The Dark Tower: Why Roland Doesn’t Wear a Hat in the Movie

While Idris Elba is a fine Roland Deschain, there's one thing missing from The Dark Tower's protagonist: his signature hat!

There are going to be a lot of questions on people’s minds regarding The Dark Tower in the next few days. Many of them will probably have to do with some of the creative decisions that forged this “sequel” to Stephen King’s beloved 8-book series. Some fans will wonder what’s next for Roland and Jake (we got some hints from King himself). But one question will trump all others for diehard fans: where the heck is Roland’s iconic hat?

In case you haven’t noticed, Idris Elba’s version of the character doesn’t wear a hat in the movie. None of the promotional materials depict him wearing one, and neither do the trailers. I watched the movie earlier this week at a screening and guess what? Still no hat. So where is it?

King addressed the elephant in the room during a press event I had the pleasure of attending. I’m sorry to write such a cliche line, but King’s answer might actually surprise you. The writer dropped some inside baseball knowledge about Hollywood and the Western genre that we weren’t expecting.

“It’s funny, isn’t it? [It’s a] trade secret,” King said. “In a lot of the pictures, not only is he white, he’s wearing a hat in most of those pictures. And I talked to the producers of the movie about that and they said that Western movies where the main character wears a hat don’t do well.”

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Even King chuckled at that bit of unexpected info: “And I said, ‘Really? Well, Denzel wore a hat all the way through The Magnificent Seven and that did pretty well at the box office. But they didn’t pay any attention to that.”

For anyone who’s interested, The Magnificent Seven remake made back all of its $90 million production budget, making a total of $162.4 million in the worldwide box office. 

Interestingly enough, there are some inconsistencies about whether Roland wore a hat throughout the book series to begin with. It’s stated early on in The Gunslinger (the first book) that Roland had lost his hat long ago, yet most of the illustrations in the books depict the character with a hat. It’s a weird little continuity hiccup that was probably made worse by the revised edition of the book that came out years later. It’s mentioned in Wolves of the Calla that he does in fact have a hat by that point. Some fans speculate that Roland picked up a new hat in the town of Tull before continuing on his journey. 

Either way, you could make the point that it would look kind of weird if Roland was wearing the complete cowboy get up while walking around New York City (the fish out of water scenes involving Roland in our world are actually the high point of the movie), but King doesn’t think so. He’s quick to make some fun of the Big Apple. 

“Have you been to New York lately? They actually have a guy in Times Square who’s called the Naked Cowboy.”

Yes, we’ve all seen him. He ran for Mayor of New York City and then for President. He apparently supports the Tea Party. 

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The Dark Tower is out on Friday, Aug. 4.

More news on The Dark Tower and Roland’s garments as we learn it!

*Main image illustration by Michael Whelan.

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