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Dark Tower: Amazon Series Casts Michael Rooker

The Dark Tower will feature a familiar face (sorry, it's not the face of your father).

The Amazon series, an adaptation of Stephen King's eight-volume magnum opus of the same name, has secured the services of Michael Rooker of Guardians of the Galaxy fame. The actor announced the news himself on his website.

The show is the second attempt to do justice to King's novels, following the much-maligned 2017 film adaptation, the muddled narrative of which alienated King die-hards and casual fans alike. Although the casting of Idris Elba as Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger, and Matthew McConaughey as his nemesis the Man in Black were pretty much spot-on, the flick suffered from terminal studio tinkering and problems at the screenplay stage that proved impossible to overcome.

In case you're unfamiliar, King's novels focus on the Gunslinger, a man whose world (a bizarre alternate universe mirror-image of our own) has "moved on." This means, among other things, that its geography seems to change at random, times refuses to flow in any comprehensible sense, and it seems to be simply falling apart around Deschain as he focuses with extreme single-mindedness on completing his task. That task: to bring the Horn of Eld, a relic passed down by his distant relative Arthur Eld (an analogue for King Arthur) to the titular tower, the nexus of all realities which has come under assault from the minions of the Crimson King, powerful psychics known as "breakers." Roland desires simply to find out what awaits him at the top of the tower, and we'd love to explain more, but this is a short news article, not a 5000-word treatise.

Publication of the series began in 1978, when the first of five short stories which would eventually make up the first volume The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (one of many such publications to traffic in King's short stories in the author's early years). This volume was published in hardcover in 1982, and seven more would follow over the next 30 years. They were: The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three in 1987, The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands in 1991, The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass in 1997, The Dark Tower V: The Wolves of the Calla in 2003, The Dark Tower VI: The Song of Susannah in 2004, The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower later that same year, and The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole (which takes place between the fourth and fifth volumes) in 2012.

The series blended elements of the Western, dark fantasy, and horror genres in a way that no other literary work has done before or since, and while it is a challenging read — both in terms of its content, and also its insane length — it is considered to be among King's greatest accomplishments. Many of his standalone novels and stories have referenced the series, including 'Salem's Lot, The Stand, It, and Insomnia.

While the film adaptation faced challenges from the onset due to the sheer bulk of its source material, the TV adaptation should give this material a bit more room to breathe. While it has yet to be picked up to series, this seems like a foregone conclusion; according to Rooker's post, the pilot is currently shooting in Croatia.

Rooker, an absolute ringer of a character actor whose career stretches back to the '80s, has had his profile raised considerably in recent years with his turns as Merle in The Walking Dead and Yondu in the Guardians of the Galaxy series. One could make the argument that he would be a good fit for virtually any genre project, but his casting in The Dark Tower is nothing short of inspired. While we don't yet know what character he'll be playing, Scott Wampler of Birth.Movies.Death (the first site to report on Rooker's post) has read a few scripts, and he has an idea or two.

Wampler's opinion is also informed by the fact that the pilot episode is known to be focusing on the events of Wizard and Glass, which is told partially via flashbacks and focuses on Deschain's early days and his road to becoming a Gunslinger, one of an elite peacekeeping force evolved from medieval-style knights. One of the antagonists of that novel is Eldred Jonas, a failed would-be Gunslinger and member of an opposing, amoral force known as the "Big Coffin Hunters." His characterization would make a nice match for Rooker's acting style, and considering the pilot's focus on the fourth volume, the character is all but certain to make an appearance.

Another possibility: Steven Deschain, Roland's father, leader of the Gunslingers and the bearer of the Horn of Eld. Rooker is certainly adept at projecting chilly authority, and the elder Deschain is characterized by being spare with displays of emotion. But in our humble opinion (and Wampler's, as well), Jonas would be a better fit, and that's where our money is.

Rooker joins a cast that includes Sam Strike (Mindhunter) as Roland and Finnish actor Jasper Pääkkönen (BlacKkKlansman) as the Man in Black, who attempts to thwart the gunslinger on his quest. The series will be showrun by Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead), and — assuming it's picked up to series — the first season will consist of 13 episodes. We'll keep our eyes peeled for additional details, and report them as they become available.