WHO SHOULD PLAY ROLAND IN THE DARK TOWER…?

March 9th, 2008


From left-to-right: Hugh Jackman, Clint Eastwood, Daniel Craig, Gabriel Byrne, Hugh Laurie, Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Ray Liotta.

In the longest running comment thread on Have Coffee Will Write, the discussion of Dark Tower: The Movie has now gone on for 13 months (14.2.7 to 6.3.8). In contemplating who should get the lead role of Roland Deschain I’ve assembled the eight suggestions so far. I agree with Pier-Luc and eight8inate, the character is all in the eyes.

Who do you think should get the part?

[Update 5 March 2009 -- The decision has been made. According to reader Sandy Corkins, David Simmons has won the role.]

[Update 9 March 2009 -- This thread is now one-year-old and still the conversation continues.]

135 Responses to “WHO SHOULD PLAY ROLAND IN THE DARK TOWER…?”

  1. Marta N says:

    The only three that could pass for roland im my opinion would be Byrne, Lewis, and jackman.

    Having said that. I vote for jackman. You can always make an actor look older… It is tough to make an older actor look younger. Plus he is the closest thing to clint eastwood we can get. He just need to be a bit more steely and gritty for the part. I think he could do it though.
    martz

    • shelbie says:

      Daniel Craig for sure.

      • Jeff Hess says:

        Shalom Shelbie,

        Thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the conversation. We build our community through our conversations.

        B’shalom,

        Jeff

    • Gilead says:

      Josh Hartnett as young Roland
      Daniel-Day Lewis as mature Roland

      • Jeff Hess says:

        Shalom Gilead,

        First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and for, most importantly, taking the time to share you view. We build our communities with our conversations.

        I’m wondering if there is a father and son team out there who could play the roles.

        B’shalom,

        Jeff

  2. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Marta,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to join our dialogue. We building our communities with our conversations.

    I wonder how Jackman would have faired as the No-Name Cowboy?

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  3. [...] 5 March 2009 — The decision has been made. According to reader Sandy Corkins, David Simmons has won the role.] Posted in Culture, [...]

  4. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Chris,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, taking the time to share your view. Building community is all about our conversations.

    Yes, Viggo certainly looks the part, although the more I look at him, the less I see the world-weariness, going-around-the-circle-again-ness I think the Roland character demands.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  5. Dylan Wright says:

    I think it should obviously by Clint Eastwood. In the book they even have Eddie state the resemblance of the blue bombarder eyes and how he reminded him of a post of Eastwood.

    • Ryan Sutton says:

      Sorry dude but Eastwood, being my favorite actor, is far too old. Jackman is too young. The other guys are all too weird and un Eastwood looking. That being said, I think Hugh Laurie would be great as Roland.

      • Jeff Hess says:

        Shalom Ryan,

        First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion. We build our community with our conversation.

        I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said (well, I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest the others are too weird). From the beginning I’ve wished that the movie could have been made at about the same time as Unforgiven — Eastwood have been perfect then — and that today Hugh Laurie is my No. 1 choice.

        B’shalom,

        Jeff

      • JC says:

        Although you may be right Hugh would be a great fit, he would be unable to do the part as contracted with fox for House (which by the way is the greatest tv series ever imo) but i think dwight yoakam would do great in this part.

    • Christina says:

      Clint Eastwood is the only choice.

      • Jeff Hess says:

        Shalom Christina,

        First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, sharing your view. A community thrives on its conversations.

        Even 20 years ago, I would have no reservations, but too much time has passed.

        B’shalom,

        Jeff

  6. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Dylan,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to write a comment. We build our community through our conversations.

    If age were not a factor, I doubt that anyone would disagree with you. You could not convince me that King did not have Eastwood in his head as he wrote the famous words:

    The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  7. kateb says:

    Hugh Jackman would also be good. A rugged, leather legged type of fellow. In character, of course.

    Just found and really like your blog!!

  8. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Kate,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to join the dialogue. We build our communities with our conversations.

    Jackman has won quite a few hearts.

    And thank you for the complement. I hope you continue to find worthwhile reading here.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  9. [...] actores que ya han sido colocados en el papel por parte de los fans, y que son repasados en el blog Have coffe will write. Clint [...]

  10. Dain83 says:

    Daniel Day Lewis, Hands Down. An amazing method actor that has the look and voice.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Dain,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to cast your vote. We build our community with our conversations.

      I agree, voice is a critical factor in any selection. I think we all have heard Roland in our heads for years.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  11. fdsij says:

    jackman: havent seen him before in a role suited for roland, he would have to dig some new dimensions from himself
    clint: too old
    craig: basically ok but no
    byrne: not physical or violent enough
    laurie: not physical or violent enough
    daniel day lewis: YES MAYBE
    tommy lee jones: too old
    liotta: NO :)

    my personal favourite: Kiefer sutherland

    • Zombie Gunslinger says:

      I, personally agree that Daniel Day Lewis is one of the top actors I’d like to see for the role. I also nominate Christian Bale. The grit in him in 3:10 to Yuma is undeniably Roland quality with some work.

      • Jeff Hess says:

        Shalom Zombie,

        I wonder if all our long anticipation for seeing TDT on the screen may have ruined us forever.

        B’shalom,

        Jeff

  12. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Fdsij,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to engage in the dialogue. Building community is all about our conversations.

    I’m afraid that I couldn’t watch Sutherland as Roland without that infernal digital clock pounding in my ears.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  13. mojojackson says:

    Other than Eastwood, none of the actors pictured above would be appropriate for Roland. Who’s idea was it to put Gabriel Byrne and Ray Liotta up there? Maybe they were being sarcastic.

    Stephen Moyer is a good actor and apart from his height (he’s shorter than average), looks eerily like the illustrations of Roland from the books. But apart from HBO’s True Blood, he’s not well known. The only actor I can think of that would fit the character and have enough name recognition to make his casting likely is Viggo Mortensen. Watch the trailer for The Road (or just watch aany of his performances) and you’ll see what I mean.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Mojo,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to share your views.

      By any measure, the two posts on potential actors to play Roland are my most popular. Over the years, I’ve grown to think that making any movie from King’s Dark Tower books would be a mistake. Too may people will be disappointed because they feel passionately about the characters. The big (or little) screen is just not capable of doing justice to King’s vision.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  14. Straker says:

    OK, I just have one thing to say to anyone thinking that Hugh Jackman can’t pull this off.

    Eastwood

    Jackman

    Jackman is as close to a modern Clint Eastwood as you’re going to get.

  15. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Straker,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to add to our discussion. We build our community through our conversations.

    Great examples. Thank you.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  16. Hobbes says:

    I don’t agree with any of the 8 original choices. However, I do have a suggestion for the role of Roland: Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men).

    Check out some of his pics.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Hobbes,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to share your view. We build our community with our conversations.

      While Brolin did an excellent job in NCFOM, he doesn’t resonate with me as Roland, but hey, that’s just me.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  17. cbo680 says:

    I have always imagined clint eastwood. I know he is old but wasn’t Roland old as well? Anyways I’m not sure who else I would choose…maybe hugh jackman

  18. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom CBO,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the dialogue. We build our community with our conversations.

    In my head, it will always be Clint Eastwood.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  19. cbo680 says:

    I definitely agree even though it might not turn out to be clint eastwood,when reading, I imagine eastwoods voice and mannerisms through out the serious, as well as his look… Who would you feel would make a good eddie dean???

  20. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom CBO,

    I never had a strong image of Eddie, but I came to see Johnny Depp in the role. Others have offered their opinions as well.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

    • Zombie Gunslinger says:

      My number one choice for Eddie would be Ryan Reynolds! He has the keen wit and attitude….and could go from being scrawny and wasted away to being a seasoned, badass, ripped gunslinger! =D

      • Jeff Hess says:

        Shalom Zombie,

        First, thank you for shuffling in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to moan appropriately. Can we save our communities through conversations with the undead?

        I really, really, really hope that Ron Howard doesn’t screw this up the way so many before Peter Jackson got The Lord Of The Rings right.

        B’shalom,

        Jeff

  21. Ka-mai says:

    For me, out of the shortlist at the top of the page, I would choose either Lewis or Jackman.

    My personal preference for the part of Roland (from a casting directors perspective) would be Viggo Mortensen, who gave a very atmospheric performance in The Road (which in itself reminded me of turnpikin’ and also Roland’s ka-tet in Lud)

    For Eddie, I would probably choose either, Dominic Monaghan (LOTR) or Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting)

    Susannah – Gabrielle Union
    Jake – ?
    Henry Dean – Johnny Depp
    Walter – Max Von Sydow/Ian McKellen
    Blaine The Mono – (voiced by) Tobin Bell (Saw films)

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Ka-Mai,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to share your thoughts, we build our community through our conversations.

      I find it interesting that as this comment thread enters its third year that fewer and fewer actors in the eight I selected as possibilities in 2008 appeal.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  22. LoquaciousQ says:

    VERY interesting dialogue here, especially now that Ron Howard is going for the rights (thus saving it from Abrams & Co.).

    Roland needs wrinkles. Not necessarily age wrinkles, but weary, dusty, sand-chafed, weathered wrinkles. I agree it’s in the eyes, but as much as I love Jackman or Mortenson I think their eyes are just too optimistic. Eastwood would have been iconic had this project been done when he did Unforgiven. But to reality…

    Daniel Day Lewis would be a fine choice, just because he can do anything. I would also trust Hugh Laurie with it. Someone like Josh Brolin could look the part, but I’m not convinced he would bring the emotional weight to it. Nathan Fillion perhaps, but he has too good a sense of humor. Harrison Ford could do it, but I’m not sure he’d be up for the multi-project deal. I think Aidan Quinn might be an interesting choice.

  23. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Loquacious,

    First thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for choosing to enter the discussion. We build our communities with our conversations.

    I am very pleased to read the news that Ron Howard may have a crack at this project. I would trust him with both a movie and a t.v. series. I hope that Stephen King feels the same way.

    I agree with you that there is an unmeasurable quality of gravity that must come from whomever finally gets to play Roland. Casting will be all.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  24. sundaycall says:

    Not sure about Howard or Goldsman for that matter. I haven’t finished the series yet, but have always had the impression any adapation would need to depict the grim sense of loss, desolation and dread often found in mid-world but also have actors and a script that allow the books characters to shine and connect in this world without being a cliche’ or schmalz zone.

    Hmmm.

    Anyhow I have to say, even if for one or two movies, Daniel Day Lewis would be fantasic. Right age, look, voice, talent and lets face it, Roland needs to anchor the film, you need to make the audience hang on Roland’s every word and action, especially in a film version of The Gunslinger – which has much less dialogue and characters than the later books. There needs to be a magnetic sadness and drive behind Roland. Especially before the sudience knows the details of his story or quest. A gravity, with the ability to be funny too without diluting the character.

    Sorry far too long.

  25. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Sunday,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion. We build our community with our conversations.

    No, no, no. Long is good. I like long.

    I agree with you on the matter of the gravity of Roland. Playing Roland will be the equivalent of playing Ulysses in the full Homeric sense. The actor cannot be some pretty/craggy face, he has to have real gravitas.

    The audience has to fully believe he is Roland.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  26. Victoria Stark says:

    I’ve decided to toss a new name into the hat: Timothy Olyphant. Watch a few reruns of ‘Deadwood’ with this in mind before you argue too fiercely.

    Olyphant has the advantage of relative obscurity compared with the likes of Mortenson and Day-Lewis. The audience would then be free to project (or at least protect) their version of Roland onto the screen rather than some uber-Hollywood version (recall my disappointment – nay, devastation – seeing Tom Cruise looking more like he belonged in a 1980′s hair band than a turn of the century New Orleans plantation when Interview with a Vampire came to the silver screen).

    Ultimately, though, I think it’s more fun to speculate than it would be to see the movie. So many true believers will be disappointed no matter how well a movie actually performed at the box office. I was entertained when ‘The Stand’ became a miniseries – it was fun to see the characters I’d read about (someone’s version of them, at any rate) come to life, but today, almost 20 years later (!!) I can’t help remembering that King himself imagined Robert Duvall for Randall Flagg and instead we got Jamey Sheridan. Not a terrible actor, but no Bobby Duvall!

    King said it quite well, “Movies, after all, are only an illusion of motion comprised of thousands of still photographs. The imagination, however, moves with its own tidal flow. Films, even the best of them, freeze fiction… That is not necessarily bad…but it is limiting. The glory of a good tale is that it is limitless and fluid; a good tale belongs to each reader in its own particular way.”

    So perhaps the only movie should be the one in which each of us gets to be casting director, cinematographer, and (maybe especially) occasional co-star: The movie in each of our minds. But for what it’s worth, The Dark Tower movies in my mind star Timothy Olyphant.

  27. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Victoria,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. We build our communities with our conversations.

    I agree that all movies are limiting, but today I find it impossible to read John le Carré’s novels involving George Smiley without hearing the voice of Sir Alec Guinness.

    There may be something in the idea of never going to see a movie made from a book you truly treasure.

    I suffered through several bad attempts of bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings to the screen before Peter Jackson got it right. I remember sitting in the theater on a weekday afternoon watching the opening scenes of the movie and thinking, finally.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  28. sundaycall says:

    Victoria you make an excellent point. Movies can be limiting especially with rapid fanbases who already have characters, scenary and pacing in their own head. I had no idea King wanted Duvall for Flagg. Thirty years ago Duvall may have been great in that role.

    How ever it is also true that when they get it right, the right person in the right role, there an be magic.

    Jeff mentioned Alec Guinness, but people like Ian McKellan as Gandalf, Christopher Lee as Dracula and Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch will forever cast the image of those characters when people read those books for the first time today.

    It got me onto the notion of who should play Flagg/Marten or Walter (Are we taking the revised version that they’re all the same?) in the first film, when he’s the goal and must at least be as strong on screen as the man pursuing him. Do you go for a big name for the villain? Many suggest Willem Defoe or Jackie Earl Haley, but I’ve always loved, and don’t ask me why, the idea of someone like Nicolas Cage for Flagg.

    He’s fearless as an actor for one, if you’ve seen Face/Off who have seen that skin crawling grin he can pull off and he has a manic energy about him. Hmmm. Nic Cage vs Roland Deschain. I’m rambling now.

  29. Spiderknight says:

    Anybody here watch a show called True Blood?

    I vote Stephen Moyer for Roland. Not too old not too young. Has those piercing eyes and is constantly brooding. Only flaw i can imagine is that hes a little on the short side…

  30. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Spider,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to share your opinion. We build our community with our conversation.

    I increasingly am fascinated by how iconic Roland is. This discussion could take place in any generation as it seeks the personification of its archetypal warrior.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  31. Lara Russo says:

    I think that the best option would be Clint Eastwood… but the way he looked like 30 years ago. So, as the closest to that is Hugh Jackman, I think he is the man.

    Go Jackman!

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Lara,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion. Building community requires conversation.

      I have to imagine that actors are all pushing their agents to land this role.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  32. Adam says:

    Easwood first and foremost but what about Clive Owen Jeff Goldbloom or Gary Oldman?

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Adam,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion. We build our communities with our conversations.

      I might be able to deal with Oldman, but Goldbloom?

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  33. David Wyatt says:

    I agree, Clint Eastwood would have been perfect since Roland is basically created upon him. Sadly he has past the Dark Tower window. Hugh Jackman would be my next choice and he will work with the part.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom David,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and for, most importantly, taking the time to enter the discussion. We build our communities with our conversations.

      I need to do a tally. I think Jackman may be the vote leader.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  34. Adam says:

    I just don’t think Hugh Jackman hard edged, gritty or “dark” enough for the role. And like stated before, he’s too young.

    • tj says:

      thomas jane or nathan wournos as roland

      • Jeff Hess says:

        Shalom TJ,

        First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and for, most importantly, sharing your thoughts. We build our community with our conversations.

        What is it about Jane or Wournos that attracts you?

        B’shalom,

        Jeff

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Adam,

      I think that by the time the movie gets made, Jackman will have the years and he has the advantage of being able to still play the younger Roland.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  35. tim says:

    Scott Glenn would be my choice,even beating out Clint, but age would be the problem so I would go with Daniel-Day Lewis as Roland.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Tim,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for joining the discussion. Our conversations are the blocks with which we build our communities.

      I would agree with Glenn, but no one beats out Eastwood.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  36. Wardo says:

    Nathan Fillion.

    Watch him in the movie Serenity. Already knows how to handle a nice sized weapon.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Wardo,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion. Through our conversations we build our communities.

      Fillion could play the young Roland, but he’s too pretty for my tastes.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  37. Wolf says:

    Hugh Jackman??? Not even close. Viggo, maybe. Has anyone cosidered Lance Henriksen? Dark, gritty, weathered, and in my opinion highly underrated. Also, not to busy to attach himself to a long term project. Just a thought.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Wolf,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to engage your peers. We build communities with our conversations.

      I remember Henriksen from his role as a sheriff on NCIS. He was good.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  38. Mike says:

    Join the growing movment of fans who want… nay…NEED! Clint Howard to play the part of Roland of Gilead. Clint for Roland!! Clint for Roland!!! Screw Clint Eastwood we want the Howard boys to rock this one all the way to the bank.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Mike,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion. We build our community with our conversations.

      I confess that Clint Howard just isn’t working for me, even if his brother is directing.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  39. lacey says:

    i wonder of anyone noticed that there is a mention of clint eastwood in every single dt book, ne who i dont think My love Clint Eastwood can play Roland because he is too old, but he can play Steven Deschain, Ad for Roland i love love Hugh Jackman but even he isnt doing it for me as Roland. I’m thinking Daniel DaY Lewis or Eric Bana

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Lacey,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion. Building community only happens when conversations take place.

      I knew a Jim Lacey on board the USS Bainbridge.

      I think most of us understood whom King had in mind when he created the Roland character.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  40. Jeff says:

    Timothy Olyphant for Roland. If not him, the Viggo. Or an unknown actor might be best. Really hope Ron Howard and crew don’t screw this up.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Jeff,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion. We build our community with our conversations.

      I actually have a lot of faith in Howard.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  41. Terry says:

    Funny, I’ve been saying for years that Viggo Mortenson could handle this deep role as Roland. But as I was reading, and remembering the roles Timothy Olyphant played, I thought he should at least get an honorable mention. And who says that Ron Howard will want a very pessimistic, dark character as others have suggested? I like Olyphant for his humor and quick wit, and he plays the action and killer roles very well. I would hope that one or both would have a role in this great film that I know it will be.

  42. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Terry,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for entering into the discussion. We build our communities with our conversations.

    I have a feeling that no matter whom Howard ultimately casts as Roland that there will not be universal praise.

    It took a long time and a lot of bad adaptations before Peter Jackson finally got The Lord Of The Rings right.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  43. Adam says:

    After seeing “The Fountain” I have much more respect for Hugh Jackmans work. My only problem is that I just can’t picture him as Roland. Much better suited as Eddie. The reason I said Goldbloom, as crazy as it sound, is because he is tall and lanky, dark and a great actor.

  44. pawl k ventura says:

    jeff fahey has the right look, though he’s hardly proven himself to any kind of great actor–if only daniel day lewis wasnt so fugly.

    actually though, while watching eastwood in Gran Turino, there were some scenes where I thought: “he could still pull it off”

    you forget: when we’d see steven deschain, he’d be in his forties or something–he’s not roland’s grampa

  45. angry_hippie says:

    Here are some off the wall choices: Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, or Joaquin Pheonix (maybe as Eddie if not Roland). I think any of these guys can pull off the intensity needed for Roland, and Hollywood can do amazing things with makeup. I don’t think how the actor looks is going to be as important as the way he acts. Robert Downey Jr. could be amazing as Walter/The Man in Black.

  46. angry_hippie says:

    Here are a few more that may fit the bill: Keith Carridine, Liev Schriber and I also think Ray Liota might be a good choice.

  47. kyle says:

    I just came out of cowboys verse aliens, daniel craig, and immediately went online to see if anyone had thought of him for roland. He has the perfect look, eyes, cold gunslinger attitude and killer instincts. There’s no doubt in my mind he could do it. Now if only they could get the dark tower movies back on track

  48. bw Frampton says:

    I think Jeff Goldblum would be perfect. Wicked eyes…tall…lanky and looks as if he’s been through hell…

  49. [...] You just never know what will set readers off. [...]

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