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Zendaya Opens Up About The Wisdom Teeth-Related Fear She Had During Dune Audition

Zendaya as Chani in Denis Villeneuve's Dune
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Zendaya’s been on quite the roll lately, as in addition to her continued time as Rue Bennett in the hit HBO series Euphoria, she also starred in Malcolm & Marie, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Dune last year. The latter movie saw the actress playing Chani opposite Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides, but when she auditioned for Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the Frank Herbert-penned novel (after convincing the powers-that-be that she should be considered), Zendaya had to deal with a fear that came from her recent wisdom tooth operation.

While discussing her work on Dune as part of an extensive profile with W Magazine, Zendaya recalled how the first time she acted out a scene with Timothée Chalamet in the Dune audition room, she was worried her wisdom tooth having been removed not long beforehand would result in her having foul breath. In her words:

I had just gotten my wisdom teeth taken out. My biggest fear was that my mouth would be vile, and then I would have to do a scene with Timothée where we have to be really close, and he would smell my possible dry socket breath.

Getting wisdom teeth removed isn’t exactly an enjoyable experience, but most of us don’t need to worry about auditioning for a major motion picture shortly after going through such a procedure. Unfortunately for Zendaya, that’s the predicament she found herself in when first testing the Dune waters, but her fears ended up being unwarranted. Both the surgery and her audition happened without any issues, and now Zendaya plays an important role in one of Hollywood’s current biggest sci-fi properties.

Admittedly, Zendaya wasn’t present in Dune for that long, spending less than four days on set and her screen time being limited to Paul Atreides seeing Chani in his dreams and the character officially debuting towards the end of the movie. Still, just like in the original Dune novel, Chani was set up as someone who will be quite important in Paul’s life, and you’ll be seeing a lot more of her when Dune: Part Two rolls around in 2023. Zendaya is the third actress to play Chani in live-action, following Sean Young in David Lynch’s Dune movie and Barbora Kodetová in the then-Sci-Fi Channel’s Dune and Children of Dune miniseries.

Open simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22, Dune was made with critical acclaim and made over $400 million at the worldwide box office. It’s since highlighted in 10 categories at the 2022 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. We’ll see if it takes home any of those golden trophies when the 94th Academy Awards air on ABC March 27, but for Zendaya, Denis Villeneuve and many others, the Dune journey isn’t ending. Dune: Part Two was greenlit less than a week after its predecessor came out, and the plan is to begin filming this summer. In addition to Chani’s expanded role and Javier Bardem’s request for more Stilgar scenes being granted, the Harkonnen family will also have a bigger presence in the sequel.

Dune: Part Two opens in theaters on October 20, 2023. so keep your eyes peeled on CinemaBlend for updates on its progress. We’ll also continue providing information on the status of 2022’s upcoming movies.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

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