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Let’s Fan-Cast Frank Herbert’s DUNE

Let’s Fan-Cast Frank Herbert’s DUNE

Frank Herbert’s Dune is a classic entry in the sci-fi novel genre. The complex story is set on the fictional Arrakis but pushes into themes and topics relevant to real life. If you’ve been curious about reading or re-reading Dune, I covered it in detail in Nerdist Book Club a while ago and the posts might help you along. If you’ve read Dune at least once, let’s discuss fan casting.

Dune has been adapted a couple of times, and on Monday we learned that Legendary has picked up the rights tofuture film and TV projects. There was the 1984 film directed by David Lynch. Then there was the three-part miniseries that aired on Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy) in 2000. It was almost turned into a film by Alejandro Jodorowsky in the early ’70s; Jodorowsky’s Dune documents the unfinished and unreleased project. Between all of those on-screen turns, some casting has been spot on–like Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck and William Hurt as Leto Atreides. Oh! And Max von Sydow as Liet Kynes.

But if I had the opportunity to select the cast for a brand new adaptation (come on, Legendary, I can do a great job!), I have some ideas. In no particular order, this is who I’d choose to play the major characters:

Paul Atreides

There’s no one quite like Paul Atreides. He makes a lot of mistakes, but despite being green around the ears and immature at times, he accomplishes much despite his youth—he’s 15 when Dune begins. I know Tom Holland is busy with the whole Spider-Man business, but he could rise to the challenge of the role. [Image: Marvel, Mariam]

Baron Harkonnen

Baron Harkonnen is manipulative, ruthless, and grotesque. In other words, his “I’m a Villain” recipe was baked to perfection. Could you imagine how delicious Brendan Gleeson would be as the Baron?

Princess Irulan

Irulan’s role in the first book of the Dune series may seem small, but she observes and documents. She has a quiet, confident air. In some ways, she reminds me of Padmé. Tiya Sircar could bring such pizzazz to the role.

Lady Jessica

The Bene Gesserit and Reverend Mother Jessica is perhaps the strongest character in Dune. Selfish? Yeah, sometimes. But she bears so much and gets shit done. Kate Winslet has the poise and backbone to make Jessica come alive. [Image: HBO, iiiicy]

Gurney Halleck

I know Gurney Halleck is a master of war and exceptionally talented with weaponry, but he’s also charming with a joking side. With his affinity for music, I always picture him as a bard type. So… how about David Tennant?

Duncan Idaho

Duncan Idaho’s a tricky one to cast. He’s a supremely talented Swordmaster and fighter who’s popular with the ladies. If I could pick another fictional character to portray him, I’d go with Inigo Montoya. But as far as actual actors, maybe we could gender-swap the role and Gina Torres could step in?

Duke Leto Atreides

Regal, sharp, even-handed—Duke Leto Atreides possessed some quality traits. He was gone far too soon, but he influenced many around him, including Paul and Lady Jessica. Liam Neeson could nail Leto’s self-possession and determination.

Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen

Feyd-Rautha is meant to be the Harkonnen heir, and he is smart and capable. However, he’s also incredibly cruel–which is actually a prized Harkonnen trait. He’s about the same age as Paul, so Liam Hemsworth might be a touch out of the range, but boy, I’d like to see him take on a villainous role. [Image: Lionsgate Films, Bibi]

Thufir Hawat

The Mentat Thufir Hawat has served House Atreides for generations as the Master of Assassins, but he ends up being, uh, acquired by Baron Harkonnen. He’s serious, feisty, and oh so sneaky. Idris Elba would do a marvelous job.

Liet Kynes

As the imperial ecologist of Arrakis, Liet Kynes did his duty and worked on terraforming the climate of the desert planet into a more hospitable world with more water and growing things. He also secretly led the Fremen. Given the compassion and industriousness we saw Shaun Toub bring to Iron Man, he’d rock playing Kynes.

Glossu Rabban

Rabban, a.k.a. the Beast, has all of Baron Harkonnen’s worst qualities without an ounce of the cunning. He’s a brute, violent force. I nominate Rory McCann.


Stilgar is wise, patient, and grizzled–we know what all the sand did to Obi-Wan, it’s the same on Arrakis. Anyway. How perfect would Liam Cunningham be as the Fremen leader? [Image: HBO, jacquelin]

I know you have opinions about this. Head to the comments and tell me who you’d cast in a Dune adaptation. As you might have noticed, Chani’s missing from my list. I can’t think of the right actress. Help me out! While you’re at it, tell me what kind of format you think would work best—film, limited TV series, etc.

And no, I didn’t mean to pick three actors named Liam.

Featured Image: Syfy Channel

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