Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune ends with an intense showdown between Paul Atreides and Feyd-Rautha, two sides of an epic war that’ll decide the fate of a trade, a planet, and a galaxy. In the film adaptation, Dune: Part Two, Atreides is once again played by Timothée Chalamet, and Feyd-Rautha, the heir-apparent to the evil Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), is played by Oscar nominee Austin Butler. For that reason alone, it would make sense that the two would challenge each other, but according to Chalamet, it was much more than that.
In a fascinating new interview with GQ (conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike), Chalamet talks about the first time he and Butler met in regards to Dune. It was over Zoom and Butler had already prepared to the point where he sounded very obviously inspired by Skarsgård. “I can’t overstate how inspiring it was to me personally,” Chalamet said. “Because here was someone who’s a little older than me, but generationally we’re similar, and I don’t know how he would put it, but his journey was different than mine. But he takes the work incredibly seriously. And I feel like I hadn’t seen that among someone my age, whether it was in drama school or on set, that did take the work that seriously but then after ‘cut’ wasn’t, you know, in some show of how seriously they took it—and instead is this tremendously affable, wonderful man.”
One of Dune’s producers, Cale Boyter, spoke about how that carried over to the final scene too. “You’re talking about two of the most talented young actors of our generation facing off,” he said. “I would say Timmy’s level of preparation going into the scene—well, knowing he was fighting Austin enhanced it.”
Having a contemporary to bounce off was not something Chalamet experienced on the set of Dune: Part One. There, it was less pals and more mentors. People like Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, and Josh Brolin. But this time, in Part Two, he not only had Butler, he had Zendaya (whom he shared a few scenes with in the first movie, but has many more with this time around) as well as Florence Pugh. Oh, and Zendaya’s boyfriend, some guy named Tom Holland, would also visit the set. The actor talked about how having those types of people around was equally inspiring.
“It was so incredibly valuable to spend so much time with Zendaya and her assistant, Darnell, and when Tom would come to set too,” Chalamet said. “They’re level. They’re good Hollywood. They’re good-energy Hollywood. And then Austin and Florence. I feel like I’m creating a community for myself of people who care about the right things.”
We care about the rights things too. Like seeing Chalamet kick some Butler ass in Dune: Part Two when it (hopefully) hits theaters March 15, 2024. And for more on Chalamet, including how Butler’s Elvis inspiration also inspired his upcoming portrayal of Bob Dylan, head over to GQ.
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