During a recent interview, writer and producer Glen Mazzara spoke about his Dark Tower series that could have been.
Starring such talent as Idris Elba and Matthew Mcconaughey, and being adapted from a beloved fantasy series written by the great Stephen King, the 2017 Dark Tower film seemed to be on track for great things. However, it was a flop, raking in a measly $113,461,527. Not only did the movie fail to live up to its financial expectations, it failed to live up to the film that fans of King’s series of novels had long been waiting to see. The film discarded many elements of the book series lore and world-building in a failed attempt to make the film more appealing to the general movie going public.
The film was so universally despised by fans that it left the impression The Dark Tower series would never have a faithful live action adaptation. However, in a recent episode of the podcast The Kingcast, Glen Mazzara, of The Walking Dead fame, detailed his plans for the now scrapped Dark Tower adaptation on Amazon Prime. If you’re a fan of The Dark Tower this news will most likely come as a major bummer. Mazarra describes what would’ve been a multi-season epic, and as for this Dark Tower fan, it sounds like the series we fans have always wanted.
Mazarra tells the basic plot of the planned pilot as follows:
“The story of the pilot is basically Roland in the desert. The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed. In this version he’s chasing Marten because Marten was with Gabrielle [Roland’s mother] and he’s vowed his revenge. In the books, [Roland] gets his guns to kill Marten and then Marten sort of disappears from the narrative. So [Roland] chases Marten across the desert and ended up in Hambry. He meets Susan. In the pilot it’s the Feast of the Kissing Moon and she’s being presented to the mayor and she meets Roland on the road. Roland goes into Traveler’s Rest. He has the scene where the Big Coffin Hunters trip Sheemie and Roland gets into a classic western stand-off. The ka-tet catches up and we have Cuthbert use the slingshot and he takes out one of the Big Coffin Hunters. They go into the square and as they’re arguing, Roland explaining he’s there to find and kill Marten, Susan grabs him and they dance. They actually dance to a Flogging Molly tune, which I love. The Big Coffin Hunters come in and are chasing him through the square, but Roland sees Marten, so everything all collides in the end.”
After this outline of the pilot, Mazarra begins to speak on the outline of how he would approach adapting what is arguably King’s greatest work for the small screen:
“If Season One ended with the death of Susan… In Wizard and Glass very quickly you go from the death of Susan to the death of Gabrielle, [Roland’s] mother. I felt that I needed a season to give me real estate so that Gabrielle’s death didn’t step on Susan’s and that it felt like an escalation. Roland fails to save Susan, but he actually shoots and kills his mother. In the book Gabrielle is not really a detailed character in a way that, say, Susan is, or even Rhea is. Gabrielle is really not fleshed out. She just doesn’t have as many pages attributed to her. I love that character. The actress we had for her was Elaine Cassidy, a fantastic Irish actress, and she did a really great job. So for Season 2, the war with Farson was building. I was maybe going to use the shapeshifter story (from Wind Through the Keyhole) as part of season 2 and get to the death of Gabrielle and either the fall of Gilead there or the fall of Gilead would be the season three premiere. Very quickly there would be a last stand at Jericho Hill and by episode 3.03 or 3.04 I was going to have Roland stumble out into the desert, follow him into the desert and then I was going to do a time lapse so that maybe you actually age Roland and switch actors. Then you have a new Roland reset the show at the top of season three, then go into The Gunslinger and by the end of that season go into The Drawing of Three.”
It really sounds like this adaption of The Dark Tower could have been the version that fans of the novels have been longing for since the announcement of the 2017 film. It is clear that Mazzara had some excellent ideas as far as the pacing and overall outline of the show. He also seemed to have a lot of appreciation for the books the series was based on, saying “I had a rule with the writers that if something was really, really important that we were going to try to make canon work.” It seems to me that he has a lot of passion for the project, and it is a shame we will most likely never get to see it.