Fans of Frank Herbert’s Dune saga were in for a bit of a shock recently when it was revealed Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve was not only moving forward with his re-imagining of the book, but would take two years to make a two-part film.
The upcoming movie will be the epic fantasy novel’s third live-action iteration following David Lynch taking the helm of a Dune film in 1984 and SYFY producing their own mini-series in 2000 (as well as the Children of Dune sequel in 2003).
Though I will be the first to openly discuss my distaste for reboots (I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), I’m not entirely against this newest depiction of the 1965 tome — especially since our special effects have greatly improved in the last 15 years and will allot for a richer portrayal of the desert planet Arrakis.
Despite my acquiescence to the idea of yet another Mua’dib on the big screen, I would be apt to enjoy the film if Villeneuve’s vast change in interpretation included some POC casting. While previous films have been consistent in casting our fearsome fallen desert-dwelling aristocrats as Caucasian, it would be nice to change things up a bit.
For instance, when it comes to our hero Paul Atreides, wouldn’t it be awesome to see him played by actor Donald Glover? Given that he's also portraying a young Lando in Solo: A Star Wars Story, I wouldn’t mind continuing to see him work in the sci-fi realm. If not Donald, I could see How to Get Away With Murder’s Alfred Enoch stepping into the role.
Additionally, Black Panther's Michael B. Jordan could take on another yet fictional baddie as Feyd, Paul’s competitor and distant cousin, with American Gods' Ricky Whittle playing Rabban, Feyd’s older, more brute brother.
As for the leading ladies of Dune, Tessa Thompson has the potential to transform into Chani, the Fremen lady warrior at Paul’s side (and in his heart). Playing her somewhat polar opposite could be Annihilation's Gina Rodriguez as Princess Irulan, the woman who is married to Paul for the means of a political treaty.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales' Javier Bardem comes to mind to play Emperor Shadam IV, Princess Irulan’s plotting father. If not him, then maybe The Last Jedi's Benicio Del Toro or Doctor Strange's Benjamin Bratt.
It would be very hard to cast the role of Lady Jessica, as it would have to be an actress both stunning and commanding. Skyfall's Naomie Harris has played characters both beautiful and quietly lethal.
With Naomie Harris playing Lady Jessica, there’s only one man I can picture portraying her consort, the Duke Leto Atreides — Mr. Idris Elba. He’s handsome, suave, and can’t do much wrong in a film like this. This is really an “Idris For Everything” kind of moment that actually works, guys!
There are so many other Dune characters that could use a twist, like Gurney Halleck (originally played by X-Men's Patrick Stewart in the '80s), Paul’s principal tutor from his homeworld of Caladan or Alia, Paul’s “abomination” of a sister. The only remaining character that I have a clear vision for, however, is the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam: none other than The Expanse's Shohreh Aghdashloo with her silky voice and shade-throwing eyes to play the leader of the Benegeserit order.
Though I don’t expect most (or any) of this fan casting of mine to come to fruition, one can hope that there is a smidgen of color in this round — and I’m not talking about the true-blue eye color of the Fremen, either.
The world of Dune could certainly be set in a future where people of color are also flourishing and not just in the background. It’s my dream that at least one of the major houses of Dune 2020 is reinvisioned with POC casting, if not the Fremen natives of Arrakis. Let’s face it: diversity is prevalent in our everyday society, and it should be prevalent in space and time as well.