If you’re tired of always being late to the party, then heed my advice: stop what you’re doing and go read The Dark Tower, Stephen King’s seven-book (soon to be eight) magnum opus. Now. You’ll thank me in 2013 when the first in a trilogy of Ron Howard-helmed film adaptations hits theatres. Oh, and they’re also going to create a three-part TV miniseries to fill in the gaps after each film.

Yes, this is that epic.

If you’re not a Stephen King fan, don’t worry. This isn’t typical King fare. While there are definitely elements of the sort of horror we see in It and Misery splashed here and there throughout The Dark Tower, this tale is much more of the fantasy persuasion.

Set in a magical version of the American Old West, The Dark Tower follows grizzled, unemotional antihero Roland Deschain of Gilead as he wanders the earth in search of the Dark Tower, a mythical structure said to exist at the crossroads of all universes. The world is “moving on,” decaying and unstable, and it is Deschain’s belief that finding the Dark Tower – if it actually exists – will lead to a remedy. Last in a line of heralded gunslingers and a descendant of his world’s equivalent of King Arthur, the enigmatic Deschain’s knight-meets-cowboy feudal society has crumbled, leaving him to bear this responsibility alone.

Until, that is, he is joined by the people – and animal – that come to form his ka-tet, a group bound together by ka, or destiny. No journey would be complete without a rag-tag band of faithful companions, and fortunately for Deschain, he finds some formidable allies from a variety of whens and wheres to stand with him against those that would thwart his quest, including the ever-present  “man in black.”

With Oscar winner Javier Bardem having recently been chosen to portray the Gunslinger on screen (a choice to which I give a Deschain-style two-revolver salute), more cast announcements are likely to trickle in over the next several months. In light of this, I thought it might be fun to share – in as spoiler-free a manner as possible – who I’d personally love to see fill out the rest of the major roles.

Eddie Dean – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Junkie Eddie Dean, pulled into Deschain’s collapsing Mid-World from our world’s New York City, most definitely does not put the “chic” in “heroin chic.” A mere 21 years old when we first meet him, Eddie is a mess, to put it mildly, and must go through the hell of withdrawal – as well as a few other nightmarish situations – before evolving into anything resembling a worthy ka-tet member. I can’t think of anyone more equipped to tackle this complex character than Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, (500) Days of Summer). At 30, Gordon-Levitt still looks young enough to pass for 21, but has the depth and experience required to convincingly portray Eddie as he ages and matures throughout the series. Gordon-Levitt is an undeniably gifted actor, and he excels at balancing drama with humor: a necessary quality, given Eddie’s quick wit, which provides some of the only truly comic moments in The Dark Tower.

(Runner-up: Emile Hirsch)

Susannah Dean – Naomie Harris

If you took the strength of Venus Williams, the fierceness of Beyoncé, and the sheer craziness of Lady Gaga, you still wouldn’t come up with enough badass woman to match Susannah Dean. Legless, wheelchair-bound, and afflicted with multiple personality disorder, Susannah – another New Yorker – is a force to be reckoned with. My first choice for Susannah has always been Zoe Saldana, but given her involvement in the upcoming Star Trek and Avatar sequels, I highly doubt her schedule is free enough to allow for work in yet another ambitious franchise. So, I’ve decided to transfer my support to the beautiful Naomie Harris, who is rumored to actually be in contention for the part. Harris exudes intelligence, strength, and tenacity, and I can’t say I’d be any less than thrilled to see her take on the feistiest addition to Deschain’s ka-tet. She also has a rather impressive body of work (Pirates of the Caribbean, 28 Days Later), and there’s no doubt in my mind that she could handle both sides of Susannah’s split identity with ferocity and finesse.

(Runner-up: Rosario Dawson)

Jake Chambers – Nathan Gamble

Nathan Gamble is Jake Chambers. At least, he’s the spitting image of the Jake that I constantly envisioned while reading The Dark Tower. It’s almost eerie. Physically, Gamble is perfect, and watching him in interviews, you can see that he’s smart as a whip and beyond-his-years articulate, just like Jake, whose strategic way of thinking and surprisingly advanced gun skills prove valuable assets to Deschain and company while en route to the Tower. Unlike a lot of child actors who don’t have much in the way of meat on their résumés, Gamble has impressed in grittier films like The Hole, The Dark Knight, Mist, and Babel, and demonstrated his ability to stand out among older actors. Jake needs to be likable, fearless, and more than just a “cute kid,” and I think Gamble has the charisma and chutzpah to make it all work.

(Runner-up: Max Records)

Oy – The Magic of CGI

Not since Lassie – or, perhaps, the dire wolves in Game of Thrones – have we seen a creature companion more devoted to his master than Oy, Jake’s loyal friend and final member of the ka-tet. Oy is a billy-bumbler, a curly-tailed animal from Deschain’s world that looks something like a cross between a raccoon and a woodchuck. With an astonishing intellect and very limited speaking ability, Oy is more than just a “pet,” proving his worth in more than one heroic moment. Given that bill-bumblers don’t actually exist, I’m putting my faith in the magic of CGI to bring Oy to life.

(Runner-up: A well-trained coati)

The Man in Black – Crispin Glover

Deschain’s nemesis, the shape-shifting Man in Black, is a sorcerer with a preternatural influence over people and the “face of a human weasel.” He is evil personified and shrouded beneath a menacing smile, making for one of the scariest literary villains of all time. I’ve decided to ignore the Idris Elba buzz – though I wouldn’t be upset with that choice at all – and toss Cripsin Glover’s name into the ring. I know that some fans of The Dark Tower might find Glover too young for the part, but the Man in Black is ageless, people! We all know that Glover is a brilliant actor, and he’s played more than his fair share of baddies. But more than just sinister, the Man in Black needs to be creepy in that “killer clown” sort of way, which is something Glover is quite adept at.

(Runner-up: Willem Dafoe)