The Spice is about to flow. Production is ramping up for Denis Villenueve’s Dune, and Deadline reports that Timothée Chalamet is in final negotiations for the lead role. Legendary Entertainment acquired both film and television rights for Frank Herbert’s Dune novels in 2016, and they plan to move forward with multiple films. After helming Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve (Sicario, Arrival) had his pick of juicy projects to jump into (such as the new James Bond flick), and he ultimately settled on another beloved, epic sci-fi series.
The first Dune novel, written in 1965, tells the story of Paul Atreides (who would be played by Chalamet), a 14-year-old boy whose noble family accepts the stewardship of a highly coveted desert planet. Set 20,000 years in the future, a feudal interstellar society is depicted in which noble houses control individual planets and pledge allegiance to the Padishah Emperor. The desert planet, Arrakis, happens to be the only source of ‘spice,’ the most valuable substance in the universe. Thus Atreides becomes involved in political machinations, religious fervor, and technological warfare as different factions vie for control of the planet, and its spice trade.
Chalamet is currently Hollywood’s golden-boy, fresh off of performances in Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird. His next film, Beautiful Boy, is already getting Oscar-buzz. He stars along with Steve Carell, and the story chronicles the emotional journey of a family coping with addiction over several years.
Attempts of varying quality have been made in the past to translate the Dune books to both the big screen (1984’s Dune) and the small screen (2000’s Dune mini-series). The political intrigue and complex relationships in the story should find little difficulty appealing to a new generation of media-consuming adults who eat up Game of Thrones and other shows that juggle complex narratives. While the handling of the hallowed source material is a source of worry for hardcore fans (who fear that the books are too ambitious and dense to translate into films), hopefully Villeneuve’s sterling track record and the promise of a talented actor such as Chalamet is enough to quell doubts. Fear is the mind-killer, after all.
Dune will likely begin filming in early 2019, and we’ll stay on top of any casting news as it develops.