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Kyle MacLachlan Faced A Major Career Setback After The Failure Of David Lynch's Dune

Long before Denis Villeneuve's 2021 adaptation of Frank Herbert's "Dune" finally brought a fully realized vision of the complex science fiction novel to the screen, there was innovative, surrealist filmmaker David Lynch's "Dune" from 1984. In a career filled with critically acclaimed, singularly unique films, Lynch's big-budget, studio-backed take on Herbert's classic book was the kind of misfire that can damage careers. Despite this, the filmmaker was able to slide back into independent film to creatively execute his visions, and one USA Today film commentator even finds his version a bit more entertaining than Villeneuve's.

For all its incomprehensible flaws, 1984's "Dune" does have some standout moments, chiefly its luminous cinematography from Freddie Francis and some characteristically memorable Lynchian set pieces. However, it became more of the filmmaker's interpretative wonderland and is not without some scenes and misinterpreted themes that may have aged poorly. But the film's disastrous box office performance and the strong levels of confusion and disarray with the story put its star front and center in terms of facing career setbacks. Kyle MacLachlan portrayed Paul Atreides in the 1984 version of "Dune," and it nearly ruined his acting career.

Dune director David Lynch helped revitalize MacLachlan's then-flagging career

After "Dune," Kyle MacLachlan reunited with David Lynch for 1986's "Blue Velvet" where he played the main character Jeffrey Beaumont. The film was a critical success and went on to become one of the most celebrated of the 1980s. But outside of the indie film circuit, the actor's career failed to take off thanks in part to his earlier collaboration with the director. At the 5:37 mark on an episode of Criterion Collection Closet Picks, MacLachlan commented, "We had done 'Dune' together in '83, and 'Dune' really didn't turn out that well ... after that, I felt like I was a pariah in the business. It was just no work, no nothing." But after "Blue Velvet," he collaborated with the director once again on TV for ABC's "Twin Peaks" in 1990.

For the director of "The Elephant Man" and "Mulholland Dr.," his feelings about the film are a bit more pointed than his leading actor's recollections. In a 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter where he was asked about Denis Villeneuve's version of "Dune," Lynch remarked that he has no interest in the newer film. "Because it was a heartache for me," he explained. "It was a failure and I didn't have [the] final cut. I've told this story a billion times. It's not the film I wanted to make. I like certain parts of it very much — but it was a total failure for me."