Dune: Part Two Director Talks Pugh and Butler’s New Characters

Earlier this week, director Denis Villeneuve and stars Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya took the stage at CinemaCon in Las Vegas to screen an early trailer for Dune: Part Two, which gave the crowd its first look at two major additions to the franchise: Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (Austin Butler). The rest of us will have to wait a bit longer to see this footage ourselves. Regardless, the filmmakers were kind enough to share new images of Pugh and Butler in costume with Vanity Fair, which also has fresh insight from Villeneuve as to why fans should be excited to see these characters onscreen.

In Frank Herbert’s original book, Princess Irulan was introduced as the daughter of Emperor Shaddam IV (played by Christopher Walken in Part Two), whose rule over the entire galaxy is threatened when the war between the Harkonnen and Atreides families reaches a tipping point. Irulan is affected by this turn of events as well. Fortunately, Villeneuve says Pugh brought the right amount of gravitas to convey this dilemma in the film.

“Her stake could not be higher because she’s afraid that her father could lose the throne, could lose everything,” said Villeneuve. “When I met Florence, I was struck by her assurance, how grounded she is as a young woman, how direct, how unapologetic. She has something inherently royal about her. I will definitely believe that Florence could become, in the future, a prime minister.” 

Feyd-Rautha, on the other hand, is a much different beast…literally. Butler’s character served as one of the novel’s main antagonists, marked by his good looks and ruthless nature. This is precisely why his uncle, Baron Vladimir (Stellan Skarsgård) has named Feyd-Rautha his successor to lead House Harkonnen. And according to Villeneuve, Butler’s performance is a sight to behold.

“Austin Butler brought to the screen something that would be a cross between a psychotic, sociopath serial killer and Mick Jagger,” revealed Villeneuve. “He’s someone Machiavellian, much more cruel, much more strategic, and is more narcissistic.”

Previously, Sting portrayed Feyd-Rautha in David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune in 1984. But rather than giving him a shock of blonde hair, Butler’s take on the villain is bald and pale-skinned just like the other members of his family, including the baron and Dave Bautista’s Glossu Rabban. However, when it comes to Feyd-Rautha’s relationship with the latter character, the similarities pretty much stop there.

“Rabban wants to please,” explained Villeneuve. “He wants to please the baron. He wants to shine in front of his uncle, but there’s something touching about Rabban because he’s a bad strategist. He’s not very intelligent. Rabban finds himself, at the end of part one, in the position where he doesn’t have the brain to be able to manage and control all these operations. Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen is a very clever, very charismatic figure, and much more brilliant.”

Dune: Part Two will hit theaters on November 3.

Are you excited to see Pugh and Butler join the franchise? Let us know in the comment section below!  

Recommended Reading: Dune (Penguin Galaxy)

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