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Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey: The Dark Tower Rivals

Aug 02, 2017

By: Lynn Barker

It took a long time to bring Stephen King’s best seller Sci Fi/Fantasy books in The Dark Tower series to cinema life. The huge, 8-novel tale had to be condensed down to basics; good (Gunslinger Roland Deschain) and evil (The Man in Black/Walter).

Good and Evil face to faceGood and Evil face to faceCourtesy of Sony Pictures

The film had to make changes from the books and is basically a sequel but briefly, Roland Deschain (the Gunslinger) is on a quest to reach the "Dark Tower" that resides in a parallel End-World and he must reach the nexus point between time and space that he hopes will save all existence from extinction. But with various monsters and a vicious sorcerer named Walter, the Man in Black, hot on his trail, his quest will be difficult and exciting to complete.

Gunslinger on his quest to the TowerGunslinger on his quest to the TowerCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Actor Idris Elba (Gunslinger) has provided many voices for animated films. He was in Finding DoryZootopia and was the voice of the formidable tiger in the live-action The Jungle Book as well as playing Heimdall in the Thor movies and Avengers: Age of Ultron. He was villain Krall in Star Trek: Beyond.  Matthew McConaughey (Man in Black/Walter) has provided voices for Kubo and the Two Strings and Sing and played the lead astronaut in Interstellar. He has a ton of more “adult” films to his credit.

Idris Elba as Gunslinger with the young boy he protectsIdris Elba as Gunslinger with the young boy he protectsCourtesy of Sony Pictures

These two sat down for interviews recently and we can tell they are buds. Check it out.

Q: There are a lot of fans of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” book series. Were you concerned about pleasing them?

  • Idris: For me it was a wait for a writer like Stephen King and especially this series of books, I was like “How do you turn this series of books into a film?” But the truth is the reaction from his fanbase has been really, really healthy, really good, positive for the film, positive for the casting so I’m really excited about showing them what we’ve done.
  • Matthew: Yeah, I knew we were stepping into something that already had its DNA. At the same time, it was already built to succeed. It was clear. People have been trying to tell this story the right way for years. We hope we did. We had good momentum going into it.

People bow in fear when the Man in Black passesPeople bow in fear when the Man in Black passesCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Can you talk about your characters and how you prepared for your roles?

  • Matthew: My guy (The Man in Black) is a “yes” guy, as any good devil is. He gets you on the yesses, not the nos, the excess of yesses. But, approaching it, if I’m the villain which I definitely am, Walter (Padick, the name this devil is using) believes he’s enlightening people. Is he doing that in an evil way? Sure. Is he doing that by exposing people’s hypocrisies? Sure. He’s doing it by torment. But this relationship that Walter has with The Gunslinger is partially a sick little love story. I want him to stay alive. I want him to get close. I want him to steal a fight back but not get fully reloaded of course.
  • Idris: I think when you have characters that are this rich, that have so much for you to lean back into, whatever your approach is (you do it) with honesty, integrity and really decipher what’s going to make this character live on screen. In my case, there was a lot of physical preparation. He’s the last in the line of a set of phenomenal, dedicated security guys that use guns so I had to learn to do that really well. But my character is equally as tormented and has as much history as The Man in Black. We share a history.

Matthew as The Man in BlackMatthew as The Man in BlackCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Idris and Matthew at the interviewIdris and Matthew at the interviewCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: What’s the central conflict of “The Dark Tower” series of books?

  • Matthew: Good versus evil with mythic proportions. He chases me across the desert for hundreds of centuries. There’s a tower that’s like the vortex of the universe. Gunslinger wants to fight to keep it up because if it falls apart, all hell breaks loose and I’m working to bring it down. What brings it down? Purity, innocence which brings in a youth (a young boy) who has the “shine”. That sort of pure concentration is what can bring the tower down which is what I want to do because I want the chaos. I want the lashes and the fangs.
  • Idris: When the audience joins the story in this film, this is a 900-year war and I’m the last guy standing, trying to protect the tower. The Man in Black is working for The Crimson King (who is like Satan). The Man in Black is going to get purity and bring that tower down for him. He finds one kid whose purity is so good, so strong so he makes a beeline for him and the kid makes a beeline for my character. So, for the first time in many, many years, the Man in Black and the Gunslinger meet up.

Two fisted gun furyTwo fisted gun furyCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: So how did you two train for the stunts and action?

  • Idris: There was a lot of muscle-memory training to try and make the fights look as fluid as possible. The guns are really long and heavy so I had to do a lot of training. Using a six-shooter is a sport and (that involves) how quickly you can reload them. There are guys who do that really quickly. That was the basis of my training in the beginning but there’s a certain amount of movie magic that happens to make it look that slick but when you see the physical running around and pointing and shooting, that was all part of the training and it was a lot of fun!
  • Matthew: He’s a really agile hero. He’s on his feet, off his feet, somersaults, head over heels….
  • Idris: I really looked forward to doing that.
  • Matthew: The toughest training for me and I hope I pulled it off, was the shape-shifting; being over here and showing up at another place. I think I’m still working on that (he’s kidding)…..no my role is very different than Idris’s. The Man in Black rarely even breaks a sweat. It was all with ease. The only time I was ever really “in the ring” is when we come together at the end for the ultimate confrontation. Before that, I’m dancing through the raindrops picking things off with a grin and a kiss…having fun.

Gunslinger makes his way to the TowerGunslinger makes his way to the TowerCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Man in Black works his evil magicMan in Black works his evil magicCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: So I gather you two got along working together? What was that like?

  • Idris: Well, when he’s working he doesn’t like to party too much I suppose.
  • Matthew: (laughing) No I don’t. On school nights, I go straight home.
  • Idris: So what I learned about him when we did just get to hang out and talk (is that he’s) super engaging, super real, a real collaborative process. It was great to do that. You suspect that if a guy doesn’t like to fraternize with the other guys too much (on set), he’s going to be closed off but Matthew was really open and warm and really good to work with.
  • Matthew: Did you know that he has an undefeated Muay Thai (martial art) career? Never been beaten. Never.
  • Idris: It’s true. You’ve set me up now.  

The Dark Towers Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba PostersThe Dark Towers Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba PostersCourtesy of Sony Pictures

See The Dark Tower Friday, August 4th!


Have Your Say

Have you read any of “The Dark Tower” books? If not, are you into epic tales of good vs. evil, gunslingers vs. devils? We ‘d love your comment below.