Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet brave desert dystopia in Dune: Part Two

Los Angeles, California - Wonka star Timothée Chalamet transforms into a desert warrior chief in the second film of the blockbuster Dune sci-fi saga – an environmental fable about power, faith, and fanaticism.

Zendaya (l.) and Timothée Chalamet are reprising their roles as Chani and Paul, respectively, in the upcoming sequel to 2021's Dune.
Zendaya (l.) and Timothée Chalamet are reprising their roles as Chani and Paul, respectively, in the upcoming sequel to 2021's Dune.  © Collage: IMAGO / Landmark Media

Fresh from his musical turn as the legendary chocolate maker, the French-American actor appeared in Paris ahead of Dune's release at the end of this month alongside co-stars Zendaya, Lea Seydoux, Austin Butler, and Josh Brolin.

Dune: Part Two – the sequel to the 2021 release – marks the moment his character, disinherited prince Paul Atreides, transforms into a vengeful demagogue.

"Paul becomes a leader in his mind," Chalamet (28) told reporters. "The most important thing to a man of power is what he keeps to himself."

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The futuristic epic touches on topical themes: on the hostile planet where Paul finds himself, water has become scarce due to the pillaging of industrial resources. Fantastic beasts such as giant worms run rampant in the desert universe, first imagined by US novelist Frank Herbert in the 1960s. The film was shot in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Hungary, and Italy.

Directed by Canadian former Oscar nominee Denis Villeneuve, the film presents women in powerful roles.

Zendaya leads powerful female characters in Dune: Part Two

(From l. to r.) Timothée Chalamet, director Denis Villeneuve, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgard, and Austin Butler celebrated Dune: Part Two at an event in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday.
(From l. to r.) Timothée Chalamet, director Denis Villeneuve, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgard, and Austin Butler celebrated Dune: Part Two at an event in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday.  © Jung Yeon-je / AFP

Chalamet's co-star Zendaya – the former child actor turned Spider-Man superstar, plays his lover Chani, a desert warrior stung by the compromises he makes to become a leader.

The director "really gave her strong convictions," the actor and model said.

"He gave her... something to believe in that was contrary to what everybody around her believes in. For me, it allowed for... complicated internal feelings happening constantly."

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French actor Lea Seydoux – known internationally for starring in James Bond and Mission Impossible films – plays a member of the Bene Gesserit, mystical sages who pull the strings behind the scenes.

Another newcomer to the film series is Austin Butler – star of Baz Luhrmann's Elvis and the series Masters of the Air produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.

Californian actor Butler plays the sociopath Feyd-Rautha – portrayed by Sting in David Lynch's 1984 version of Dune – alongside another charismatic villain, played by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard (Chernobyl, Andor).

To get in shape for the fight scenes, Butler said he practiced with a "Navy Seal friend" who "kicked my a**."

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / Landmark Media

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