By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 10, 2011 at 2:32AM
You wouldn't know it from this week's milquetoast Vince Vaughn/Kevin James comedy "The Dilemma," but director Ron Howard, of all people, is about to embark on one of the most ambitious projects Hollywood has ever seen: an adaptation of Stephen King's mammoth seven-book fantasy opus "The Dark Tower," which will stretch across three big-screen features, broken up by two TV series which will all feature the same cast. The scope of the adaptation alone is an impressive enough feat, if it's seen through, but when taking into account the bonkers, meta-fictional nature of the source material, it's hard not to impressed by Howard's cojones, even if we're unconvinced that he's got the skills to pull it off.
The New York Post's Page Six gossip column were the first to mention names for the central role, Roland Deschain, with Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen said to be front-runners, and now the same site has mentioned another potential actor who could be coming on board. The site suggests that British actress Naomie Harris ("Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End") is in the running for the 'female lead' in Howard's project -- a role that we can only assume is that of Susannah Dean.
If you're not convinced by the out-of-the-box nature of "The Dark Tower," Dean should convince you -- born to a wealthy New York family as Odetta Holmes, the character develops a split personality after having a brick dropped on her head, and is later pushed in front of a subway, losing the use of her legs. When Deschain brings her into the world in which the series is mostly set, he blends their personalities, creating 'Susannah Dean.' No, we don't understand it either.
Nevertheless, from what we know about the character, Harris seems like a fantastic choice -- she's turned in a series of terrific performances since breaking through in 2002 in Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later," even if her Hollywood gigs have tended to be thankless roles in the likes of "Miami Vice" and "Street Kings." The role sounds like it'll require an enormous range, but fortunately Harris has just that.
Of course, it's all very tentative at this point -- particularly with the multi-year commitment that the project would require -- but if true, it suggests that Howard's going about his adaptation in the right way. With the first film set for a release on May 17, 2013, and filming likely to kick off towards the end of this year, it won't be too long before official word comes in either way.