Visionary director Denis Villeneuve is no stranger to complex, staggeringly visualized projects. From the drug war thriller SICARIO to the modern science fiction classic ARRIVAL, to the beautiful, bittersweet sequel BLADE RUNNER 2049, he has crafted vast worlds populated by multifaceted characters. And even with all of this under his belt, Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel "Dune" feels, maybe appropriately, like an accomplishment that is worlds beyond anything he has done before.
DUNE stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul, the young heir to a royal family that is put in charge of a dangerous desert planet where a substance called spice is being harvested for interstellar travel. Almost as soon as they land on this hostile world, Paul's family is flung into a skirmish involving warring houses, civil uprisings, and giant sandworms that could swallow a spaceship whole.
With an all-star cast that includes (but is not limited to) Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgård, and Charlotte Rampling, DUNE is a science fiction epic the likes of which we hardly get to see anymore. It demands to be watched on the largest screen possible, with the most ribcage-rattling sound system. It’s that kind of movie – full of eye-popping visual effects, a lush orchestral score by the legendary Hans Zimmer, and the kind of highly stylized but deeply emotional performances you could only get out of actors of this caliber.
You can imagine what a thrill it was to get to chat with Villeneuve and Chalamet about making this very special film. “From the start, I decided to do this adaptation, the first name that came into my mind was Timothée,” Villeneuve said about casting Chalamet in the role of Paul. Why? "He’s one of the most brilliant actors of his generation, by far. I needed somebody who could bring the complexity, all the layers to Paul’s character. And I wanted someone who had the necessary charisma. At the beginning, Paul is a boy struggling with his identity and later in the story becomes a messiah figure. You need someone with a rock star charisma.”
Chalamet, who was sitting right next to Villeneuve was noticeably uncomfortable. "I’m squirming over here," Chalamet protested. But still, Villeneuve went on: "He has an old soul. He’s a very wise and brilliant man. But it’s like this level of intelligence and wisdom and I wanted that depth. I thought it was very important for Paul. And he looks like he’s 14 years old. Timothy is Paul in many ways. I had no plan B. I only had Timothy in mind. When he said yes, it was a massive relief."
For Chalamet, it sounds like he still can’t quite believe that he’s a part of DUNE. "Just to get the call was thrilling. I’m still pinching myself to hear Denis say all that. It feels like I’ve pulled off the heist of the century or I’ve fooled someone completely," Chalamet said. Describing the rest of the cast he said, "I think every actor on this was already a huge star at the time but has really exploded, it was an abundance of riches." And it sounds like Chalamet is really excited for people to finally see the movie. "It’s been a slow drip since the end of the movie," Chalamet said. "There’s been a deep desire to get it out there. I have huge gratitude for this whole process." But still, Chalamet adds, "I hope we get to make another one." We hope that too.
Check out our video interview with Chalamet and Villeneuve:
And also watch our interview with Rebecca Ferguson:
DUNE is in theatres on October 22!
All images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.