Elba and McConaughey Talk The Dark Tower Characters

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

Thus began the first Dark Tower novel by Stephen King in 1982, and so too will begin the feature film adaptation when it hits theaters next year.

Entertainment Weekly has revealed the cover for their latest issue and it features none other than the stars of the film, Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey as The Gunslinger and the man in black (aka Walter o’Dim, aka Randall Flagg). Journey below to see the all-new photos from the film and to hear what the pair have to say about the movie.

“There’s a mystical element to him,” Elba tells the outlet. “He’s about 200 years old. He’s been around for a long time, and has a deep-rooted connection with the [supernatural] nature of the film. Roland’s completely tuned into that. When you meet him, he’s very much a stoic man, doesn’t want to talk. But when you get to know him, he really knows quite a bit about the world and his world’s history…When we meet Roland he’s a bit lost. He’s been walking around for a long time, so he definitely feels like a man who’s… coiled….Until he meets Jake.”

Jake Chambers, played by Tom Taylor in the film, is an important character in the mythology of The Dark Tower and the focal point of both Roland and the man in black’s plans in the feature film.

“He’s really pent up and releases his soul through [defending] the boy,” Elba added.

Jake lives in our reality (as opposed to the apocalyptic Mid-World that Roland hails from) and has the ability to “Shine,” something Stephen King fans should recognize immediately as the power Danny Torrance has in The Shining.

This power is why both Roland and Walter want Jake. Walter needs him to bring the titular tower crashing down (opening up a whole other can of worms for the entire multiverse) and Roland needs the tower preserved for his own journey.

One of the places we see McConaughey’s man in black wandering in the photos is The Dixie Pig, a hideaway for ne’er-do-wells and monsters of all kinds in our own world which also has a door to Mid-World.

“Well, he is a man, actually,” McConaughey says of the villain. “They wanted to go very human and grounded with this. Obviously there are mythical proportions of good and evil in Walter. But we didn’t want to go overly fantastic. That would drop the humanity. So Walter, for me, is a man who exposes hypocrisies.”

EW goes on to reveal how involved creator Stephen King has been in developing the film, with the man himself saying he made his own modifications to the script.

“I took a pen and cut Roland’s dialogue to the bone,” the author tells them. “The less he says the better off, and why not? Idris Elba can act with his face. He’s terrific at it. He projects that sense of combined menace and security. [Roland] is the Western hero, the strong, silent type: ‘Yep,’ ‘Nope,’ and ‘Draw.’”

Fans of The Dark Tower books have no doubt noticed that the film is missing two of its key characters in Eddie and Susannah Dean, and EW reveals they won’t be making the journey in the first film; however, should The Dark Tower be a success and a sequel follows, they will join the Ka-tet.

Director Nikolaj Arcel also confirmed what many had theorized about the film, that it’s actually a sequel to the book series and not a straight adaptation.

“The hardcore fans of The Dark Tower series will know that this is actually a sequel to the books in a way,” Arcel says. “It has a lot of the same elements, a lot of the same characters, but it is a different journey.”

Elba, McConaughey, and Taylor are joined in The Dark Tower by Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Neon Demon) as the film’s female lead, Tirana, and Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods) as Pimli, the right hand man of Flagg. The film also features Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, A Nightmare on Elm Street), Katheryn Winnick (Vikings) and Claudia Kiim (Avengers: Age of Ultron). 

The Dark Tower is scheduled for release on February 17, 2017.