The filmmakers endeavoring to bring Stephen King's sprawling septet, The Dark Tower, to the big screen, would be hard pressed to find a better reason to celebrate (and breathe easy) than today's news that Javier Bardem has finally committed to play the lead role in director Ron Howard and writer Akiva Goldsman's wildly ambitious multimedia cinematic caravan comprised of three films and TV series.
Bardem is one of the few contemporary actors with the chops and charisma to shoulder such a massive undertaking and hold an audience's attention over many, many hours of viewing on screens big and small. Who else could have pulled it off? Russell Crowe has become tough to watch for two hours, much less twelve. Clive Owen could have been a contender, but he doesn't have Bardem's breadth of experience (or the Oscar hardware). Matt Damon might have had the brio but not the bluster. Brad Pitt can hold the screen but lacks gravitas. Bottom line: Howard and Co. would have been in a serious bind if they hadn't enlisted Bardem.
Roland Deschain is a character who bleeds complexity and depth. He also combines the kind of hero-antihero duality that's come to define Bardem at his best. Continuing the family legacy of gentleman gunslingers with metaphysical powers, Deschain is the walking embodiment of the morally ambiguous Western lone wolf who embarks on a heroes' quest to find the fabled titular citadel in order to put an end to the bloody battles ripping across the globe. Along the way, Deschain encounters unending hardships. He comes to question the existence of God, discovers his capacity for love and friendship, and ultimately grapples with issues of reincarnation and the prospect of earning and embracing his own redemption. If there's a big existential dilemma, chances are King found a way to build it into The Dark Tower's kaleidoscopic narrative.
Now all Howard has to do is corral a worthy supporting cast and and shoot the thing. But before he does, we'll take the opportunity to fire the first shot in a little game of fantasy casting: We nominate the great actor John Hawkes to play Eddie Dean. For Susannah Dean, we're rooting for Thandie Newton.
And we'd particularly love to see what Christian Bale would bring to the role of Jake Chambers. Now it's your turn.