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Stellan Skarsgård Spent 80 Hours in Makeup Trailer on ‘Dune’ Set Transforming into Villain

Skarsgard spent over 30 percent of his time making "Dune" in the makeup trailer.

Stellan Skarsgård in "Dune" as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

Stellan Skarsgård in “Dune” as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

Warner Bros.

Stellan Skarsgård is no stranger to Hollywood tentpoles thanks to his role as Erik Selvig in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the actor gets a far meatier and more domineering studio role in Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming “Dune” adaptation. Skarsgård stars in “Dune” as the villainous Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. “Dune” author Frank Herbert described Baron as “grossly and immensely fat” in his 1965 novel, and that descriptor sent Skarsgård into the makeup trailer for hours in order to properly transform into the villain. As the actor told The Daily Beast, he spent about 30 percent of time making “Dune” in the makeup trailer.

“I did eight or ten days on the movie, so my character doesn’t show up for too much, but his presence will be felt,” Skarsgård said. “He’s such a frightening presence where even if he doesn’t say anything, I think you’ll be afraid of him. And I’m extremely fat. I had eight hours in the makeup chair every day. And in some scenes, I look very tall because I levitate. You’re going to have a lot of fun with it.”

Why did Skarsgård want to get involved with the “Dune” film adaptation? “The thing about it, and why I’m looking forward to this film as well, is because it’s Denis Villeneuve,” he said. “Whatever he does, he creates an atmosphere that is dance, that you can touch, and you’re just sucked into it. You’re never bored — even if he does long, slow takes. The atmosphere builds up, and you’re in his universe. I think it will be the same with this one. He’s lovely to work with, and a beautiful man.”

Back in September 2019, Skarsgård got “Dune” fans buzzing when he said that Villeneuve was in full creative control of the movie. Studio interference is what drove David Lynch to disown his own “Dune” adaptation in 1984, but that wasn’t the case with Warner Bros. and Villeneuve during the production of the most recent “Dune.”

“It’s going to be directed by a true filmmaker. It’s not going to be directed by the studio,” Skarsgård said at the time. “It seemed like they were giving him pretty free hands. And you have to, because his personal stamp on the film is paramount for the success of it.”

With the MCU and “Dune” under his belt, Skarsgård is next tackling the “Star Wars” franchise as part of the cast of the upcoming Disney+ series “Andor.” The show is a prequel to “Rogue One” and centers on Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor. Similar to “Dune,” it was the atmosphere of the creatives involved that drew Skarsgård to “Star Wars.”

“When I saw ‘Rogue One,’ it had much more atmosphere and seemed a little more mature — and that was Tony Gilroy, who’s the showrunner on this one. So, hopefully this one will be a little more than little plastic people falling over.”

Head over to The Daily Beast’s website to read Skarsgård’s most recent interview in its entirety. “Dune” is scheduled to open in theaters and HBO Max from Warner Bros. on October 2.

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