Dune Part 2's rumored villain casting is an inspired choice

Timothée Chalamet in Dune
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

We Can't Help Falling in Love with the latest casting news around Dune Part 2. 

As first reported by Deadline, Elvis star Austin Butler is in talks to portray the main villain, Feyd-Rautha, in Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming sequel – a role famously played by Sting in David Lynch’s 1984 Dune adaptation. 

The news follows Florence Pugh’s recent attachment to Dune Part 2; the Black Widow star is reportedly close to joining the movie’s cast as Princess Irulan Corrino, the eldest daughter of Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV. 

The star power of Butler, who is best known for his role as Tex Watson in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is poised to rise significantly following his highly-anticipated portrayal of Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming biopic (set to hit theaters on June 24 this year).

In Frank Herbert’s Dune novel, Feyd-Rautha is the youngest nephew of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen – who was played by Stellan Skarsgård in Villeneuve’s 2021 adaptation – and, as heir to the Harkonnen empire, is described as being equally wicked. He’s also a skilled warrior, and looks set to prove a worthy adversary to Timothée Chalamet's Paul Atreides.

Interestingly, Butler’s association with the role comes rather out of the blue. Prior to news of his negotiations with Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, Eternals' Barry Keoghan was hotly tipped to inherit the Feyd-Rautha mantle in Villeneuve’s sequel (the Irish actor told ScreenRant he would "definitely" be interested in the role).

For our money, though, Butler has the chops (and the menacing physical presence) to prove an equally inspired casting choice, should his involvement be confirmed. 

Austin Butler in Elvis

Austin Butler in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Elvis biopic (Image credit: Warner Bros. )

With Butler and Pugh both seemingly close to putting pen to paper, then, the only outstanding character to be cast in Dune Part 2 remains Emperor Shaddam Corrino himself. If we were a betting publication, we’d wager that the likes of Giancarlo Esposito, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne and Mads Mikkelsen are already part of that conversation. 

Analysis: Will Villeneuve’s Dune form a trilogy? 

Despite releasing simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max, Denis Villeneuve’s big-budget Dune adaptation was able to snag $400 million at the global box office, making it one of the most successful feature-length releases of the pandemic era. 

The movie has since earned itself myriad award nominations – including nods for 10 Academy Awards and 11 BAFTAs – and secured the green light for a sequel, but director Villeneuve has also made it known that he’d prefer to tell his Dune story in three parts (i.e. a trilogy). 

"I always envisioned three movies," the filmmaker told Entertainment Weekly in October 2021. "It's not that I want to do a franchise, but this is Dune, and Dune is a huge story. In order to honor it, I think you would need at least three movies. That would be the dream.”

Villeneuve getting his wish won’t depend on the success of Dune Part Two, either – if he intends to shoot this story in three parts, he’ll need to iron out such a plan with Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures prior to the start of filming on the sequel.

Speaking of which, Dune Part 2 is expected to begin shooting in summer 2022 ahead of a possible October 2023 release. Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine, though, could significantly hamper that schedule, given that a large portion of Dune’s production took place in Hungary (which borders Ukraine). That is, of course, assuming that Villeneuve plans to shoot the sequel in the same locations.

For more Dune-based content, check out our chat with Villeneuve about the first film's development. Alternatively, read our in-depth feature with Dune's behind-the-scenes crew to find out more about bringing the world of Arrakis to life.

Axel Metz
Senior Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.