­ple would talk about the pos­si­bil­ity, but I never took it se­ri­ously. Modi (Wi­cyzk, co-CEO of Me­dia Rights Cap­i­tal) came along, and he got re­ally in­ter­ested in it. This was af­ter Ron Howard had got­ten in­ter­ested in it. They even­tu­ally made it hap­pen. I started to think two years ago maybe that it re­ally would hap­pen. We all got to­gether and talked about it in Sara­sota. Peo­ple were re­ally se­ri­ous and they started to spend se­ri­ous money. I said, well, let’s see what hap­pens.

Q: What changed over the years?

A: I don’t know. You know what, I think that a lot of film­mak­ers were in­ter­ested in the visual pos­si­bil­i­ties and the sweep of the story. Of course, there was an in­flu­ence prob­a­bly by the suc­cess of Peter Jack­son’s Lord Of The Rings movies. Ev­ery stu­dio is look­ing for a tent-pole project where it’s pos­si­ble to not only do a movie, but to do a se­ries of movies. I like that and I think a lot of view­ers do too. They like be­ing part of a long saga type thing. I think those things all played a part. The thing that’s most ex­cit­ing to me is that this is a risky project, in that it’s not backed up by a bunch of comic books. There was a Dark Tower comic book, but the books are the thing that peo­ple think of the most. So I think peo­ple were ex­cited by that. The cre­ative peo­ple were able to say, this is some­thing en­tirely new that melds the Western with fan­tasy, let’s go out there and see if we can make this hap­pen. And fi­nally some­one did.

Q: When the story starts Roland has the Horn of Eld, which he is given at the end of The Dark Tower se­ries of books. So is this more of a con­tin­u­a­tion of the story?

A: I don’t want to give too much away about the books to peo­ple who haven’t read ’em, but there’s this thing that peo­ple say in the course of all the books. They talk about ka, which is fate, and they say ka is a wheel and it al­ways goes around and comes back to where it starts again. That’s an idea I got from East­ern phi­los­o­phy. I don’t want to get high-fa­lut­ing about it, but there is this idea that you’re go­ing to live your life over and over and over again, with vari­a­tions, un­til you get things right. Akiva Golds­man’s idea and Nik’s idea was to bring this in and say, maybe this is the sec­ond time around for Roland Deschain and this time he’s go­ing to try to get it right. Things are not ex­actly the same as the book, but peo­ple who read the books will see all the touch points that they know from the books. At least in this first movie, but you can only do so much at one time.

Q: This is the first of a pro­posed saga span­ning movies and tele­vi­sion shows?

A: It does need room to breathe. I like Akiva as a writer very much. I think he’s very, very tal­ented. The other thing about Akiva is that he’s com­fort­able with fan­tasy. Akiva’s done a num­ber of dif­fer­ent things and he came in and said, well, look, why don’t we start in the mid­dle of the story, and see if we can make that thing work? Ron Howard had talked about this re­ally cre­ative idea of say­ing, let’s push the story for­ward with Roland in a se­ries of movies and maybe we can do his back story, his growth from a child to an ap­pren­tice to a gun­slinger, as a TV se­ries. That’s the long-term plan.

The Dark Tower opens on Thurs­day.

PHOTO: JES­SICA MIGLIO

Idris Elba and Tom Tay­lor in a scene from The Dark Tower.

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