Far as movies go, Dune has been a cursed source. An epic version from the ’70s, that would have featured Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, and Salvador Dalí, crumbled in the prep stage. David Lynch nearly destroyed his career with his expensive, Toto-scored flop adaptation from 1984. Peter Berg’s threatened stab never materialized. But this latest attempt, by Arrival’s Denis Villeneuve, keeps looking like it may actually happen. Not only are Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, and Dave Baustista still on-board, it’s also found its villain: Stellan Skarsgard.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, the Lars von Trier regular (and, yes, occasional player in the MCU) will float around as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, the dastardly leader scheming to destroy the goodly House Atreides, including its scion, and our hero, Paul (Chalamet). Ferugson will play Lady Jessica, the mystical Bene Gesserit who may have sired the messiah (read: Paul) who will save the known universe. Also there are sandworms.
Frank Herbert’s original 1965 novel (of six total) is famously, infamously dense, and Lynch’s delightfully phantasmagoric version spends much of its running time burdened by expository dialogue, in between hitting unsuspecting viewers with some of the craziest imagery ever confiscated into a multiplex. (Of course, it’s not that complicated; star Kyle MacLachlan once crammed the whole thing into a single tweet.)
Villeneuve’s version will have to find a way not to alienate viewers. But the casting of the eccentric and unpredictable Skarsgard — the great Swedish actor whose sons, Alexander and Bill, are doing pretty well for themselves, too — promises that it will still be plenty out-there. We’ll have to wait a long time to see if Villeneuve succeeded; a lot of the other principal characters haven’t even been cast. (Who on earth will they get for Feyd Rautha, who in the Lynch was played by no less than Sting?) Till then, slip your gom jabbar on your pointer finger and remember: Fear is the mind killer.