If you’re a fan of Stephen King and movies, then you’re probably aware that King’s Dark Tower series is being turned into a movie starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. As you can imagine, Super Hubs and I are pretty pumped about this. As the few known casting details were released, we immediately began imagining characters that might appear in the film and who could portray them. Even though King has stated that the movie is not a straight adaptation of his books (who is Tirana, and how she is a female lead?), we tried to think of every major (or major-minor) character that shows up in the series and the actors or actresses worthy enough to bring them to life. There are some characters we couldn’t come to a consensus about, so when it comes to them, there will be multiple choices with SH and I defending our individual picks.
Anyway. This post was going to be hella long because there are a LOT of characters, and a lot of actors/actresses to consider, so we’re splitting it up into two. This is part one of our dream cast.
The Good(ish) Guys/Gals
(in no particular order)
Eddie is a twentysomething drug addict in 1980s New York. He has an older brother, Henry, whom he simultaneously worships, hates, and fears. Henry is the one who introduces Eddie to drugs, and the two get lost in that world. Though Henry winds up lost forever (and also murdered), Eddie is saved by Roland and becomes the strongest out of the ka-tet that Roland collects. Mr. Dean is stronger than he knows and a smart-ass to boot, which actually comes in handy quite a bit. He sees Roland as a father, even though he often hates him for his stoicism, and he considers his ka-mates to be his true family.
Nikkie’s Pick: Michael Mosley
I know Michael as 3XK, a seriously scary serial killer from ABC’s Castle (RIP) that appears in three separate seasons. I also know him as Johnny from FX’s Sirens (also RIP), a cocky EMT with abandonment issues. Though he’s got quite a few years on Eddie, I think he’s perfect for this role because he has the chops to pull off the range we see with this character—going from layabout drug addict to withdrawing to man on a mission to man in love, all while maintaining the smart-ass quality that truly defines him, is no easy feat. I think Mosley is the man to bring Eddie to life. Just age him up a little, and we’re good to go.
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Super Hubs’s Pick: Justin Long or Daniel Radcliffe
Okay stick with me here, I can feel you pushing back and screaming. Shut up. This is my list, not yours. Also I’m fragile. STOP YELLING AT ME!
Ahem…Of the two, I think Danny Rad would work best. We’ve seen him acting in such a wide range already. He can be funny, sarcastic, sad, angry, or any combination of them all at once. He has the biting sarcasm to be Eddie at his best (and worst) and the frail vulnerability to play him at his absolute lowest. Plus, he’s already gotten naked for a part before, which is a big part of Eddie’s early story. And he’s just so cute!
Justin Long is a stretch, I know. He’s not known for action, obviously. But he is funny, and I think his usual parts are actually very much in line with Eddie’s early character. It would be great to see him grow as a Gunslinger on screen as he sheds his comfort zone as an actor. It could work. Probably.
Susannah Odetta Holmes Dean
Susannah is a rich black woman from the 60s who lost most of her legs after she was pushed in front of an oncoming subway train. When she enters the series in Drawing of the Three, she is known as Odetta Holmes, who has suffered from a split personality ever since a brick was dropped on her head as a child. Her alter-ego, the violent and mad Detta Walker, has a tendency to steal and really, really hates white men. After Roland brings her to Mid-World and helps her come to terms with all the bad things that have happened to her, her personalities merge into Susannah, who maintains the best of both Odetta and Detta. While Susannah learns her strength as a gunslinger (because you don’t need legs to shoot a gun), she and Eddie fall in love, and she takes his last name. She also plays a pretty major role in the later half of the series when it comes to Mordred, the son of the great enemy the Crimson King.
Our Pick: Lupita N’yongo
This may seem a little obvious; Lupita’s career is taking off, so she’s on everyone’s list right now. But she’s also mostly doing voice work; here, she’d actually be running around (figuratively speaking), shooting guns, and showing the world that (black) ladies can get shit done. It would be interesting to see her bring Detta’s foul-mouthed rage to life, if they ever flashed back to Susannah’s life before Roland and the others, and though she has the opposite problem of Michael Mosley (being younger than the character she’s playing), there’s no reason why she wouldn’t be able to pull it off.
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Backup Pick from Nikkie: Aja Naomi King
You may recognize this actress as Michaela from ABC’s insane drama How to Get Away with Murder. I like her for this role because she’s not quite a high-profile actress, thus being in the movie could really push her career into the stratosphere. Additionally, she pulls off hysteric intensity on HTGAWM, and I think that’s a trait that could easily translate into the Detta personality. Again, she’s on the young side, but I assume they’re going to more evenly age Susannah and Eddie so that their romance is a little less May-December, so she could pull off late 20s or even 30.
Cuthbert was a member of Roland’s original ka-tet, back before the world began to move on. Cuthbert is basically Eddie’s predecessor: he is childish and flip, but he is also trustworthy and loyal. He’s smarter than he lets on, with a sharp memory and even sharper slingshot skills, and he carries around a rook’s skull that he calls “The Lookout.” His relationship with Roland can be tumultuous, as seen in Wizard and Glass when Roland begins to fall for Susan Delgado, and he may even have some unresolved feelings for his fearless leader (at least we think so), but at the end of the day, they always have each other’s backs.
Our Pick: Iwan Rheon
To all the Game of Thrones watchers who are losing their minds right now, no, we are not kidding around. Iwan Rheon, aka the deeply disturbed/disturbing Ramsay Bolton of GOT fame, is our top choice for Cuthbert. He’s got the look (dark hair, thin, good-looking), and we’ve seen him play out the sadist, which tends to be Cuthbert’s sense of humor. His face is super expressive, which is necessary to pull off the minutia of Cuthbert’s multifaceted personality. You can’t deny that he’s a good actor; he lives and breaths Ramsay when he’s portraying him on our favorite Sunday night obsession, and he would bring that into Cuthbert as well. We’re also assuming that if they flash back to the Wizard and Glass storyline, they will age everyone up, and he can pull off early 20s.
Alain is the final member of Roland’s original ka-tet. He’s a bit of a third wheel in that he is a quieter, more awkward character than Ro or Bert, but he is also the wisest. This is likely because, of the three of them, he is strongest in “the touch,” what they call psychic ability; this also makes him very similar to Jake (being portrayed by Tom Taylor in the movie), who exhibits the same ability, if not even to a higher degree. It takes a lot to make Alain angry, but when he gets there, he’s a powerhouse. He is also the most sensitive of the ka-tet, but that’s not such a bad thing.
Our Picks: Thomas Brodie Sangster or Avan Jogia
Neither of us can come to a concrete decision on which actor should play Alain because we like both for different reasons. Sangster we like because we’ve already seen him play the wise, psychic friend in his portrayal of Jojen Reed on Game of Thrones (and no, he’s not the last GOT player to appear on this list lol). There’s no question to his ability to pull off Alain. Jogia on the other hand, we have no idea what his background is. Apparently he was on Nickelodeon’s Victorious but has been in dramas like the TV movie A Girl Like Me and the based-on-a-true-story film I Am Michael*. The real reason we’re picking him, though, is because we feel like the original ka-tet could use some additional diversity. There’s no need for Young Roland to be the token black guy among his friends (on the off change it still counts as tokenism even when he’s the main character), so why not have Cuthbert or Alain be a non-white actor? Considering this is a bit of a lesser role, we don’t mind throwing in a bit of a newbie and seeing what he brings to the table.
*Fun fact: That movie is based off an article written by a professor that I (Nikkie) had during my first semester of grad school. Small world!
Susan was Roland’s first and only love. They meet when he and his original ka-tet are sent away from Gilead by Roland’s father for their protection. They come to Susan’s town of Hambry with aliases and the guise of being punished, and they find themselves in the midst of a conspiracy. Susan gets wrapped up in this because she is in the process of being sold by her hateful aunt to the town’s mayor as his mistress (his wife can’t have children, and this is a common practice) on the condition that she is a virgin. However, she falls in love with Roland and decides to run away from the life that has been laid out for her. She helps him and his friends defeat the in-town baddies, but unfortunately, she doesn’t make it out alive.Nikkie’s Picks: Elle Fanning or Molly Quinn
Let me first say that I just love the Fannings! Dakota is a bit too old for Susan, though, so I’m going with her little sister on this one. But I also see my girl Molly (aka Alexis from Castle) playing Susan as well. Both actresses have what it takes to be Roland’s first love, who is more than just a damsel-in-distress. She is an angry young woman who has been dealt a terrible hand at life. Before Roland’s arrival, she had resigned herself to doing her duty; when she sees a way out, though, she throws herself into it without looking back. It takes guts to do what Susan does, especially in the face of certain death, and I can see both Elle and Molly doing her a great justice on the silver screen.
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SH’s Pick: Sophie Turner
Oooooooh Sophie. I love you. Seriously, I think she’s seriously overlooked compared to the rest of her GoT castmates. Yeah, she plays a damsel for five seasons, but dammit she plays it well. And in her best moments, you can really feel the simmering anger beneath the shy Lady facade. And if there’s one thing that defines Susan, it’s simmering anger. Forced into a mistresshood against her will, forbidden from loving the man she wants to love, a horrible woman guiding her every move… Susan is angry, but she can’t do anything about it…at least until Roland shows up and gives her an outlet.
Plus, Sophie is goddamn fabulous.
Moses is Susannah’s godfather, though of course he knows her as Odetta. He is one of the founding members of the Tet Corporation, which is an important part in keeping our world’s version of the Tower (a red rose) intact. He never meets anyone of the ka-tet until 1999, when he is 100 years old, and Roland and Eddie must retrieve from him an item they had another Tet Corp. member use to convince Moses of forming the company in the first place (time travel!).
Our Pick: Phil LaMarr
We really have no explanation for this other than why not? He’s a cool dude, we enjoy him when he’s in things, and this part isn’t big, so it’d just be a fun little cameo.
Because of Stephen King’s affection for combining his stories into one huge tapestry, Father Callahan’s story originates in Salem’s Lot. After losing the battle against the vampires there, he traveled through the different iterations of the worlds and eventually begins killing vampires. He does this as much to alleviate his guilt from the events of Salem’s Lot as he does it in the memory of a friend he meets during his wandering who dies of AIDS after being infected by a lower type of vampire. Callahan commits suicide by jumping out a window after being captured by vampires, and he ends up in Mid-World. Series baddie Walter/Randall/whatever he’s going by at the time gives Callahan one of Merlin’s orbs, Black Thirteen, and it transports him to Calla Bryn Sturgis. He becomes like a secondary member of the new ka-tet, going so far as to give his life to save Jake in the final book.
Our Pick: Sean Bean
Picking Sean Bean for Father Callahan is less about him being in Game of Thrones and more about him always playing a guy who dies lol. I mean, as shocking as Ned’s death is in season one, can anyone REALLY be that shocked? If Sean Bean’s in anything, you can bet he’s probably going to die. But beyond that, he’s also just a perfect fit for Callahan because he can pull off the tormented yet righteous character. Callahan has seen a lot of wrong in his life, so much so that he’s struggled with his faith, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to help Ro and Co. succeed in their fight against darkness and the destruction of the Dark Tower. Who better than Bean?
Stanley “Sheemie” Ruiz
Sheemie first appears in Wizard and Glass. He is a mentally handicapped resident of Hambry who is often bullied by other residents (who should really know better because he’s a kid and they’re all grown-ass men). After Cuthbert rescues Sheemie from the baddies in town (the ones connected to the conspiracy), Sheemie follows the ka-tet around worshipfully. He even helps them rescue Susan and leaves town with the boys as they are making their escape. He returns to the series in the final book, when he is revealed to be one of the Breakers—people with psychic abilities whom the Crimson King has taken for prisoners in order for them to “break” the beams that hold the world together. Sheemie also has the ability to teleport himself and others, and he uses this power to help Roland and the others during one of the last legs of their journey to the Dark Tower.
Our Pick: Max Burkholder
This should really say “Nikkie’s pick” because I (Nikkie) am the one who knows this cutie. He played Max Braverman on the 2010 Parenthood TV series, the son of the Steve Martin character who is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Max’s portrayal of this complicated character felt spot-on, so there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he can pull off being Sheemie, provided that the writing of the character lends itself to realism and not exploitation.
This is Roland’s father. He is cuckolded by Walter/Marten/Randall/etc., his advisor, which leads to Roland taking his test of manhood early so that he may kill W/M/R/Etc. Stephen is a descendant of Arthur Eld, the great king of All-World, and the leader of Gilead and its gunslingers. Upon his death, Roland inherits his sandalwood-handled guns.
Our Pick: Dennis Haysbert
Could anyone be better to play Roland’s father than Haysbert? With that deep voice? That’s dad material right there! And not just any dad; a basically royal dad who is one of the last of his line. Playing a tough but loving father who is now fighting for the fate of the whole world should not be a problem for him.
(Update 05/04/2017: Ahahahahaha! We told you! WE TOLD YOU!)
Calvin is kind of a prick, but he’s an important prick haha. We first meet him in The Waste Lands, when Jake wanders into his bookstore. It is later discovered that he owns the vacant lot which contains the Tower-rose, and he is about to sell that plot to some baddies until Roland and Eddie convince him otherwise. This takes some time because he’s a bit of the jerk about the whole thing; they have to take some of his prized possessions—special editions of books—to get him to cooperate. He is one of the founding members of the Tet Corporation.
Our Pick: Benicio del Toro
This is SH talking for this choice because it was my idea. I’ll admit—at least 75 percent of the reason I chose him is because he plays “The Collector” in Guardians of the Galaxy. Sorry. Also, I just like Benicio del Toro a lot. He plays an asshole really well. But, like, an asshole you’d hang out with despite being pissed off by him. Which I think fits Calvin Tower pretty well. He’s a nice guy, deep down, but he’s an ass about it. He’s obsessed with his books, so obsessed that he’ll have a legitimate crisis about parting with one if it means saving every universe in existence. Plus, he and JK Simmons (see below) playing off of each other would be fantastic.
Aaron is a Jewish lawyer and Calvin Tower’s “best” (aka only) friend. He keeps him in line when he’s hedging on the promise to Roland, even drawing up the contract of sale, and he is the third founding member of the Tet Corporation. Aaron and Calvin save Father Callahan’s life at one point during his travels between worlds and whens. Aaron eventually succumbs to cancer.
Our Pick: JK Simmons
Man, who doesn’t like JK Simmons? He’s awesome! He’s funny, and it’s not hard to envision him as Tower’s moral center (who also likes to tell people to “go shit in the ocean” in Yiddish).
SH Note: Or we could get Johnny Depp to be Aaron and have a fun Fear and Loathing reunion. Just sayin’.
Cortland “Cort” Andrus
Cort is one of Roland’s gunslinging instructors as a child. He is the one Roland must defeat in his test of manhood, a prerequisite for becoming an official gunslinger. He was a rough teacher who often resorted to violence to weed out the weak, and Roland often employs his teachings when sharing the art of gunslinging with Eddie, Susannah, and Jake. Cort is a hard man who Roland never saw laugh, but his influence is without question.
Our Pick: Michael Rooker
Most recognizable (to us anyway) as Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy, Michael Rooker seems like he is the embodiment of Cort. He can be tough, he can be fair, and he just looks like he would enjoy beating the crap out of kids and calling it a lesson. He may exactly have the build of Cort, but he certainly gives off his essence.
Patrick ends up being the most important character when it comes to defeating the Crimson King. He is an artist who can draw reality, meaning whatever he puts on the page (or takes away from the page) becomes reality. He erases the cancer that Susannah picks up from their travels through radiated areas, and he draws her a door into an alternate universe so that she can be reunited with Eddie and Jake (both of whom have died at this point).
Our Pick: Summer Glau
We were about due for a gender-swapped character, so here she is. Even though Patrick appears in another one of King’s novels (Insomnia), is there really a REASON he needs to be a dude? No! Summer Glau is pretty awesome, and even though this would not at all be the kind of action-packed role we’re used to seeing her in, she could bring something to this role. So Patricia Danville it is! Or whatever name they would give her because it seems that the character’s unique ability would be enough to let viewers know who she is without the whole girl-version-of-guy-name thing.
So there you have it! Our long first half of Dark Tower dream-casting. We shall see you soon with the baddies list.
Oh, and you may be wondering, with so many characters from Roland’s past, why didn’t we cast someone to play young Roland? We tried, but we couldn’t find anyone who looked like they could be a believable young Idris Elba who also has the chops to play the brooding, trying-to-prove-himself, only-time-in-love young man that is Roland during those sections of Wizard and Glass. So use your imagination on that one.
May your TBR piles (dark) tower but never topple,
Nikkie and Super Hubs