Dune: Everything you need to know about Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic – CNET


Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica Atreides in Dune.

Chiabella James

After Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, director Denis Villeneuve isn’t slowing down with the complicated sci-fi blockbusters. His next epic: Dune. Adapted from the lauded book series by Frank Herbert, Dune 2020 should be very different to director David Lynch’s famously divisive 1984 adaptation.

Here’s everything we know about the new Dune.


Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat, Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica Atreides, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck and Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho in Dune.

Chiabella James

Who are the characters?

Timothée Chalamet will star as young antihero Paul Atreides. Oscar Isaac plays Paul’s father, Duke Leto Atreides. Rebecca Ferguson plays his mother, Lady Jessica. Actor Zendaya plays Paul’s love interest, a mysterious woman with glowing blue eyes named Chani. The two warriors Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho who end up training Paul in combat are played by Josh Brolin and Jason Momoa.

Stilgar, the leader of indigenous people called Fremen is played by Javier Bardem. Stellan Skarsgard plays Baron Vladimir — the leader of House Harkonnen from Arrakis that battles with the Atreides family.

Charlotte Rampling plays the reverend mother of an order of women called the Bene Gesserit who can read and control minds. Paul’s own mother Jessica is also part of the Bene Gesserit.

Sharon Duncan-Brewster plays an ecologist and an independent power broker Dr. Liet Kynes who tries to keep the peace.

What’s it about?

Paul Atreides grows up in an aristocratic family on the planet of Caladan. But when Paul’s father Duke Leto Atreides accepts the job of supervising the dangerous desert planet Arrakis (known as Dune), everything changes in Paul’s life. Leto brings his Bene Gesserit lover Lady Jessica, his son Paul and his advisers to Arrakis.

Arrakis is the only source of the most valuable substance in the universe called the spice (also called melange). Spice is really a powerful drug that can prolong human life and provide super-human mind control powers. The spice can enable intergalactic travelers to “fold space” — and travel faster than the speed of light.


Oscar Isaac looking ready to battle as Duke Leto Atreides in Dune.  

Chiabella James

However, this new job promotion could actually be a trap made by Leto’s enemies who want to be rid of him. Leto ends up clashing with the powerful criminal family known as the House Harkonnen, which is led by the monstrous Baron Vladimir who looks like a humanoid rhino.

Despite all the odds, Leto manages to take control of the spice mining operation. But the presence of giant man-eating sandworms makes everything dangerous.

Here’s the official synopsis:

“A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people.”

“As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence-a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential-only those who can conquer their fear will survive.”

First trailer

Dune’s trailer will drop on Wednesday, Sept. 9. In the meantime, here’s a short teaser:

Differences from the 1984 version

Director David Lynch’s 1984 film, which starred Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, may have eventually attained cult status, but when it was released it was a box office and critical flop. The new Dune is not a remake of Lynch’s revision but something totally different, with a closer connection to the book.

“When I saw Lynch’s adaptation, I was impressed, but it was not what I had dreamed of, so I’m trying to make the adaptation of my dreams,” Villeneuve said in a 2017 interview. “I’m going back to the book, and going to the images that came out when I read it.”

Who’s making it?

Legendary Pictures bought the rights to Dune in 2016. Warner Bros. is distributing the movie with Denis Villeneuve directing. Villeneuve is best known for his movies Arrival and Blade Runner 2049.

Villeneuve, Eric Roth (A Star is Born) and Jon Spaihts (Pacific Rim: Uprising) wrote the screenplay. Dune is based on the sci-fi fantasy novel series by Frank Herbert.

Frank Herbert wrote six novels in the Dune series, beginning in 1965. The books were adapted into David Lynch’s 1984 movie, as well as two TV miniseries. Dune remakes aren’t always easy to get off the ground — a failed 1970s version masterminded by cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky was the subject of the entertaining documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune.

Game of Thrones language creator David Peterson is developing languages for the film. Award-winning film composer Hans Zimmer will be scoring the music for Dune.

When will Dune be released in theaters?

Dune debuts in theaters on Dec. 18, 2020.

“I look forward to a time when we can all get together again as Dune was made to be seen on the big screen,” Villeneuve told Vanity Fair.

Meet the cast

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides

Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica

Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides

Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck

Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban

Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat

Zendaya as Chani

David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries

Chen Chang as Dr. Wellington Yueh

Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr. Liet-Kynes

Charlotte Rampling as Gaius Helen Mohiam

Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho

Javier Bardem as Stilgar

This article was originally published on Sept. 8, 2020, and will be updated as news rolls in.