The original Dune novel is one of the most acclaimed and influential pieces of sci-fi literature, and so far the tale has been adapted twice in live action. First, David Lynch got to play around with Frank Herbert's mythology for the 1984 Dune movie, and then the story was revisited in 2000 for the then-Sci-Fi Channel's miniseries, Frank Herbert's Dune (which was followed in 2003 by Frank Herbert's Children of Dune). Now Dune is finally returning to the big screen with Sicario and Arrival director Denis Villeneuve at the helm.
Denis Villeneuve has provided a few details about what to expect from his version of Dune, such as how the events of the first Dune novel will be told over two movies, but now the cast is also slowly coming together. Here are the actors who are headlining the project.
The first actor to be brought aboard for the Dune reboot was Timothée Chalamet, who has had en eventful two years. In 2017, he catapulted to fame for his performances in Call Me by Your Name, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination, and Lady Bird, and he also appeared in Hot Summer Nights and Hostiles that same year. In 2018, he only appeared in Beautiful Boy, but that was another big addition to his resume and he walked away with a Golden Globe nomination. For Dune, Chalamet has been tapped to play the main protagonist, Paul Atreides, who must lead a revolution to reclaim his family's rightful inheritance after it's stolen from them. This will be Chalamet's first time leading a blockbuster production, so even more people will learn just how talented he is.
After striking it big on British TV as the lead of The White Queen, Rebecca Ferguson scored a role in the 2014, Dwayne Johnson-led fantasy film Hercules. The year after that, she played her most well-known cinematic character, Ilsa Faust, in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, whom she reprised last year in Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Ferguson's other notable credits include Florence Foster Jenkins, The Girl on the Train and The Greatest Showman, and in addition to Dune, her other upcoming movies include The Kid Who Would Be King, Men in Black: International and Doctor Sleep. But for the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert's work, she'll play Lady Jessica, Paul Atreides' mother, who convinces her son to seek help so that their family can overthrow their enemies.
Having already become an accomplished wrestler, Dave Bautista transitioned into acting, and once he was cast as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy, his fame skyrocketed. In addition to reprising the socially inept warrior several other times within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bautista has also appeared in Spectre, Hotel Artemis and Blade Runner 2049, the latter of which was directed by Denis Villeneuve. With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 indefinitely delayed, that afforded Bautista the opportunity to reunite with Villeneuve for Dune. Bautista is reportedly playing Glossu "Beast" Rabban, the sadistic, but not too bright nephew of Baron Harkonnen who aids his uncle with his nefarious schemes, including taking over Arrakis, which was previously controlled by the Atreides family. In other words, Bautista will be one of the villains.
Next, we have Stellan Skarsgård. His biggest movie appearances include The Hunt for Red October, Good Will Hunting, Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang), Mamma Mia! (and its sequel), the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean installments and Cinderella. Like Dave Bautista, he's also a member of the MCU, having played original character Erik Selvig four times. Skarsgård has been tapped to play Baron Harkonnen in Dune, the story's main antagonist. Having hated the Atreides family for a long time, he initiates a series of events that lead to Paul and Lady Jessica being forced to flee Arrakis, resulting in Harkonnen taking control of the planet. For this movie, Skarsgård's Harkonnen has been described as being less of a caricature and more of a predator, with the full-body prosthetics encasing the actor making him look like a "rhino in human form."
After that, we have Charlotte Rampling, whose primarily known for her work in European cinema. In 2016, she earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Kate Mercer in 45 Years, and in 2017 she earned a Golden Globe nomination for playing Frances Turner in the BBC miniseries London Spy. Rampling's resume also includes The Verdict, The Duchess, Dexter, Broadchurch and Red Sparrow. Rampling cast been cast in Dune to play Reverend Mother Mohiam, a soothsayer serving Emperor Shaddam IV who is capable of determining a person's intentions and if they're lying, as well as manipulate their emotions.
Following her, we have Oscar Isaac, who will play Paul Atreides’ father, Leto, who is the Duke of the House Atreides. Leto is also the main character of the Prelude to Dune trilogy that was written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Among Isaac’s most notable credits are Inside Llewyn Davis, Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, X-Men: Apocalypse and Annihilation. He’ll appear later this year in Triple Frontier, The Addams Family and Star Wars: Episode IX.
Next on the list is Zendaya, who is being eyed to play Paul Atreides’ love interest, Chani, in Dune. Chani meets Paul and Lady Jessica when they’re forced to flee into Arrakis’ desert, and as she trains alongside the two, she and Paul build a connection. After making a splash on the Disney Channel leading the TV shows Shake it Up and K.C. Undercover, Zendaya has since made the jump to the big screen with Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman. Her other upcoming appearances include Spider-Man: Far From Home and the HBO series Euphoria.
Further proving that Denis Villeneuve is not playing around with assembling a top-notch cast for Dune, Javier Bardem eventually joined the proceedings. He will play Stilgar, the leader of the Sietch Tabr, one of the Fremen communities on the planet Arrakis. Just like with Chani, Paul Atreides and Lady Jessica meet him when they’re forced to flee into the planet’s desert. Bardem, who is arguably the most well-known actor announced for Dune so far, has an impressive acting resume filled with movies like No Country for Old Men, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Skyfall and Mother!, to name a few.
2018 was a big year for Josh Brolin. Along with debuting as Cable in Deadpool 2 and reprising Matt Graver in Sicario: Day of the Soldado, he also finally got to snag the spotlight as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, and he’ll do so again this year in Avengers: Endgame. Now it looks like Brolin will be staying within the sci-fi realm, as he’s signed on to play Gurney Halleck in the Dune reboot, a role previously played by a pre-Star Trek: The Next Generation Patrick Stewart. Gurney is the warmaster for the Atreides family and a mentor to Paul, and continues to aid the family even after they’ve been overthrown.
Jason Momoa has finally hit it big in the realm of movies. Although he’d already made a name for himself on TV through shows like Baywatch: Hawaii, Stargate Atlantis, Game of Thrones and Frontier, his first attempt at playing a popular fictional character in a cinematic setting, Conan the Barbarian, didn’t go so well. Now, however, he’s the DC Extended Universe’s Aquaman, with the underwater-dwelling superhero’s standalone adventure becoming the highest-grossing DC Comics movie of all time. Now he's appearing in Dune as Duncan Idaho, a skilled swordsman who is fiercely loyal to House Atreides. Idaho, whom Momoa described as "Han Solo-esuqe," is the only character to appear in all of Frank Herbert’s six original Dune novels. So there’s a chance, as rare as it may be, that Momoa, could appear in a lot of Dune movies, assuming of course he’s cast and if any of those sequel stories are adapted to film.
Making his film debut in The Dark Knight, David Dastmalchian has gone on to build a solid movie and TV career over the last decade with projects like the Ant-Man films, Bird Box, Gotham, The Flash and MacGyver. Dune, however, marks his third collaboration with Denis Villeneuve, having previously appeared in Prisoners and Blade Runner 2049. Dastmalchian has been cast as Piter De Vries, a Mentat (a human who’s trained to perform mental functions on par with a computer) who serves Baron Harkonnen. De Vries is also infamous for creating a poison that stays in the body for years and requires an antidote to be regularly administered.
After rising to prominence for playing the desert bandit Dark Could in 2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, he'll be returning to a sandy environment for Dune. More recently, Chen has appeared in The Grandmaster, Brotherhood of Blades, The Assassin and Forever Young. In Dune, Chen will take on the role of Dr. Yueh, who, in the books, serves as the personal physician to Leto Atreides. Unfortunately, Yueh is also unwillingly working for Baron Harkonnen, so we'll see if the movie takes his character in the same direction with the same consequences.
Stephen McKinley Henderson
While Stephen McKinley Henderson primarily works on stage, he has a healthy amount of movie and TV credits on his resume, including Tower Heist, Lincoln, Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird, New Amsterdam (the Nikolaj Coster-Waldau-one, not the current version) and Devs. In Dune, he’s playing Thufir Hawat, a Mentat who has been loyal to the House Atreides for multiple generations.
Sharon Duncan-Brewster already has some sci-fi cred under her belt thanks to a brief Rogue One: A Star Wars Story appearance and showing up in the Doctor Who special “The Water of Mars.” That said, British audiences likely know her best from her roles on the TV shows Bad Girls and EastEnders, and she currently stars as Roz Marchetti in the Netflix series Sex Education. For Dune, Duncan-Brewster was cast as Dr. Liet-Kynes, the Imperial Planetologist of Arrakis who was Chani’s father in the original source material, but has been reimagined as her mother for this movie.
Dune will arrive on December 18, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on the reboot. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release schedule to figure out what movies are also hitting theaters later this year.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.