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Dream Casting: Dune

Contributed by
Mar 15, 2018

Dream Casting is an imaginative look at the casting process of potential Hollywood projects based on comics and other media. This isn't just about what is being made; this is about what should be made, and who we think should be the stars.

Denis Villeneuve, the director behind Blade Runner 2049, is working on his own adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel Dune, which he recently said will take at least two years to make and consist of two or more movies. Nobody's been cast in it yet, however, which leaves the door wide open for me to do my thing and decide who I think the stars should be.

Although Villeneuve has said that his adaptation will bear no resemblance to David Lynch's 1984 Dune film, I couldn't resist taking inspiration from some of Lynch's better choices. However, I also went back to descriptions from the original novel in an attempt to get a fresh perspective on these characters.

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Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides

Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) is a real up and comer. He seems more interested in art films than blockbusters, but Dune might be artistic enough to interest him, and he'll make a fantastic Paul.

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Kyle McLachlan as Duke Leto Atreides

Obviously there's a bit of an in-joke here since Kyle McLachlan played Paul in David Lynch's Dune, but beyond that I actually think he'd be a great Duke Leto.

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Nicole Kidman as Lady Jessica

Jessica is a complicated character whose loyalties are divided long before she and her son Paul run off to join the Fremen. Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies) can play that complexity while also embodying the character's regal bearing.

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Mahershala Ali as Duncan Idaho

Duncan Idaho is a fierce warrior who becomes a far more central character in the Dune sequels. Mahershala Ali (Luke Cage) can carry any cinematic sequels that might happen, and in the meantime he'll be a formidable presence in the first movie.

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Dave Bautista as Gurney Halleck

Gurney Halleck is an experienced warrior, which is basically what Dave Bautista (Blade Runner 2049) is in real life. I'm not sure if Bautista has the musical talent that Gurney is meant to, but we can always dub it if not.

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Alfred Molina as Thufir Hawat

Thufir is a mentat, something like a highly trained human computer. Finding a way to do that believably without just playing a robot or Vulcan will be a worthwhile challenge for veteran actor Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2).

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Alexander Siddig as Liet Kynes

Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) has had a long career in sci-fi/fantasy, and his eyes have exactly the kind of tired wisdom that Fremen leader Liet Kynes should have.

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Hailee Steinfeld as Chani

Hailee Steinfeld (Ender's Game) can hold her own with Chalamet as Paul's love interest among the Fremen, while also being a formidable woman in her own right.

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Oded Fehr as Stilgar

Oded Fehr (Resident Evil: Retribution) has a following that sometimes outpaces the roles he gets, but he would be great as the Fremen warrior who becomes a key ally to Paul Atreides.

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John Goodman as Baron Harkkonen

John Goodman may seem like a dark horse pick for Harkkonen, but the evil Baron is such a troubling character, I think you need a truly great actor to avoid making him a negative stereotype of decadent obesity. Goodman is one of the best actors of his generation, and despite his usual likability, he's proven in movies like 10 Cloverfield Lane and O Brother, Where Are Thou? that he can be extremely menacing when the role requires it.

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Harry Styles as Feyd-Rautha

Yes, I cast another British pop star, in keeping with the Lynch version. Even aside from that, Harry Styles (Dunkirk) has the look and the skill to play the handsome but twisted heir to the Harkkonen dynasty.

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Elijah Wood as Piter de Vries

Elijah Wood (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency) has developed an almost unsettlingly intense look as he's gotten older, which is a good start for playing the twisted mentat Piter de Vries.

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Ken Leung as Dr. Yueh

Yueh is a troubled and ultimately tragic figure. Ken Leung, a genre veteran who belongs in better projects than Inhumans, can bring the pathos.

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Joe Morton as the Emperor

Joe Morton's long sci-fi resume stretches back to 1984's The Brother from Another Planet, so becoming the literal Emperor of the Known Universe seems like a nice grace note to his career. Plus he'll be great at it.

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Sierra McClain as Princess Irulan

Princess Irulan is another character who gets more to do in the sequel, so hopefully this wouldn't be the last time we see the delightful Sierra McClain (Empire) in the role.

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Tilda Swinton as the Reverend Mother

Creepy nun/witch who attempts to control the universe via eugenics and tortures the protagonist to test his power? That's a Tilda Swinton part if ever there was one.