Jason Momoa Shares Dune Scene He Got To Improv That Actually Made The Movie

Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho ready for battle in Dune
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Jason Momoa is no stranger to popular franchises/properties, from his time as Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones to playing Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe. As of last month, the actor can now finally be seen as Duncan Idaho in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, which roughly adapts the first half of Frank Herbert’s original novel. Naturally Momoa’s primary job was to act out the scenes laid out to him by the script and anything extra Villeneuve wanted to capture on camera, but there was one scene Momoa improvised himself that made it unto Dune’s final cut.

While being interviewed by EW, Jason Momoa shared how Denis Villeneuve showed him the 80-page “playbook” he’d put together for Dune, which included drawings of scenes that made it into the movie. Later down the line, after being outfitted in his Duncan Idaho costume, Momoa embarked with some friends into Wadi Rum in Jordan, which is where Dune’s Arrakis scenes were shot, and filmed their adventure. As Momoa recalled:

I went there and I went with my buddies and we went and shot in the desert just like to have the feeling of being on Arrakis by myself. I was in wardrobe and went out and wandered around from I guess, say 11-3, in the middle of the day, and we’d go shoot in different places and climb mountains and do all this different stuff. We made a little piece and we showed it to Denis and he was so inspired by that the next day they didn’t let me go.

It’s a good thing Jason Momoa and his friends recorded footage of their jaunt into the desert, because Denis Villeneuve apparently liked what he saw. That said, that footage wasn’t what made it into Dune itself. Instead, Momoa went back into the desert with Villeneuve and cinematographer Greig Fraser to shoot something more professional to include in the movie. Momoa explained:

He took me and we just went out and shot very simple with Greig [Fraser]. And that shot ended up being in the movie. So it was really cool to like — he was having so much fun, just you know, that we went to go play. Because everything for [Denis] was all mapped out. Like he knows exactly what he needs. So to have that little bit of freedom to like go play around, it doesn’t matter if it ends up on the floor. You get juiced up, you start feeling good. Even though you’re tired and maybe you should be resting, it gives you that creative fuel.

So even if this quick scene of Duncan Idaho in the Arrakis desert hadn’t made into the final version of Dune, Jason Momoa is pleased that Denis Villeneuve was at least willing to shoot an official version of what the actor had envisioned. It would have been easy enough for the filmmaker to stick solely to the playbook mapping out his vision for Dune, but he was game to think outside the box, and the end result was the movie being slightly enhanced, as well as Momoa feeling more creatively revved up.

Dune finally opened in theaters and on HBO Max last month after previously being slated for a December 2020 release. Along with earning a lot of positive critical reception, the movie has raked in over $352 million at the global box office, making it the 10th highest-grossing movie of 2021 worldwide. Less than a week after Dune’s release, it was announced that Dune 2, i.e. the movie chronicling the second half of the original Dune novel, has been greenlit, and the plan is to deliver it to the masses on October 20, 2023. There’s also a spinoff series called Dune: The Sisterhood in the works for HBO Max.

There’s only a few more days left to watch Dune on HBO Max, but we’ll let you know when the movie home media release is announced, as well as any details concerning the sequel. As for Jason Momoa, he’s  currently working on Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which will drop on December 16, 2022.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.