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Javier Bardem in talks to join Dune reboot

Welcome to Arrakis, friend-o. 

Javier Bardem is reportedly in talks to join the quickly growing ensemble cast of director Denis Villeneuve's Dune, a revisiting of the beloved Frank Herbert novel first adapted for the screen in 1984. (via Deadline

The news is part of a surge in casting for the film in the last week. Actor Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) was announced as the film's lead in July of last year, and in the intervening months, the cast has been bolstered by the likes of Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Infinity War), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible: Fallout), Stellan Skarsgård (Erik Selvig in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and Charlotte Rampling (Red Sparrow, The Little Stranger). On Tuesday, it was announced that Star Wars: The Last Jedi's Oscar Isaac was also in talks to take part, and on Wednesday, news came that Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming) was also lined up to join the cast.

That's a lot of serious talent, and with the addition of Bardem, Villeneuve has officially assembled a roster which would constitute an embarrassment of riches in any director's book. The veteran Spanish actor has a list of credits a mile long, but he'll perhaps always be known for the part of the cold-blooded, weirdly hairstyled assassin Anton Chigurh in Joel and Ethan Coen's 2007 masterpiece No Country For Old Men. The role won him multiple awards, including the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Dune takes place on the planet Arrakis, sole purveyor of a valuable resource called Melange, in the far future. Its story focuses on the events that take place after a member of the ruling Atreides family is assassinated, leading to conflict over stewardship of the planet and its supply of Melange (also known as The Spice), which can grant the user extended life and increased awareness, among other properties.

The novel was famously adapted in 1984 by surrealist filmmaker David Lynch, a production which (how shall we put this) failed legendarily. Herbert's novel is exceedingly complex, as concerned with political machinations and explorations of the human condition as with sci-fi world building, and its structure is dense — so much so, in fact, that Villeneuve has indicated that he'll need to split his feature into two parts in order to adapt it properly.

The director has been largely mum as to how he'll approach the material, and some of the comments he has made haven't exactly gone over swimmingly with genre fans. Noting the novel's towering influence on the pop culture sci-fi boom that followed it, he told Fandom, "Most of the main ideas of Star Wars are coming from Dune, so it's going to be a challenge to [adapt] this… The ambition is to do the Star Wars movie I never saw. In a way, it's Star Wars for adults. We'll see."

Villeneuve may have been speaking off the cuff, but it's not tough to argue that there are a fair number of adults who enjoy Star Wars. It can't be denied, however, that the director's pedigree speaks for itself: his brainy 2016 sci-fi drama Arrival was nominated for eight Oscars (winning one), and 2017's Blade Runner 2049 showed that he could deliver a worthy take on a revered property.

One thing is for sure: the reboot will really be more of a re-adaptation, as Villeneuve won't be using the Lynch film for any kind of reference. Speaking with Yahoo!, he said, "David Lynch did an adaptation in the '80s that has some very strong qualities, I mean David Lynch is one of the best filmmakers alive, I have massive respect for him. But when I saw his adaptation I was impressed, but it was not what I had dreamed of, so I'm trying to make the adaptation of my dreams… It will not [have] any link with the David Lynch movie. I'm going back to the book, and going back to the images that came out when I read it."

Fans have long dreamed of a proper adaptation of the iconic novel as well; here's hoping Villeneuve and company will deliver it for them. Shooting is expected to begin in March, with Jordan being eyed as a likely location.