Could Idris Elba Do King’s Roland Deschain Justice?


With Stephen King’s The Dark Tower set for release in 2017, many rumors have been flying about for this long-time Hollywood hopeful, more notably around who would play lead character Roland Deschain of Gilead, King’s great gunslinger. Rumors have brought up names such as Russell Crowe and Javier Bardem, but as of late the one name that has seemed to stick more than others is Idris Elba’s. The idea of Elba playing Deschain has been met with mixed reviews from the undying King faithful, including a lot of negative ones.

Honestly, Elba is a great actor and yes, he could do Deschain justice. Reading the internet, though, a lot of people think otherwise because he’s black. Now, before anyone reading this dials up the American Civil Liberties Union, keep in mind that the fact that in the book Deschain’s skin color is something of a minor (more like tiny) plot point. Thing is, one of the members in Deschain’s group (his ka-tet) is a young black woman who marched against segregation. However, when she first appears she holds an angry, racist, alternate personality who calls Deschain and his partner Eddie Dean (who is also white), several racist slurs and epithets relating to the fact that they’re white.

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That changes through the course of the tale, but the point being, a lot of King’s faithful somehow spin the entire fate of the film upon that fact that, “Oh, Deschain needs to be white! Susannah needs to have a racist alter-ego at first! The whole film will be wrecked!” The argument is stupid, and those supporting the argument should feel stupid.

Those who have read The Dark Tower know that there’s more to the story that grips the readers and draws them into the tale. There’s Deschain’s lost love, Susan of Mejis. There’s his personal nemesis, Randall Flagg. There’s the ultimo hombre, the big baddie himself, The Crimson King. There’s the reemergence of Father Callahan of Salem’s Lot, and much more. There’s a reason that The Dark Tower, is King’s big epic, his own center of existence, his Lord of the Rings. So why in the bloody hell are supposed fans griping about whether or not Deschain is black or white? Does it matter?

I’m like many others when I say that if a movie or show is made after a book, then they should try to be as faithful to the subject matter as possible, with the exception of movies like Secret Window and The Mist. But I also know that with Nikolaj Arcel directing, then the movie is going to be good, damn whether Deschain is black or white. If there just has to be a touch of racism between Susannah and Roland, then have faith, my fellow faithful; they’ll figure something out.

This sort of reminds me of the backlash Michael Keaton got when he was tabbed to play Batman, or when Heath Ledger was tabbed to play The Joker later on. Huge backlash, purists griping, complaining, and moaning, people threatening to boycott the franchise. Once their respective Bat-films were released, audiences were awed by what they saw on the screen.

Has it ever occurred to those griping about Elba as Deschain that he could perhaps be the perfect gunslinger? That no other actor but Elba is good enough for the role? Purist fans are so quick to judge before seeing the final product, and they need to calm their buns. Don’t get angry until you see the final product. Then, and only then, will you have the right to gripe or not.

In other blunter, simpler words, shut up. In case you haven’t seen the news lately there’s already enough of a huge issue being made on matters of race. So would you kindly stop being so pedantic on a tiny plot point like a character’s skin color? Thanks, I’d appreciate that.