Idris Elba

Cape Town - British actor Idris Elba jetted into Cape Town this week to film Stephen King's The Dark Tower, after reuniting with his ex-girlfriend Naiyana Garth at the Baftas.

Elba arrived in Cape Town on Tuesday, and began shooting the following day.

Shooting took place at Athlone Stadium and a factory in Epping. Security was tight and the crew reportedly face immediate dismissal if they’re caught taking selfies or posting pics from the shoot on social media.

Dark Tower director Nikolaj Arcel tweeted that the crew had been filming in Rawsonville earlier this month. In addition to some cryptic images, Arcel tweeted: “The people of #SouthAfrica are happy. They're laid-back, they love life, and very close to nature”

Actress Katheryn Winnick, who stars in the TV series Vikings, is also in Cape Town for the shoot. She posted a picture of herself on Instagram, with the caption: “Shooting underway for #DarkTower. Shhh..character still under wraps.”

The shoot, which began in mid-March, has seen the crew travel to Tankwa Karoo National Park and Blyde River, as well as the Cederberg and Rawsonville, before coming to Cape Town.

The South African leg of the shoot is expected to wrap in June, and additional filming will take place in New York City.

Elba, who starred as Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom, which was shot here 2012, was on the Bafta red carpet last Saturday with Garth, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his son Winston, who is nearly two.

MailOnline reported they “may be giving their romance another go”, as the former couple “looked cosy as they stepped out on the red carpet on Sunday night”.

King’s The Dark Tower series spans eight novels, assorted comic books and short stories, and is frequently referenced in his other novels.

The series tells the story of the fallen land of Mid-World, through the eyes of Roland Deschain, a sort of cowboy-knight also known as the Gunslinger. He’s on a quest to save his decaying world by reaching the tower that stands at the nexus point in time and space.

Elba plays Deschain, and Matthew McConaughey will play his mystical foe, a demonic figure known as the man in black, a sorcerer also trying to reach the tower and rule over its kingdoms.

The film, with which studio Sony intends to launch a franchise, will not adapt the plot of the first book, The Gunslinger, published in 1982, King told Entertainment Weekly.

“(The movie) starts in media res, in the middle of the story instead of at the beginning, which may upset some of the fans a little bit, but they’ll get behind it, because it is the story,” said King.

Director Arcel said: “A lot of it takes place in our day, in the modern world.”

The director is best known for the 2012 Danish film A Royal Affair and for co-writing the Swedish film adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Arcel told Entertainment Weekly it was “a no-brainer” to cast Elba as the gunslinger, despite his depiction in the book’s illustrations as a blue-eyed white man, and King agreed.

“I love it. I think he’s a terrific actor, one of the best working in the business now,” said King. But he said he had a different actor in mind when he started writing the books 46 years ago - almost three years before Elba was even born: “I visualised Clint Eastwood as Roland.”

The author hoped fans of the books would have no problem accepting a black man as Roland. “For me the character is still the character. It’s almost a Sergio Leone character, like the man with no name”, King said. “He can be white or black, it makes no difference to me. I think it opens all kinds of exciting possibilities for the backstory.”

The film is set for release in January next year.

Weekend Argus