Dune co-writer, director and producer Denis Villeneuve and producer Mary Parent joined Deadline on Sunday on Warner Bros’ panel for the sci-fi epic at the Contenders Film: Los Angeles awards-season event at the DGA Theater.
“It all started, obviously, with Frank Herbert writing a seminal piece of work,” said Parent. “I think it was around 2013 when myself and my fellow producer Cale Boyter started chasing the rights.” After waiting years for the rights to be secured, Parent “read an article that it was Denis’ dream to make the film.”
“It was the fastest meeting of my life, it was like 45 seconds,” said Villeneuve. “I was dreaming to work on these books for 40 years, and we just shook hands and that was it.”
The latest adaptation of Herbert’s science fiction story takes place in the distant future. The Atreides family accepts the stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, commonly referred to as Dune, where the desert is mined for a valuable resource known as “spice.” A betrayal leads Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), on a treacherous journey.
To make the sci-fi epic of his dreams, realism was a very important factor for Villeneuve.
“I remember saying, as a joke, they didn’t do Jaws in a swimming pool,” he said. “The movie is called Dune, I wanted it to be in a real desert. It was important for me that the art of the book, nature, religion, and biology… I wanted it to be close to life. I wanted the movie to be as grounded in reality as possible, to get the power of nature.”
“The book was the Bible,” he said. “The first thing we said to each other was that we are not doing a remake here, we are making a new adaptation. We are going back to the origin, to the book. For the design, we did it like Frank Herbert, we were inspired by biology and ecology. Everything has been made in relationship with the ecosystem in which these things are they are. There’s a scientific logic to everything.”
In terms of the sequel, Villeneuve said, “The first movie was really an introduction into the world, one of the main challenges was to make sure that the fans of the book would recognize the world, recognize the ideas and poetry, but that people who had never heard about the book or read the book will understand what the movie is about. In the second movie, now that this introduction has been made, it’s gonna be much more playful and cinematically fun to do.”
Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Chang Chen and Sharon Duncan-Brewster co-star, along with Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem. Villenueve directed from a screenplay he co-wrote with Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth.
The pic debuted in Venice and opened October 22 in North America. Watch the trailer here.
Check out the panel video above.
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