Denis Villeneuve discusses casting of Timothée Chalamet in ‘Dune’


At long last, it’s almost time to dive headfirst into the fantastical sandbanks of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune armed with an array of snacks and an open mind, ready to consume the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic novel. With a compelling lead cast capable of cosmic heights including, Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa and Rebecca Ferguson, Villeneuve has previously discussed the reasoning behind his carefully selected lead character. 

Having hit astronomical cultural heights in the past four years, it was the release of Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name that would truly introduce Timothée Chalamet on the world stage. Boosting his popularity in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird and Little Women, as well as Wes Anderson’s upcoming French Dispatch, Chalamet now finds himself at the very forefront of the industry. A flourishing young actor and an undeniable pop culture heartthrob. 

A fitting choice for the role of Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of a planet’s most valuable asset, the director had very specific reasons for choosing him for the lead role. In an interview at the Shanghai International Film Festival, Villeneuve reports, “Timothée Chalamet was my choice from the beginning. There was just one Paul Adredes on earth right now for me, and there was one name on the list”. 

Explaining his choice, the director noted, “I chose Timothée for several reasons. First of all, he’s a phenomenal actor, he is someone that has a lot of depth, someone that is very mature for his age because Paul Atreides is an old soul in a young body, and Timothée has that”. 

Continuing, Villeneuve added, “First of all, he looks much younger than he is. Sometimes I look in the camera, and he looks like 15 years old. It’s very impressive how young he looks, and Timothée is maybe 23 or something. So that was very useful because he had in the eyes something older, and he’s already very mature for his age so that contrast was very important”.

Elaborating on his appreciation for the young actor, Denis Villeneuve explained, “He has features that remind me of old-school Hollywood movie stars. He’s a real movie star. He has that insane charisma. You put Timothée in front of the camera, and it’s just an explosion, I mean it’s like the camera grabs him!”. 

Concluding, the director outlines exactly why the actor is perfect for the character, stating, “He’s super charismatic and I needed that for Paul. Paul is a young man that at one point will need to rise people, to become a leader – he needs the charisma of a leader, and Timothée totally has that. In a way, I don’t know if he knows it, but he’s a rockstar, and I needed that kind of charisma, and I needed someone that would be able also to portray the layers of Paul”.

Dune is finally released in cinemas on October 21st in the UK and October 22nd in the US, with Timothée Chalamet a highly anticipated feature of the film. 


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