Timothée Chalamet Raced to Finish Reading ‘Dune’ for First Time After Villeneuve Called to Meet

Chalamet wanted to work with Denis Villeneuve so bad he set up a Google alert to track "Dune."
Warner Bros.

Timothée Chalamet is set to be one of the major stars of fall film festival season as the lead in Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited “Dune,” world premiering September 3 out of competition at the Venice Film Festival. The Oscar nominee touted the space epic ahead of its Venice launch in a new interview with Deadline, where he revealed it was Villeneuve’s involvement that encouraged him to buy Frank Herbert’s novel and read it for the first time. Chalamet went so far as to set up a Google alert on his phone for “Dune” so he could track the project after Villeneuve came on board.

“Not right away—Legendary had the rights and was developing it—but as soon as Denis got involved, I set up a Google alert and that’s when I got the book,” Chalamet said. “In total honesty, I think my understanding of ‘Dune’ at that point was from a graphic novel I’d seen at Midtown Comics when I was shopping for ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ cards when I was about 10.”

Chalamet immersed himself in “Dune” for the sole purpose of wanting to work with Villeneuve, a filmmaker he long admired. The two briefly met at the 2018 BAFTA Film Awards. The actor said, “I kept trying to put myself in front of him, but I didn’t really get a sense of the possibility [of working with him].”

“I was about halfway through the [‘Dune’] book when I got the call that [Villeneuve] was going to be the president of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, and I was in London prepping ‘The King,'” Chalamet continued. “He asked me if I could come out there, so I quickly busted through the second half of the book as best I could. So, like, the first half of my copy is properly annotated and full of my thoughts, and then the second half I just raced through. And then I had that meeting with him, and it was such a joy.”

“Dune” is designed to be the first installment in a two-part adaptation of Herbert’s book, meaning Chalamet is expected to return if the movie is successful enough to warrant its intended follow-up. The actor is already looking forward to “Dune: Part Two” for the same reason Denis Villeneuve is excited for it: A bigger role for Zendaya.

“Chani will play a huge role in the next film. I don’t know if there’s a script yet, but just based on the book, along with Lady Jessica [Rebecca Fergusson], they have a lot to do together, let’s put it like that,” Chalamet said. “And Zendaya was incredible in this movie; the moment she pulls the mask down, it felt properly showstopping and powerful. I was hiding behind the camera, counting my lucky stars, because I was there in month two of the shoot and here was a total powerhouse just coming in for the first time.”

“Dune” opens in theaters and HBO Max on October 22.

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