Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Director Of Dune Opens About Casting Timothée Chalamet

After a long delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, sci-fi fans will soon experience director Denis Villeneuve's hotly-anticipated adaptation of "Dune." Based on the first half of legendary author Frank Herbert's lauded 1965 novel of the same name, a lot is riding on Villeneuve's "Dune," especially because it is the second feature-length interpretation of Herbert's beloved sci-fi story.

Made for a reported $165 million (via Variety) — an amount that doesn't include marketing costs — the 2021 film follows director David Lynch's troubled 1984 adaptation, which was critically maligned at the time and still holds a 48% Rotten Tomatoes score today. Even worse, it was a box office dud upon release, making just $30.9 million worldwide against a $40 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo.

Along with the amount of money sunk into Villeneuve's resurrection of "Dune," there is an astronomical set of expectations (see Cinemablend's 2019 assessment as a starting point). There's plenty of star wattage in the project, with Oscar Issac, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, and Stellan Skarsgård all there to help encourage audience interest. However, the project largely rests on the shoulders of Timothée Chalamet, who leads the charge as protagonist Paul Atreides. It's a big job, but it's one Villeneuve knows the actor can do because, as revealed in a recent interview, there was a moment while making "Dune" that the director realized he'd made the right casting decision for Paul.

Timothée Chalamet's performance perfectly matched Denis Villeneuve's vision

In a joint Variety video interview with Timothée Chalamet, director Denis Villeneuve recalled how filming a pivotal sequence focused on Paul Atreides' (Chalamet) tolerance for pain helped him realize the decision to cast the "Call Me by Your Name" alum was a great choice. "There's a very important scene in the movie called 'The Gom Jabbar scene,' which is a test that the main character will go through right at the beginning. To go through that process of having Timothée diving into that zone of pain and starting to transform himself in front of the camera, [it] was so impressive for me," Villeneuve told Variety.

Not only did this transformative experience confirm Villeneuve's faith in Chalamet as an actor, but it also revealed to the director that he nailed the tone of the movie he envisioned after reading Frank Herbert's classic book: "When I saw this transformation, I was, like, 'Whoa. We got the movie right. It's going to be so exciting. That's going to be a ride [for audiences], you know, and I was so relieved and happy that I didn't f*** it up casting you," Villeneuve said playfully to Chalamet. On top of Villeneuve's laughter, Chalamet responded, "Yeah, thank God, no."

"Dune" opens in theaters and begins streaming exclusively on HBO Max October 22.