For a long time, there was a general sentiment in Hollywood that Brian Herbert's seminal sci-fi novel, Dune, was unfilmable. Acclaimed filmmaker Denis Villeneuve took on the formidable task of adapting Dune for the big screen with a huge budget and an illustrious ensemble cast. Stellan Skarsgård will appear in the movie in the role of the main villain, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. In an interview with The Daily Beast, the actor teased his character's distinctive appearance, and the chilling effect the Baron's mere presence has on the story.
"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. 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."
In Herbert's novel, Baron Vladimir Harkonne is presented as a supremely evil being, cruel and sadistic, and possessed of immense cunning that brings his enemies down before him without the Baron needing to get directly involved. One of the most memorable things about Baron Harkonnen is his repulsive appearance, with his immense body needing to be supported by a levitating chair, and poor personal hygiene.
The Dune trailer has shown us a brief glimpse of Baron Harkonnen coming out of what appears to be a mud pit. In a past interview, Villeneuve had spoken of his desire to add more nuance to the Baron, to make him a more rounded character than the almost cartoonishly evil villain that Herbert wrote about. According to Skarsgård, what makes this adaptation of Dune stand out is the filmmaking approach taken by Villeneuve that takes its time building atmosphere.
"The thing about it, and why I'm looking forward to this film as well, is because it's Denis Villeneuve. Whatever he does, he creates an atmosphere that is dense, 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."
Directed by Denis Villeneuve from a script he co-wrote with Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts, Dune stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Zendaya as Chani, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Javier Bardem as Stilgar, Chang Chen as Dr. Wellington Yueh, Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr. Liet Kynes, Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban, David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries, Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Stephen Henderson as Thufir Hawat and Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck. The film arrives in theaters and on HBO Max Oct. 1. The Daily Beast was the first to report this story.