Well, this isn’t looking good for fans of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. After years and years of resting in development purgatory (is it really “hell” when it took years to even find a studio willing to produce the project?), Stephen King’s magnum opus is finally headed to the big screen and fans of Roland and The Ka Tet of Nineteen have been patiently waiting to see just what the Hollywood machine would do to this very beloved tale. Things started to become worrisome with the production when rumors of Idris Elba’s involvement as the gunslinger at the center of the saga, Roland Deschain, hit the interwebs. Now, fans have a bit more to be worried about. Today, Abby Lee, who was absolutely brilliant in Mad Max: Fury Road, has been cast as a female lead in The Dark Tower. That isn’t the problem. The problem is that she has been cast as a completely new character: Tirana. Yes, believe it or not, Hollywood is changing an almost perfect story.
Deadline broke the news that Sony and Media Rights Capital are in talks to cast Lee as a female villain against Elba’s Roland, who, apparently, is already set. According to the source, Tirana is described as ‘sexy and dangerous, she has fake human skin and cold snake-like eyes.’ and should be appearing in at least the first film. If you are a fan of the series you are no doubt asking yourself, “who the hell is Tirana??” That is a fair question since this character does not exist in the King novels.
If someone were to look at the first seven books in the series, there is not a single character that could even come close to this description. However, perhaps, and only “perhaps”, the filmmakers have decided to revisit points of the 8th (or fourth and a half, in continuity) novel, ‘The Wind Through The Keyhole’, and are going for a gender swapped Skin-man. There is no need to spoil anything at this point but if you are unfamiliar with the story, Skin-men are shapeshifters and in ‘Keyhole’, a young Roland and a fellow gunslinger are called to a town in which a Skin-man is causing more than a bit of havoc. It is possible that Hollywood has decided to take this part of the story and make this slight alteration. Considering just how much of the story has now changed without the Roland/Detta dynamic (seriously, Hollywood, did you even READ the series???), it is also possible that fans will wind up with a completely different story altogether and if that is the case, there is a very good chance that this project will never reach its second film.
Dark Tower fans are passionate about their obsession and with good cause! For some, reading the series changed their view of the universe and the first four books of the series are some of the best of King’s works. The first film is to focus on the first book in the series, ‘The Gunslinger’, with a corresponding television series being developed to connect the dots between each theatrical release in the franchise. It is a bold undertaking, to be sure, and in order to achieve success, a full understanding not only of the work itself but of the fanbase that follows Roland is absolutely essential. So far, Hollywood seems to have forgotten this and is simply counting on big names to reel people in. Hell, it worked for The Amazing Spider-Man, right?
One thing that Sony seems to have gotten right so far is the casting of Matthew McConnaughey as Roland’s rival, The Man In Black, who fans of King’s work will recognize as King’s Big Baddie throughout several of his other novels. Again, no need to spoil it but if that description isn’t raising any, um, flags for you, perhaps you will want to revisit some of those wonderful books. McConnaghey is the perfect choice for this particular role and, so far, it is the one bit of news that Tower fans can get behind.
Are you worried about this franchise yet? Do you have any other theories on who Tirana may be?