Denis Villeneuve is attempting the impossible. David Lynch couldn’t do it. Alejandro Jodorowsky tried and failed. John Harrison made a miniseries version of it for television. Now, it’s up to the director of Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 to make a successful adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel, Dune.
He’s certainly off to a good start. We already know that Villeneuve, along with co-screenwriter Eric Roth, plan to split the source material into at least two films, which gives them the advantage of letting the ambitious, massive story breathe, instead of cramming it into one bloated feature. We also know he’s assembled an incredible A-list cast, which continues to get more and more impressive seemingly every day.
If you’re unfamiliar with the source material, here’s some further reading about the production history, the plot, and the story’s cinematic history. But in this post, I’m going to break down the casting announcements. Here’s everyone who has been cast so far in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, along with information about the characters they’re playing.
Timotheé Chalamet as Paul Atreides
According to Deadline, the Call Me By Your Name and Beautiful Boy actor will play our hero, Paul, the heir of House Atreides. Paul is raised in his mother’s Bene Gesserit religion and trained in martial arts and weaponry. In Dune, House Atreides own a desert planet named Arrakis, which is known for mining spice melange, a drug that enhances psychic abilities and allows hyperspace travel, among other things. After his family’s inheritance is stolen, Paul leads a revolution against the Harkonnen intruders to reclaim their legacy. Kyle MacLachlan played the role in Lynch’s version.
Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides
Poe Dameron himself is allegedly tapped to play Paul’s father, Leto, according to Variety. Duke Leto Atreides is a Caladan native who leaves his home planet to rule Arrakis. Though beloved by the people of Arrakis, Leto is eventually betrayed by the Padishah Emperor and invaded by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, which inspires Paul’s revolution.
Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica
Wife of Leto and mother of Paul, Jessica was raised by the Bene Gesserit, who trained her as a mate for Leto, meant to provide him a daughter. The relationship turned into genuine love, and Paul was born against orders. After House Atreides is betrayed on Arrakis, Lady Jessica inspires her son to fight back against House Harkonnen. First reported by Variety, the Mission: Impossible – Fallout actress is in talks for the role.
Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
The Swedish actor is set to play the film’s main villain, the traitorous head of House Harkonnen, according to The Hollywood Reporter. His longstanding rivalry with House Atreides leads the intrusion of Arrakis. Unlike Leto, Baron Harkonnen is a cruel and manipulative leader, prone to torture and blackmail. He is morbidly obese, with suspenders strapped to his flesh to help him walk.
Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Mohiam
THR also reported iconic English actress Rampling will play Gaius Helen Mohiam, a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother. Having raised and trained Lady Jessica in her childhood, she tests young Paul Atreides; she’s dubious of his existence but curious about his abilities. Described as an “old crone,” she is described as a thin woman dressed in long black robes.
Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck
The Avengers: Infinity War actor will tackle the part of Gurney Halleck, Paul’s weapons teacher and chief officer of Duke Leto. He later becomes a spice melange smuggler. Halleck was played by Patrick Stewart in Lynch’s film. Variety broke the news of Brolin’s casting..
Dave Bautista as Glossu ‘Beast’ Rabban
After an impressive, albeit brief, turn in Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, Bautista is re-teaming with the director, according to a Variety exclusive. Bautista will play the nephew of Baron Harkonnen, who earns his nickname “Beast” after killing his own father. Rabban is as sadistic as his uncle and is tasked with ruling the planet Arrakis. Locals of the desert world, known as the Fremen, call Rabban by the nicknames “Demon Ruler” and “King Cobra” because of his viciousness.
Javier Bardem as Stilgar
Though his official role has yet to be confirmed, Variety reported that the Spanish actor is allegedly playing Stilgar, leader of the Sietch Tabr tribe of Fremen. Stilgar protects Paul and his mother after the Harkonnen invasion, becoming an ally to House Arteides.
Zendaya as Chani
According to Variety, the singer/actress is in talks to play Chani, a Fremen woman in charge of tending to Paul after the Harkonnen invasion of Arrakis. The two fall in love as Paul rises to power among the Fremen tribes and leads them in the retaliation against House Harkonnen.
Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho
Another superhero is in talks to join Dune, THR reports. Aquaman and Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa will play Duncan Idaho, a swordsmaster who is fiercely loyal to House Atreides. A fan favorite, Duncan Idaho is also the only character to appear in all of Herbert’s Dune books. So, should Villeneuve’s movie take off, Momoa could be around for a sequel series.
David Dastmalchian as Piter de Vries
According to Deadline, The Dark Knight actor will play a Mentat, or a human who is trained to perform mental functions similar to that of a computer. de Vries is loyal to Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and also addicted to spice melange, which in the book has reverted his eyes to a deep blue color. He was played by Brad Dourif in the 1984 film.
Images: Universal Pictures
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