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By Skye Huntington

The Dark Tower is the first film adaptation of the wildly popular eight book series of prolific author Stephen King. It had been shopped to many studios for many years, and now with Ron Howard championing the project, the movie is now a reality. When fans of the series heard the movie run time was only 95 minutes there was some social media uproar. They didn’t consider the fact that the goal here is to make some sequels. King took to Twitter to assure fans: “It’s true The Dark Tower movie runs a clean 95 minutes. Like the first book in the series (224 pages), it’s all killer and no filler.”

STRIPLV got the chance to speak with the two stars of The Dark Tower and ask them about their experiences making this long-awaited release.

STRIPLV: How did you feel about taking on this role in The Dark Tower, and meeting the expectations of the fans of this very successful book series written by Stephen King?

ELBA: For me, it was like wait, for real, I was like this is Stephen King. I was like how do you take this series of books and turn them into a film? The truth is hearing from his fan base is really really helping. Positive for the film, positive for the casting. So I am really excited about showing them what we’ve done.

McCONAUGHEY: We knew that we were stepping into to something that already had its own DNA. At the same time, it was already built to succeed. People have been trying to tell the story the right way for years. We hope we did. So, we had momentum going into it.

STRIPLV: How did you both prepare for your roles in the film?

McCONAUGHEY: My guy is a good “yes guy,” as any good devil is. You know (chuckling) he gets you in the yes’s, not the no’s. I know I just said an excess of yes’s. (laughing)

ELBA: No I know what you are talking about man. (laughing)

McCONAUGHEY: Catch that fire and walk away whistling. So I did approach me from the villain, which I definitely am. Walter (his character) believes he is enlightening people. So, is he doing that in an evil way? Sure. Is he doing that by exposing people’s hypocrisy? Sure. Is he doing it with torment? This relationship that Walter has with Gun Slinger (motioning to Elba), it’s a sick little love story. (Speaking to Elba) He wants you to stay alive, and he wants you to get close. He wants you to still fight back, but don’t get fully reloaded; you know what I mean? For me, that’s how I approached that.

ELBA: For me when you have characters that are this rich and have so much for you to lean back into, you just have to approach it with honesty, integrity, and decipher what is going to make this character live onscreen. In my case, there was a lot of actual physical preparation. I worked with the last of a long line of body guards that use guns. I had to learn how to do that really well. But at the same time, my character is equally as tormented and shares a history with the man in black (pointing to McConaughey).

STRIPLV: Can you tell us about the central conflict of the movie and a little about the Dark Tower Mythos?

McCONAUGHEY: Good versus evil. Of mythic proportions. We’ve been chasing each other over deserts for hundreds of centuries, if not thousands of years. There is this tower that is like the vortex of the universe. He (Elba) wants to fight to keep it up. Because if it falls apart all hell breaks loose. I’m working to bring it down. What brings it down? Purity, almost innocence. Which brings in our youth, and our child who has the shine the sort of pure concentration to do so. That’s what can bring the tower down. And that’s what I want to do. I want the chaos. I want to unleash the lashes and the fangs. And let it all be chaos.

ELBA: When the audience joins the story in this film. This has been going on; this is a 900-year war. I’m the last guy standing trying to protect the tower. And the man in black. No disrespect, but the crimson king is the man. And the man in black works for the crimson. And he’s like, I’m working for the crimson I’m going to get as much purity as I can, and I am going to get that tower down for you, even though we’ve been doing this for 900 years. And he finds one kid whose purity is so good so strong that he makes a bee line for him. And that kid makes a bee line for my character. And so we all, for the first time in many years, the gun slinger and the man in black meet up.

STRIPLV: How did you both train for the battles scenes?

ELBA: There was a lot of muscle training to try and make it look as fluid as possible. The guns are really long and heavy, so I really did have to do a lot of training. Shooting the six shooters is a sport and how quickly can you reload them. There are guys that can do it really quickly. That was the basis of my training in the very beginning. But of course, there was a certain amount of movie magic that happened to make it look that slick. It was really fun.

McCONAUGHEY: You said earlier that you were feeling very agile. You were off your feet on your feet, somersaults, head over heels. (laughing)

ELBA: I really looked forward to doing all that.

STRIPLV: How did you convey what the man in black’s power was?

McCONAUGHEY: The hardest part for me, which I trained for and hope I pulled off, was the shape shifting. You know being here and just showing up in a different place. I’m still working on that.

ELBA: Yeah right. (laughing)

McCONAUGHEY: No, it’s just that my part is very different than Idris’s is. The man in black rarely ever breaks a sweat. It was all with ease. And the only time that I was really in the ring was when we come together at the end. When does the 

man in black actually break a sweat? It’s at the very end where we come together for the ultimate confrontation. But along the way I just dancing through rain drops picking up things along the way. With a grin and a kiss.

STRIPLV: What was it like working together?

ELBA: When he is working he doesn’t like to party too much I suppose.

McCONAUGHEY: (laughing) It’s not like that. On school nights I head straight home.

ELBA: What I did learn about him. When I actually got the chance to hang out with the man and just talk. He is super engaging, super, super, real. Real collaborative process. It was really beautiful to do that. You suspect that if a man doesn’t want to fraternize with the other guys too much that he is going to be closed off. But Matthew is really warm, and open, and really good to work with.

McCONAUGHEY: Did you know that he has an undefeated Muay Thai career? This is true. Undefeated. Never been beaten. Fact. Undefeated. Period. There is no other way to end that am I right?

ELBA: (laughing) Yeah I am going to be on the card for the second MacGregor fight.

McCONAUGHEY: They are going to be calling you soon. (Elba laughs again)