Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After Javier Bardem’s terrifying Oscar-winning turn as the assassin in No Country For Old Men, is there any doubt he’d fit as the gunslinger Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower, the mammoth adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that’ll span three movies and a limited run TV series in between?

I’m told that Bardem has officially been offered the lead role by director Ron Howard and Universal Pictures. While formal negotiations haven’t yet begun, there’s a high level of enthusiasm internally that they’ve got their cowboy. Akiva Goldsman has scripted the first movie, and will write the TV component as well. Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer is producing with Goldsman and the author. Universal is financing and distributing the films, and NBC Universal Television Entertainment is backing the TV component, which will either be a limited run series or a miniseries.

It has been a heady week for Bardem. He received a Best Actor nomination for his performance as a terminally ill street hustler in the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Biutiful, and Bardem and Penelope Cruz just welcomed their first son into the world. Since Deadline first revealed that King, Goldsman, Howard and Grazer were joining forces on the ambitious project that would tell the story on multiple platforms, speculation has been rampant over who’d play the lead role. Bardem has been mentioned, as has Viggo Mortensen and Christian Bale. Deschain is the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers, and humanity’s last hope to save a civilization that will fall unless he finds the Dark Tower. At the time, Howard and Goldsman told me they saw the trilogy as their answer to the Peter Jackson-directed adaptation of JRR  Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Instead of Middle Earth, the venue has an old West feel, which Goldsman described at the time as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone.”

Bardem just wrapped the untitled next feature by Terrence Malick.

Howard plans at this point to direct the initial film as well as the TV component that will create a bridge to the second feature. The plan calls for the original actors to headline the TV version as well. The second film will pick up where the first left off. That would be followed by a TV installment  that would be a prequel that introduces Deschain as a young man. The third film brings back the original cast once again return and complete the screen trilogy. So if Bardem closes a deal, he’ll likely appear in all three films and that first TV stint. Imagine’s Erica Huggins will be executive producer with Kerry Foster of Weed Road. Bardem’s repped by WME.

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