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Dune’s Denis Villeneuve Talks Star Wars And Being A Movie Fanboy At Heart

Timothee Chalamet in Dune

Director Denis Villeneuve has built a special reputation in Hollywood. As the director of movies like Arrival, Blade Runner 2049, and the upcoming Dune, he's a director of science fiction movies, but also of a certain type of science fiction movie. Villeneuve makes "smart" sci-fi, a more esoteric cerebral type of sci-fi that we don't see as often on the big screen. It's made the director a darling of awards season year after year, something which may happen yet again this year with Dune. Villeneuve says that his reputation as an intellectual filmmaker is one that he himself has tried to cultivate, but the reality is he's just a Star Wars nerd like the rest of us.

Recently for Harpers Bazaar directors Chloé Zhao and Denis Villeneuve sat down together to discuss their careers and their approach to filmmaking. During the two-way interview it came out that Zhao was a big Star Wars fan, and that resulted in Villeneuve admitting what a major influence the franchise, specifically The Empire Strikes Back, had on him as a child. According to Villeneuve...

The Empire Strikes Back was probably one of the most impressive cinematic experiences of my life. I saw the first Star Wars at 10 years old. I was the target audience. To wait for The Empire Strikes Back was the biggest wait of my life. I rode something like 20 miles on a bike to go see the movie in a theater. The owner let us watch it two or three times in a row. I remember the shock of that movie. I never talk about Star Wars. I want to look like an intellectual director, but I’m not. The truth is, I am a deep fan.

We do tend to see directors in two distinct categories. There are those directors that make the movies that have a lot of fans and make a lot of money, and there are those directors that win all the awards. For a long time those categories seemed quite rigid, with only the occasional crossover success with someone like Steven Spielberg. But in recent years we've started to see more people do both. Chloé Zhao herself just finished winning a shelf full of awards for Nomadland, and now we're on the verge of her Marvel Studios movie, Eternals.

It's actually sort of funny to see Denis Villeneuve say that he doesn't really talk about Star Wars much, specifically because he wants to be thought of in a certain way as a director, and talking too much about the galaxy far, far away might get people thinking in a different way. It's perhaps an understandable reaction.

At the same time, one hopes that eventually any director would be given the chance to make any movie given that they show the ability to do so. And I for one would love to see an "intellectual director's" take on Star Wars, and it sounds like he might just be up for it.

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.