The upcoming Universal-led multi-platform, mega franchise launch of the adaptation of the seven novel strong “The Dark Tower” is going to be one monster of a project, using both film and television to tell the tale based on Stephen King's expansive world. And while director Ron Howard hasn't shied away from talking about a bevy of names mentioned for the lead role including Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman and Jon Hamm, it appears a new candidate and a fan favorite are apparently the frontrunners for the gig.
According to sources speaking to the NY Post, Javier Bardem is the frontrunner for Deschain, the gunslinger who searches for the titular castle which may or may not be the nexus of the universe, with Viggo Mortensen, running close behind. Word on the street is that given the "The Dark Tower" project will spread out over three films with a television series linking everything together, the role is one that agents are clamoring over for their clients. But that said, don't be surprised if those two names are strictly wishlist at this point, sitting at the top of a talent list that the studio and filmmakers eventually plan to reach out to. However, even if it is just a wishlist, it does perhaps indicate that Universal and co. are hoping to land a strong name to pull in the audience required to pull off what is certainly one of the most ambitious studio projects in a long time.
Akiva Goldsman (”Batman & Robin,” “I, Robot,” “I Am Legend”) will be writing the first film as well as the first season of the TV series, with Ron Howard directing the first feature film and first season of the upcoming show. It's uncertain at this point if Deschain will be required for both the movie and television counterpart, but we'd wager that considering he's the lead, it would be near impossible to do it without him. Which means that signing on the project will require a huge commitment from whoever takes it on, and while it's certainly nice to shoot for A-list talent, as we've said before, given the long haul nature and expense of the project we wouldn't be surprised if a smaller (and more budget friendly) name ends up landing the lead.
At any rate, an interesting development from a project that is sure to generate more news and rumors as production gets underway. The first film in the series is being prepped for a 2013 release date.