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One Dune Star Kept Asking For ‘More Nude Scenes,’ And The Reason Makes Sense

Stellan Skarsgård in Dune
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Very few people likely sat through Denis Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated sci-fi masterpiece Dune and thought, “This needs more nudity.” Sure, some audience members likely came to that conclusion, but I bet they think that about almost every movie. Well, you can add Dune co-star Stellan Skarsgard to the list of folks craving more nude scenes, specifically ones involving his morbidly obese character Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, and his reasoning for asking Villeneuve for them actually was character driven and made sense. 

If you’ve seen Dune, you know that the size and physical appearance of Baron Harkonnen fed into his intimidation, as did the vocal delivery that Stellan Skarsgard landed on while putting together his performance. And makeup artist Donald Mowat, who received an Oscar nomination for his outstanding work on Dune, spoke to The Wrap about Skarsgard’s process, and it apparently involved asking Denis Villeneuve for more nudity. Mowat said:

Stellan just loved being naked as the Baron. We all used to kill ourselves laughing when Stellan would ask for more nude scenes. He felt, quite correctly, that the Baron appeared more frightening and dangerous unclothed than cloaked in robes or armor. So he was always asking for more nudity.

We’re thankful it didn’t work. The Baron is, with all due respect, grotesque, and so spending more time around his naked visage would have been difficult. It also would have been really difficult ON the makeup team, as Donald Mowat explains some of the process and the amount of time that it took to pull off that look. He went on to say:

It took five people about four hours to apply Stellan’s makeup. And that was when the Baron was wearing a costume. Naked, it took six-and-a-half or seven hours. That’s a huge difference in the day, but it was worth it. … We added cheeks, jowls, a silicone bald cap, and eyebrow covers. I’m always looking to spot fake eyebrow covers in films, so we worked hard on those. Also, Stellan wore prosthetic hands and feet and ankles.

Well, there’s always Dune: Part Two, which Denis Villeneuve is moving on to now that his first part caught fire, found its audience, and earned so many Academy Awards including Best Picture. Somehow, in a way that makes absolutely no sense, Villeneuve didn’t get nominated for Best Director. So ridiculous. It pissed Josh Brolin off. We feel his pain. The director has talked about that the character of Rabban, the Baron’s nephew, is going to be a larger role. But when we see the Baron, he better be nude. Fully nude. And intimidating. 

Not only is Dune: Part Two announced, Warner Bros. has circled the release date of October 20, 2023, which puts it into the same release window as the initial movie. If it’s as good as the original movie, it will be in that Oscar race, and hopefully will get Denis Villeneuve the Oscar nomination for Best Director that he deserves. 

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.