Guest Post: Musings Stephen King’s books to movies: The Dark Tower and The Stand

By Ted Saydalavong

In the last few months or so Stephen King is back on the Hollywood radar again because two of his most popular novels are making their way to the big screen, The Dark Tower series and The Stand. I’m a huge King’s fan and love those novels so I was ecstatic when Hollywood is going to spend big money on them. Also, apparently they’re planning to remake Pet Cemetery but that was a crappy book and the original movie was even crappier. So for this post I’m just going to focus on The Dark Tower and The Stand.

I’ll start with The Dark Tower series. For those who’ve never read the series; there are seven books in total. The story is about a man named Roland Deschain, he is the last living member of a knightly order known as The Gunslingers. He is from another version of our world, but his world has the technological and social characteristics with the American Old West but is also magical. Many of the magical aspects have vanished, but traces remain as do relics from a technologically advanced society.

Roland’s quest is to find the Dark Tower, a fabled building said to be the nexus of all universes. Roland’s world is said to have “moved on”, and it appears to be coming apart at the seams. Mighty nations have been torn apart by war, entire cities and regions vanish without a trace and time does not flow in an orderly fashion. Even the sun sometimes rises in the north and sets in the east. As the series opens, Roland’s motives, goals and age are unclear, though later installments shed light on these mysteries. He is able to travel between his world and our world. Along his quest for the Dark Tower, he “recruited” three people from our world, each from a different decade. Their names are Eddie Dean, Susannah Odetta Holmes and Jack Chamber. Eddie was living in 1987 before he got “recruited” into Roland’s quest, Susannah is from 1964 and Jake is from 1977. Also, there is an animal named Oy that’s part of the gang. There are two main villains in the series, one named Randall Flagg, also known as The Man in Black and the other one is The Crimson King.

The story has a mixture of western, action, horror and sci-fi genre rolled into one. I know that a lot of the stuff that were written on the books could never ever make it to the screen. I don’t know if Ron Howard is the right person to tackle this kind of project but I keep my fingers crossed because I’ve waited for years to see the film version.

I love the first five books but I thought the last two were pretty weak. I actually stopped reading King’s work after the last Dark Tower book. I was so upset at how he ended the series that I refused to read any of his new novels. I spent years waiting for him to finish it and how he decided to end the last book was quite disappointing to me. With that said, I do think the film version could be epic if they do it right, Ron Howard is pushing hard to get the project green lit.

As for casting, rumor has been going around that Howard had offered the role of Roland to Javier Bardem but he hasn’t accepted the offer yet. (rtm’s note: Screenrant reported yesterday that producer Brian Grazer said this about the Spanish actor “He’s locked in psychologically. He really wants to do it, so we’re absolutely rooting for him to do it.”)  I like Bardem as an actor, but I think he’s totally wrong for this role. Another actor rumored to be on the list is Christian Bale, who I think is a better choice. The reason I think Bale is better suited for the role of Roland is because in the books, King described him as 6’2, blue-eyed and kind of rugged looking, see the rendering photo of Roland on this Wiki file, I don’t know about you but I think that photo kind of resembles Bale. Now if Bardem does get the part, I won’t have any problems with it, he’s good actor and hopefully he can bring Roland to life the way I envisioned him while reading the books.

My ideal cast would be: Clive Owen as Roland, Joaquin Phoenix as Eddie, Thandie Newton as Susannah, some unknown kid can play Jake, Russell Crowe as Randall Flagg and since we don’t really see The Crimson King until the end of the book, they can cast some unknown for that role.

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Another King’s epic novel is The Stand. Warner Bros. and CBS are teaming up to try to bring this one to the big screen finally. The story is about a super virus that wiped out most of the humans in the world and the confrontation between good vs. evil. The book is very complicated to explain, so if you would like to read more about it, please visit Wikipedia.

I don’t know how this book can translate into the big screen, so I don’t envy the screenwriter who’ll be hired to adapt it for the film version. A tv mini-series version came out in 1994 and it was decent but it didn’t capture the scope of what King had written in the book, probably because it was made for TV. But this time, apparently the two studios are planning to spend quite a bit of money on the project to make sure the film version stays as close to the book as possible and to make sure it’s the next big blockbuster. If they do it right, I have no doubt the movie can be a huge hit, but they have to get a director who can handle such a huge scale production. To be honest I don’t know which director can handle it, I think someone like Steven Spielberg or James Cameron can do it but they aren’t involved in the project.

So if you’re a fan of the books, are you excited to see these two potential blockbusters coming to the bring screen? Even if you’ve never read the books, are you looking forward to see these films?