Coverage of the big-screen adaptation of Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower doesn’t just stop at Idris Elba. Where there is a hero, there must also be a villain, and the villain of Nikolaj Arcel‘s film is known as Walter or The Man In Black, and is played by Matthew McConaughey
Below is the first look at McConaughey in the film, along the actor’s thoughts on the character from his interview with EW for their cover story. The actor speaks as though the antagonist really isn’t a villain, but rather someone who is sent who “exposes hypocrisies.” But he also gets into the film’s mystical aspects.
Based on most descriptions, it is easy to think that Walter, otherwise known as “The Man In Black,” is the embodiment of the Devil. However, McConaughey offers an alternative description. “You know, he’s not literally the Devil, but I sure as hell think about him like the Devil. I think like the Devil would.” To support his explanation, the actor then refers to a few Black Sabbath lyrics (from the song “N.I.B.”): “Follow me now / and you will not regret / leaving the life you led / before we met.”
In fact, McConaughey doesn’t see Walter as much of a villain, but recognizes that he still is a bad man:
“Well, he is a man, actually,” McConaughey says during a break between scenes, sitting on a ruined couch on the rooftop of an abandoned shopping center in Cape Town, South Africa. “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.”
The actor even goes deeper to explain how Walter is probably is a character who gets a bad rep for being a villain, and offers this quote that tells us we may just have the wrong impression about him:
“I revere him,” the actor says. “He’s really the only true adversary I have. I expose hypocrisies, and he’s the closest to pure there is. It’s his persistent, resilience to be good and altruistic. He’s very precious to me. I almost don’t want to see him go.”
Now the film also has mystical aspects woven into it. Just like the novel, the film will expand on the multiple genres that are explored, and the actor briefly talks about that and how his character will use it as a method to motivate Idris Elba’s Roland:
“So many times I’m just pumping him up, through sorcery, almost like the man in the corner of the ring for a boxer,” McConaughey says, breaking into a whisper: “’Come on … you can do this … stay in the game,’ because I want to keep him, I want to keep his vengeance to find me. I want to keep that very vital, you know? My want, my need, my mission is to bring down the Tower. My love, my adoration, my muse, my shadow, is Roland.”
Having never read the novels, it is easy to see why this would be nearly impossible to adapt. Based on what I have heard about them, these novels explore many genres and themes, and just like any other book series, they have their own special set of rules. Plus, with this being an adaptation, fans of the novel are surely keeping a close eye on any changes to their beloved eight-novel series. But the way that McConaughey and Elba speak about it, it seems as though the film adaptation is in the right hands with the right actors playing the right roles.
And just like we got our first look at Elba as Roland in the previous Dark Tower post, we are getting our first look at McConaughey as Walter. You can read the full interview over at EW.
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel, and starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Fran Kranz, Jackie Earle Haley, Abbey Lee, and Kathryn Wiggins, The Dark Tower opens in theaters on February 17, 2017.