Dune: Part Two May Be Narrowing In On Its New Cast Members

Ready to go back to Arrakis, Dune fans? So are we—but before Dune: Part Two can achieve liftoff, director Denis Villeneuve will need to cast a handful of key roles. Spiceheads everywhere are longing to know who’s signing up for the sequel, but ever since the project was greenlit last October, official news on that front has been as dry as Arrakis itself.

As the Dune hive waits with bated breath for any scrap of information, the rumor mill is working overtime. Harry Styles? Robert Pattinson? Florence Pugh?! We’re breaking down the rumored contenders, and putting our stake in the ground for who we think has what it takes to join the sequel. Dream casting can be a treacherous thing, especially when your horse in the race doesn’t make it over the finish line, but don’t be afraid to get attached to your favorites. After all, fear is the mind-killer.

Read on for our guide to the would-be cast of Dune: Part Two.

Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen

We’ve speculated about this casting before, but it remains the lynchpin of Dune: Part Two. Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen is the sadistic and conniving nephew of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, as well as a foil to Paul Atreides. Treacherous and ambitious, Feyd is impatient to inherit his uncle’s title, but the Baron has bigger plans, intending to install his nephew on the throne as Emperor. As the eventual leaders of warring noble houses, Feyd and Paul become bitter rivals, set on a fateful collision course. Feyd must be played by an actor who can go toe-to-toe with Timothée Chalamet, and who can convincingly embody a villain so fearsome that he credibly stands between Paul and ultimate power.

Gossip blog DeuxMoi made waves when it shared a blind item alleging that Harry Styles, Tom Holland, and Robert Pattinson are competing for the same role in Dune: Part Two—presumably Feyd. It appears the blind item may have been true, now that Pattinson is sounding off about his desire to join the sequel. In an interview with Variety, Pattinson spoke about what convinced him to make The Batman with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves. “I love those Apes movies so much,” Pattinson said. “There’s only been two movies—well, three now—where I wanted to do a sequel: the Apes movies, Sicario, and Dune.” Pattinson has a long history of working with visionary directors, so it stands to reason that he’s raring to work with Villeneuve (moreover, it wouldn’t be the first time he played a sociopath who delights in bullying Chalamet). Rumors have also circulated around Eternals star Barry Keoghan, who fanned the flames with a cryptic tweet following the announcement of Dune: Part Two.

As if there weren’t enough contenders already, another actor has entered the fray: Austin Butler, star of Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Elvis, who is reportedly in “the very early stages” of joining the film, according to Variety. And now, a new tidbit of unverified information suggests that Butler may be the actor taking home the gold. An unverified production sheet from Production Weekly lists Butler as part of the cast. Could we finally have our Feyd? Back when Dune: Part Two was confirmed in October 2021, surely no one had Butler on their betting card, but the Dune powers that be must know what they’re doing, right? Repeat this calming mantra after me: “Trust in Denis Villeneuve.”

With so many names swirling, it’s anyone’s race to lose. Despite Butler seemingly pulling ahead, we’re still pulling for Pattinson or Keoghan, who each have what it takes to play a murderous, unhinged maniac. Sorry to the rest—nice guys aren’t wanted here.

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Princess Irulan

In Frank Herbert’s Dune, we meet Princess Irulan through Paul’s eyes: “Paul’s attention came at last to a tall blonde woman, green-eyed, a face of patrician beauty, classic in its hauteur, untouched by tears, completely undefeated.” A political marriage with the Emperor’s daughter allows Paul to secure his position as ruler of the Known Universe, though he saves his love for Chani, his Fremen concubine. Princess Irulan’s adjacency to Paul makes her something of a historian; each chapter of the novel begins with an epigraph from her scholarship about Paul’s life. Though Villeneuve did away with this structure for the first film, it’s possible that Irulan’s writings could return in the sequel.

Rumors are swirling around Florence Pugh and Anya Taylor-Joy, who both embody the physicality Herbert describes. That said, Dune: Part Two needn’t be married to the physical descriptions laid out in the novel; the gender-swapped and race-bent castings of Part One prove that Villeneuve is eager to think outside the box. It looks like Pugh may be pulling ahead in the race, judging by a scoop from The Hollywood Reporter, which reveals that Pugh is currently in talks for the role. But it’s not a done deal yet—the script is still a work in progress, and Pugh is reportedly waiting for the next draft. But her case is getting stronger as the weeks roll on, judging by that unverified production sheet, which lists her as part of the cast alongside Austin Butler. Could Taylor-Joy be out of the running? But it’s not a fait accompli just yet, and there’s also the matter of scheduling conflicts; if Pugh nabs the lead role in the buzzy Madonna biopic, it may knock her out of contention for Dune: Part Two. Oh, to be in such high demand!

A Little Women reunion for Pugh and Chalamet would be welcome (it would be their second time playing husband and wife), but if it comes down to Pugh versus Taylor-Joy, we’re voting for Taylor-Joy, whose gift for regal hauteur is exactly what the role requires. Sorry, to Florence Pugh fans (Esquire’s own included).

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Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV

The Emperor’s machinations are what set the action of Dune in motion—it’s his jealousy of Duke Leto Atreides and his dastardly plotting with House Harkonnen that sets Paul Atreides on the path of destiny. There’s no rumored frontrunner here, only a field of fan castings; the most frequently spotted names include Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Fassbender, and Benicio del Toro. The role requires someone who can play a cunning, prideful man, fated for a calamitous downfall. Sounds like a job for Mikkelsen, if you ask us.

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Alia Atreides

We get a glimpse of infant Alia Atreides in Dune: Part One, cradled in Lady Jessica’s arms during one of Paul’s prophetic visions, but no doubt Part Two will have a bigger role for Paul’s child sister. Because of her exposure to the Water of Life while in the womb, Alia is born a fully-fledged Reverend Mother, making her a psychically gifted adult in a child’s body. Fan casting a child’s role is a tough task, so we’ll wait and see on this one, just as long as it’s not Chris Pratt.

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