Oscar Issac Was Almost Forced To Shave His Beard For ‘Dune’

While Denis Villeneuve’s Dune might have a lot of things going for it — an all-star cast, great source material, an impressive budget, and some pretty decent reviews so far, to name a few — there’s one thing we here at UPROXX personally think stands out above all else: Oscar Isaac’s beard. Ever since the film’s first trailer hit YouTube last September, Isaac’s rugged-yet-regal appearance has caused quite a commotion and a frankly dangerous number of swoons and sighs. As such, it might come as quite the shock that Duke Leto’s lion-like mane almost ceased to exist.

In an interview with GQ, Dune makeup and hair department head Donald Mowat revealed the first concept art for Isaac’s character, Duke Leto Atreides, depicted the character as highly polished and clean-shaven.

“I personally didn’t see Oscar Isaac with the beard initially. When I was working on my Photoshops and concept characters — I kind of diligently pull reference materials — I didn’t. When I heard that this could happen and Oscar and Denis had talked about it, I was a little bit surprised.”

To be fair, Mowat had very good reason for envisioning Isaac this way. In Dune, author Frank Herbert describes the Duke as “tall, olive-skinned. His thin face held harsh angels warmed only by deep gray eyes,” which does cast the character in a pretty severe light that the decidedly kind-faced Isaac doesn’t quite have. Furthermore, in the 1984 David Lynch movie, Duke Leto is only given a slight beard (that looks far more incidental than the carefully sculpted one Isaac sports), and in the 2000 mini-series, the Duke is clean-shaven. Mowat said he ultimately had to go back to the drawing board when he heard Villeneuve and Isaac were all about the actor maintaining his facial hair, and ultimately found some pretty interesting inspiration.

Ultimately, Isaac keeping the beard actually served the film well in a number of ways. First and foremost, it helped accentuate the age gap between Isaac and his on-screen son Paul (Timothée Chalamet), as well as gave them a bit more of a physical connection: their hair. Whereas Chalamet’s pale, slender and Tim Burton-esque portrayal of Paul implies his character mostly takes after his mother, both his and Isaac’s boast some wild tresses that prove the two do have some relation.

“We kept [Paul’s] hair very wavy, a lion-like mane. He’s like the young lion to the old — this mane of hair blown in the sand and the dust and the spice — but he is Lady Jessica’s son. He’s pale, he’s statuesque, he’s beautiful, but he’s got his father’s hair.”

While we’re absolutely certain Isaac, an incredibly handsome and talented actor, would look and perform just as wonderfully without it, I think all parties are happier the upcoming Dune movie let Duke Leto keep his mane — even if it did take 14 weeks to grow and required 35 minutes of grooming a day to make it look camera ready. You can catch Isaac’s beard in all its glory starting at 6 PM ET today, when the film hits HBO Max, or Friday, October 22 in theaters.