This week we received our first glimpse of Timothée Chalamet from Dune, the much anticipated adaptation of the iconic science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. In it, an aristocratic family from the lush and verdant world of Caladan are appointed governors of Arrakis, the planet known as Dune. A world of sand, it is the home of a treasured spice, melange, which fuels much of interstellar economy.
In our first look of Chalamet as Paul, he’s dressed in a black overcoat and leather gloves while ships arrive in the distance to take him and his family to Arrakis. The film is being directed by Denis Villeneuve, the French-Canadian filmmaker whose 2015 narco-thriller, Sicario, brought him Hollywood footing. Since then he’s directed bold sci-fi pictures like Arrival and Blade Runner 2049.
Dune has been adapted before. In 1984, a Dune movie arrived hot on the heels of science fantasy successes like Return of the Jedi and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Directed by iconic weirdo David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks), creative clashes with producers led to a release cut that was negatively received. It’s a certified cult classic, but that’s mostly due to Lynch than the novel.
Sixteen years later, the SyFy channel released a miniseries starring Alec Newman that was more faithful in a literal sense, but kept critics unimpressed. A miniseries based on the sequel novels, Children of Dune followed in 2003, starring a young James McAvoy as Leto II Atreides, the boy who would be god emperor. Villeneuve hopes to outdo them all with a more definitive take on the material.
Dune was originally scheduled for December 18, 2020 and although the COVID-19 pandemic has displaced the release schedules for most big films, Villeneuve and Legendary Pictures remain firm on the release date. Here are your stars for Dune and the various characters they play.
Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides
Who is Paul Atreides? An unlikely savior, Paul Atreides thinks the path before him is set. As the son of a duke, Paul believes his future lies in leading men and thus looks to his father to learn what it means to be inspire. Paul’s “hero’s journey” begins as a wide-eyed newcomer to Arrakis but eventually finds a place among its native Fremen.
Why he’s the perfect choice: Chalamet is best known for his Oscar-nominated turn in 2017’s Call Me By Your Name. In that film, he demonstrated a capacity for internalization, secrecy and restraint, qualities required of the character. Chalamet also possesses a mesmerizing versatility in playing irreverent and impulsive characters. He’ll be picking up the role from Kyle MacLachlan who played the character in the 1984 film.
Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides
Who is Duke Leto Atreides? The noble patriarch of the House Atreides, Leto has uprooted his family from the planet of Caladan in order to assume stewardship of the planet Arrakis. A kind-hearted but unwitting pawn in the larger assembly of noble houses playing games of thrones. Leto cannot refuse his new appointment but suspects treachery on the part of the Emperor.
Why he’s the perfect choice: Isaac is internationally recognized for his part in the Star Wars sequel trilogy but it’s 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis that is considered his breakout role. There, he demonstrated qualities of resilience balanced by easygoing charm, which should make for an interesting more relatable take on Leto. Isaac inherits the role from Jurgen Prochnow, who played Leto as an intense, stern figure in the 1984 film.
Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica
Who is Lady Jessica? The official concubine of Duke Leto and mother to Paul, Jessica is no mere show royal. Jessica is a highly trained discipline of the Bene Gesserit, a mysterious sisterhood that has charted the evolutionary future of mankind for centuries. Jessica is dutiful but is known for insubordination against the Bene Gesserit.
Why she’s the perfect choice: Ferguson is a compelling presence in the on-going Mission: Impossible film series, where she plays rogue Syndicate operative Ilsa Faust. Ferguson possesses a winsome mystery and an enigmatic demeanor that is well suited to Jessica, a woman whose calm hides troubled thoughts and profound complication. In the 1984 film, Lady Jessica was portrayed by Francesca Annis.
Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Who is Baron Vladimir Harkonnen? A political rival of the Atreides, Vladimir served as governor of Arrakis until the appointment of Leto to the post. Much can be said about the Baron: he’s decadent, cruel and deprave. He has a propensity for torture, blackmail and given to hedonism.
Why he’s the perfect choice: As Harkonnen, we can expect Skarsgård to bring the same maniacal energy from his roles in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Avengers.
Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban
Who is Glossu Rabban? The brutal nephew of Vladimir Harkonnen, Glossu Rabban is known by the name of ‘The Beast.’ With Vladimir he schemes to take over Arrakis, squeeze the population and crush their morale entirely.
Why he’s the perfect choice: Bautista, who worked with director Villenueve on Blade Runner 2049 will likely add a sense of manic glee and dark melancholy from characters like Drax the Destroyer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho
Who is Duncan Idaho? One of the finest swordsmen in service to House Atreides and a skilled pilot. Idaho has something of a reputation as a ladies man. Leto appoints him as ambassador to the Fremen of Arrakis.
Why he’s the perfect choice: Momoa, known the world over as Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe movies, will presumably bring his winning charm and upright bro-ness to the character.
Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck
Who is Gurney Halleck? The weapons master and war officer to House Atreides, Gurney Halleck was personally serves as Paul’s combat instructor. Halleck is also a skilled musician known to freestyle musical proverbs on his baliset.
Why he’s the perfect choice: Brolin will bring the resolve and determination he showcased in No Country for Old Men as Halleck, taking up the character from pre-Star Trek Patrick Stewart.
Zendaya as Chani Kynes
Who is Gurney Chani? A talented Fremen warrior, Chani forms a deep connection with the Atreides, especially Paul. The daughter of Imperial planetologist Liet-Kynes, Chani masters the superhuman techniques of The Weirding Way of the Bene Gesserit from the Atreides.
Why she’s the perfect choice: Zendaya’s breakout performance was her starring role as Rue, a depressive, sarcastic but ultimately caring teen in the HBO series Euphoria. She’s picking up the role of Chani from Sean Young, herself a sci-fi hall of famer from Blade Runner.
Are you just as psyched as we are for the new Dune movie? Tell us how you feel in the comments below!