Casting Dune (2014)
Well, according to this link (http://www.deadline.com/2011/03/paramount-ends-4-year-attempt-to-turn-frank-herberts-dune-into-film-franchise/), the Paramount deal is dead in the water and the rights have reverted back to the original owner, who while he still seems interested in shopping it out to another studio, I have my doubts. Still, I think this original post is still a fun way to dream about the ideal cast, IF another version ever gets made at this point.
Here I give my own(exalted) opinion of who would be a great fit for the major roles. I’ve listed a first and second choice for the main cast. Most of my choices are relatively unknown in the US, but I think that would be a wise route for Morel to take. Casting only bankable US actors could backfire big time in such an epic.
Paul “Muad’ Dib” Atreides
Character Description: Paul begins the novel as a highly intuitive young boy – skilled in the arts of combat and mental agility. He is the heir to one of the great noble houses of the universe, and might be the key to an ancient prophecy. Paul must age in the movie from a young teen to an adult.
First Choice: Ben Whishaw. Ben is best known for playing immortal poet John Keats in the indie flick Bright Star and for playing Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited. He’s capable of the depths of the role, and manages to look either young or deceptively older depending on the role. He could believably look innocent and conceal depths of emotion and cunning. Proof? Watch his eerie lead performance in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. I think being a relative unknown here in the U.S. could work to the film’s advantage.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0924210/
Alternate: Ben Barnes. I’m not sure if he could manage the depths that Whishaw can, but he did show some range as the spoiled and vain titular character in The Portrait of Dorian Gray, and was a handsome action hero in Prince Caspian. I think the role should go to a relative unknown – especially for US audiences.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1602660/
Duke Leto Atreides
Character Description: Duke Leto is Paul, the protagonist’s, father. Leto is commanding yet fair to his people and holds true love for his concubine – Lady Jessica.
First Choice: Mark Strong. He was amazing as the villain Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes, and has been consistently wonderful in many a small role in British cinema.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0835016/
Alternate: Martin Csokas. He was one of the best things about Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, playing the dastardly Guy de Lusignan. He can also play an aristocratic good guy to the letter - see his performance in Aeon Flux. LOTR fans will recognize him as Celeborn. He’s currently in theaters playing Alice’s father in the Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0190744/
Character Description: Lady Jessica is the mother of Paul and concubine (not a wife, but sworn companion) to Duke Leto. She turned her back on the Bene Gesserit (a mystical and powerful sisterhood who seek to control the bloodlines of the empire) to bear Duke Leto a son rather than a girl who would provide unity with rival house Harkonnen.
First Choice: Cate Blanchett. Yeah, she’s a big name and would probably never consider it, but she’s got the range and the ability to travel the extremes of Jessica’s story. It’s tough to find the balance between cold beauty and fiery strength that personifies Jessica’s character. Blanchett’s not afraid to tackle a tough role, and it would be her first foray into true sci-fi (if you count LOTR as fantasy).
Alternate: Elizabeth Mitchell. Possibly a surprising choice, but after seeing her work on LOST as Juliet, she can definitely tackle the role. She’s another beautiful actress who can play steely/powerful quite well. It could be a career-making role if the film lives up to expectations.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0593310/
Character Description: Although not as central in the first book as in later volumes, Duncan is Paul’s mentor and trainer. He is the Swordmaster to the Atreides.
First Choice: Richard Armitage. Who you say? If you lived over the pond you would know. He’s best known for playing a brooding Guy of Gisborne in the BBC’s Robin Hood re-boot (seen here on BBC America)and as an agent in their highly popular Spooks series (known here as MI5).
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0035514/
Character Description: Gurney is also a mentor to young Paul. He is a warrior and also a devoted musician.
First Choice: Sam Neill. Neill has a knack for playing mentor roles (Jurassic Park, The Tudors). He’d also be believable as a love interest for Jessica (as well as an expanded role) should the sequels ever materialize.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000554/
Character Description: The fat, vile baron is the sworn enemy of House Atreides.
First Choice: Ray Winstone. Winstone’s performance as Mr. French in The Departed was menacing and crafty. He is heavy-set with a booming, powerful voice and a twinkle in his eyes. Yet it was his stunning leading role in a 200o miniseries as Henry VIII that I believe qualifies him for being a perfect baron. Let’s face it – Henry VIII WAS a 16th century real-life Baron…
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0935653/
Alternate: Brendan Gleeson. This powerhouse Irish actor was fantastic in Gangs of New York, and impressive as Mad Eye Moody in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0322407/
Glossu “Beast” Rabban
Character Description: the Baron’s blundering, blood-thirsty nephew
First Choice: Jason Flemyng. He’s a little long in the tooth for the role, but I think his physique and demeanor are perfect. He was one of the only saving graces in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and played a psychotic brother role well as Primus in the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002076/
Character Description: the Baron’s vain and buff nephew and heir.
First Choice: Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Morel has already worked with him in To Paris, With Love. He’s buff and can play “bad” (see Henry VIII in The Tudors). He has already played a slightly deranged fellow as Steerpike in BBC’s Gormenghast miniseries.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001667/
Emperor Shaddam IV
Character Description: Blustering, power-hungry emperor of the Imperium and known universe
First Choice: Bill Nighy. Seriously – what CAN’T he do? He can eat this role for breakfast.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0631490/
Alternate: Jason Isaacs. He’s currently playing evil patriarch Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, and first broke out as the evil Colonel Tavington in The Patriot.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005042/
Character Description: Shaddam’s highly intelligent, cold and calculating eldest daughter. Excerpts from her historical writings frame the novel.
First Choice: Romola Garai. She starred as the titular character in this winter’s adaptation of Emma on Masterpiece Theatre. She’s an icy blonde who can play cool well (see her role as the elder Briony Tallis in Atonement), but manage through her eyes to show the torment beneath.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0304801/
Character Description: Shaddam’s closest advisor. Edited out completely of all previously filmed versions of Dune. Let’s hope someone puts him back in the action.
First Choice: Michael Sheen. This British character actor gave gravitas to the Underworld franchise as the Lycan leader, and was wonderful in Frost/Nixon. He manages to be threatening with a glint of supreme intelligence.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0790688/
Reverend Mother Helen Gauis Mohiam
Character Description: Bene Gesserit leader who also works for the emperor. Believes Paul is an abomination – he stands in her way of controlled the bloodlines of the major houses.
First Choice: Lindsay Duncan - This veteran British actress has chewed the scenery in many a mini-series, but is probably most well-known in the U.S. for playing Servilia in Rome and the crazy Brit in Under the Tuscan Sun. She is currently playing Alice’s mother in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0242026/
Character Description: Paul’s Fremen mentor and cheiftain of Sietch Tabr, where Paul seeks refuge.
First Choice: James Frain. He’s a go-to actor and has played a wide range of roles, from intellectuals to bullies. He oozes wisdom from his pores. He’s only 41, but manages to seem older (or at least an old soul). His standout roles have been as Thomas Cromwell in The Tudors and Bassianus in Julie Taymor’s bloodfest adaptation of Titus.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0289656/
Character Description: Fremen girl who becomes Paul’s true love and concubine
First Choice: Alexa Davalos. She’s already a sci-fi vet – having played Kyra in The Chronicles of Riddick and landed a recurring role for Joss Whedon on Angel. She will be seen as Andromeda in this spring’s Clash of the Titans, and was also Daniel Craig’s love interest in Defiance. She’s a babe, but can also handle her weapons – perfect for Chani.
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1111968/
It should be interesting to see what happens when the casting news for this re-boot surfaces. Here’s hoping for a dream cast!
NOTE REGARDING COMMENTING ON THIS POST:
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