The Dark Tower showrunner details plans for scrapped Amazon series
There was a time, not unlike one of those alternate realities Stephen King often writes about, when The Walking Dead's Glen Mazzara developed a TV series adaptation of The Dark Tower, King's series of Western-meets-fantasy novels. A pilot was shot for Amazon, but the streaming giant made it official in January that it would not move forward with the planned drama. Now that there's some distance between then and now, Mazzara has opened up about all the plans for what could've been.
Mazzara revealed details on his take and the unaired pilot during a recent appearance on The Kingcast, a podcast about King's books and cinematic adaptations. The producer and writer started developing his idea in March 2017, when there was a possibility of making the show a companion to the movie version starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. When plans for sequels fell through due to poor box office turnout, Mazzara formed a new plan.
"The story of the pilot is basically Roland in the desert. 'The Man in Black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed,'" he said, referencing the famous opening line of King's The Gunslinger, the first book in the series. "In this version, he's chasing Marten [a.k.a. the Man in Black] because Marten was with Gabrielle [Roland's mother] and he's vowed his revenge."
The Dark Tower books (and accompanying tie-in materials) center on this cat-and-mouse game between Roland, a wandering gunslinger from the realm of Mid-World, and the nefarious sorcerer who goes by many names, including Marten. The series begins like the movie adaptation, following an older version of Roland. But Mazzara was set on beginning with material from book 4, Wizard and Glass, which tracks a younger Roland. On the podcast, Mazzara confirmed that the pilot he shot with actors Sam Strike (as Roland) and Jasper Pääkkönen (as Marten) would bring the Gunslinger to Hambry and the follow the events around the character Susan, who was played by Irish actress Elaine Cassidy.
(Spoiler warning from the books!) "In Wizard and Glass, very quickly you go from the death of Susan to the death of Gabrielle, [Roland's] mother," Mazzara explained. "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."
That would've been the season 1 arc, followed by a second season delving into material based on King's eighth Dark Tower novel, Wind Through the Keyhole. "Very quickly, there would be a last stand at Jericho Hill and by [season 3, episode 3] or [season 3, episode 4], 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," he continued. "Then you have a new Roland reset the show at the top of season 3, then go into The Gunslinger and by the end of that season go into [book 2] The Drawing of the Three."
According to a Deadline report from earlier this year, Amazon decided to pass on The Dark Tower because executives didn't feel it was on the same level as the planned Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time series. Mazzara tweeted at the time, "Fingers crossed we get another opportunity elsewhere." Perhaps listening to Mazarra's ideas will inspire some executive somewhere.
Listen to the full Kingcast with Mazzara here.