'Dune' Debuts New Images Of Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, And More; Director Denis Villeneuve Teases "Complex" Two-Parter

Be still(suit) our beating hearts: new Dune images have arrived. Denis Villeneuve's highly anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel has debuted a slew of new images featuring the film's ridiculously good-looking cast, including Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, and of course, Timothée Chalamet as the reluctant hero Paul Atreides.

There was a little cause for concern when the first image out of Denis Villeneuve's Dune was bleak and cold, without a sandy dune in sight. Was this the Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 directing practicing his minimalist aesthetic, to the detriment of the rich world he was set to adapt? The new images, debuted by Vanity Fair, prove that's not so. Vanity Fair has a jam-packed new report about the upcoming Dune that is as dense with new details as Herbert's notoriously complex 1965 novel.

The new images, courtesy of photographer Chiabella James, show us that while Villeneuve is making a few changes to Herbert's seminal sci-fi epic, it also remains close to the spirit and more idiosyncratic elements of the novel — primarily, the rather uncool-looking stillsuit. The full-body suit, which comes with the unflattering nose plug that baffled many in David Lynch's infamous 1984 film, is intact in Villeneuve's film, though the suit looks a bit more tactile and weathered. Chalamet, who plays the protagonist Paul Atreides, the heir to the noble House Atreides, in particular is rocking that nose plug like nobody's business, along with Rebecca Ferguson, who plays his mother Lady Jessica.

Paul's parents Duke Leto and Lady Jessica (Oscar Isaac and Rebecca Ferguson), were also expanded upon — namely Ferguson's Lady Jessica. A member of the Bene Gesserit, a sect of women who can read and control minds, Lady Jessica kind of gets the shaft in the latter half of the novel, which Villeneuve doesn't want to happen. In the script, which Villeneuve co-wrote with Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts, "she is even more fearsome than before," Vanity Fair notes.

House Atreides are locked in a battle for power with the criminal House Harkonnen, led by the ruthless Baron Vladimir (Stellan Skarsgård). In the book, and in David Lynch's infamous 1984 film, Baron Vladimir was a nearly deformed monster, whose appetite for food was only outmatched by his appetite for young boys. And while Skarsgård, who does not appear in the new pictures, dons full-body prosthetics to play this monstrous character, Villeneuve seeks to add more dimension to a character he saw as "flirting very often with caricature." That's why he cast Skarsgård, Villeneuve said, adding, "Stellan has something in the eyes. You feel that there's someone thinking, thinking, thinking—that has tension and is calculating inside, deep in the eyes. I can testify, it can be quite frightening."

Unfortunately, Vanity Fair doesn't have an image of Skarsgård in those prosthetics, but very fortunately for us, we do have an image of Isaac as Duke Leto, donning armor and a beautiful, magnificent beard.

Another character gets completely gender-bent altogether. Dr. Liet Kynes, the lead ecologist on Arrakis who is typically depicted as a white man, is now played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Rogue One), a black woman. "What Denis had stated to me was there was a lack of female characters in his cast, and he had always been very feminist, pro-women, and wanted to write the role for a woman," Duncan-Brewster said. "This human being manages to basically keep the peace amongst many people. Women are very good at that, so why can't Kynes be a woman?"

Rounding out the cast are Jason Momoa as Paul's combat trainer Duncan Idaho (looking very romance-cover hero with his deep v-neck) Josh Brolin as Paul's weapons teacher Gurney Halleck, Dave Bautista as Harkonnen enforcer Glossu Rabban, Charlotte Rampling as the Bene Gesserit reverend mother, Javier Bardem as the leader of the Fremen tribe Stilgar, and Zendaya as Chani, a mysterious woman who appears to Paul in his dreams.

It's a lot of characters to juggle and a lot of mythology to condense into a film, which is why Villeneuve was insistent on splitting Dune into two films. Villeneuve wouldn't say where the split would take place in the story, but promises two films that tackle a wide breadth of topics — politics, religion, ecology, spirituality — all within a space adventure:

"I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie. The world is too complex. It's a world that takes its power in details... It's a book that tackles politics, religion, ecology, spirituality—and with a lot of characters. I think that's why it's so difficult. Honestly, it's by far the most difficult thing I've done in my life."

For more images and additional details, make sure you check out the full Vanity Fair piece. Dune is set to hit theaters on December 18, 2020.