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Denis Villeneuve Forgot He Rejected Timothée Chalamet for ‘Prisoners’ When They Met for ‘Dune’

"He did a great audition, but he didn't physically fit the part," Villeneuve says about Chalamet and "Prisoners."

Denis Villeneuve and Timothee Chalamet

Denis Villeneuve and Timothee Chalamet

AP/Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.’ upcoming “Dune” adaptation offers moviegoers the chance to see the debut collaboration between Denis Villeneuve and Timothée Chalamet, but it turns out the science-fiction tentpole is not the first time the director and the actors’ paths have crossed. In a new GQ cover story, Villeneuve reveals he turned down casting Chalamet in his 2013 kidnapping thriller “Prisoners.” Even better, Villeneuve forgot Chalamet auditioned for the movie when they met years later for “Dune.”

As GQ reports: “When they met to discuss [‘Dune’], Villeneuve told Timothée how happy he was to finally meet the young actor. And Timothée had to remind him that they’d met before, when Timothée read for Villeneuve’s ‘Prisoners.’ ‘Of course!,’ Villeneuve remembered. ‘He did a great audition, but he didn’t physically fit the part. He was probably swearing at me because I didn’t take him.'”

At the time “Prisoners” was being cast and produced, Chalamet had not yet broken into movies. The actors’ biggest credits at the time were an eight-episode stint on Showtime’s “Homeland” and a four-episode run on USA Network’s “Royal Pains.” Villeneuve passed on Chalamet and the young actor would have to wait for 2014 to make his big screen debut in Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women & Children” and Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar.”

“Dune” marks a career-defining role for Chalamet as it is the first time he is leading a studio blockbuster. Villeneuve told GQ that Chalamet more than lived up to the challenge of leading his first tentpole

“It didn’t show when he was on set, but I think for him the big thing was to learn how to create his own bubble on set,” Villeneuve said. “So that he would not have to try to be the friend of everyone. When you’re on a smaller set, when there’s 25 people, you can be friendly with 25 people. When there’s 800 people around, you cannot be friends with 800 people. It’s too much. So how to save your energy, how to focus, how to give himself permission to be in his bubble and make sure that his bubble is respected.”

Villeneuve said Chalamet’s relationship with cast members Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, and Jason Momoa helped the actor with his shift from indies to large-scale studio productions. As the filmmaker noted, “I felt like Timothée was deeply seduced — or maybe not seduced, but I just felt it was like a kid being with older brothers. He was younger, he was the little one on set, and everybody loved him.”

“There’s a scene in the movie where Timothée runs into the arms of Jason Momoa, and Jason grabs him like a puppy and lifts him into the air like he was a feather. And that’s real!” Villeneuve said. “They really loved each other. It was very beautiful to see this young man being influenced by these people he admires.”

Warner Bros. recently announced it was pushing “Dune” from its original December 18, 2020 release date to October 2, 2021. Head over to GQ’s website to read Chalamet’s cover story in its entirety.

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