Star Wars and X-Men actor Oscaar Isaac looks to add another mega franchise to his resume as he is reportedly in talks to play Duke Leto Atreides in Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi masterpiece Dune.
Variety reports that Isaac is in negotiations to star as Leto Atriedes. Isaac will join Timothee Chalamet, who has been cast as Paul Atriedes, Rebecca Ferguson, who will play Duke Leto’s wife, the Lady Jessica, Stellan Skarsgard, who will play the villainous Baron Harkonnen, and Charlotte Rampling, who is expected to play the Reverend Mother Mohiam.
Ferguson spoke about her preparation for her role as Lady Jessica to The Hollywood Reporter:
“I would never watch anyone’s interpretation of Jessica. Obviously, I did watch David Lynch’s Dune back in the day, and Jessica comes with characteristic traits. So, you can’t mess around with it. There’s a calm empowerment to being the Bene Gesserit [a powerful and ancient order of women in the Dune universe] that she is. I’m reading the book; I’ve read it. I have the script and Denis’ ideas so I feel like I have so much to work with already. So, I’ll just rock it as it comes I think. I’m flying over next week for a costume fitting which will be really exciting.”
Villeneuve is not only directing, but he is also co-writing the script with Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts.
Herbert’s Dune is one of the all-time greatest science fiction pieces ever written. Herbert would go on to write five more Dune novels following his original work. His son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson would pen an additional 14 Dune novels.
The original Dune novel was previously adapted to film in 1984 by David Lynch. The Sci-Fi channel also released a miniseries based on Herbert’s Dune in 2000. They would follow it up with a 2003 sequel based on Children of Dune and Dune Messiah.
Dune is set in the distant future and follows the life of Paul Atreides and his family as they take control of the desert planet Arrakis that is rich in the most precious natural resource in the galaxy, spice. Given that Arrakis is the only planet to produce the spice that allows for intergalactic travel and grants humans the ability to predict the future, it’s highly contested among the royal noble families. Paul’s family comes under attack from House Harkonnen, and forces him, his mother, and his sister to flee into the dangerous deserts occupied the native Fremen. While in the desert Paul recruits an army and leads a rebellion that will sweep through the galaxy.
The story touches on a number of themes including palace intrigue, politics, religion, the nature of man, the environment, and more.
Given that the book and its sequels take such deep dives into these complicated themes, it might make it extremely difficult for Villeneuve to adapt to film. The original film struggled to connect with critics and audiences receiving a rotten 54% score from critics and a 66% score from the audience on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie would only gross just under $31 million. It had an estimated budget of $40 million.
Villeneuve definitely has a tough road ahead to successfully adapt Dune, in fact the series might be better off being serialized in a television format like Game of Thrones.