As the film version of The Dark Tower finally takes shape, we are beginning to get some interesting insights from the actors themselves. Earlier today, Idris Elba elucidated his feelings about the hero Roland; now, we have Matthew McConaughey doing the same for his villainous character Walter, a.k.a The Man in Black.
But is Walter really a straight villain, per se? Not according to McConaughey, who views the character with more complexity than that:
“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.”
That’s an interesting perspective, to be sure, and a good one to hear. McConaughey is obviously playing Walter as a human being rather than a straight-forward representative of evil. That being said, McConaughey also admits that he views Walter as something like the Devil:
“You know, he’s not literally the Devil,” says McConaughey, “but I sure as hell think about him like the Devil. I think like the Devil would.”
It does bear comment that satanic characters are very rarely represented as pure, unadulterated evil; Lucifer himself is something of a sympathetic figure all the way back to Milton’s Paradise Lost. And like Lucifer, Walter has an admiration and a strong need for his adversary Roland, as McConaughey elucidates:
“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.”
“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.”
McConaughey’s character serves The Crimson King, an “insane, god-like entity” who will rule the chaos brought about by The Man in Black shattering the Dark Tower. But first Walter has to find Jake (Tom Taylor), a boy who has a power called “The Shine” (this is a Stephen King novel, remember?) that can be harnessed against the Dark Tower. McConaughey seems to delight in that aspect of the story as well:
“One, this is what I need to get the job done. Two, it’s a field trip for me. I haven’t been down there in a long time. The Devil likes New York. Let’s go sing and dance and do some detective work and find the boy with The Shine and bring him back and use him!”
While none of this is going to tell us a great deal about The Dark Tower‘s plot, it is heartening to note that McConaughey has such strong, complex feelings about the character he’s playing. Along with Elba’s equally incisive feelings about Roland, we can hope that this bodes well for the production.
The Dark Tower comes to theaters on February 17, 2017.