'Dune' Sequel Will Make Zendaya's Chani The Protagonist Of The Story

Director Denis Villeneuve is ready for more Dune, and the first one's not even here yet. The filmmaker only agreed to direct an adaptation of Frank Herbert's seminal science-fiction novel if producers allowed him to split the book into two films. The studio agreed, so the upcoming Dune is only the first part of a planned series ... and the second film could change up who's driving the action.

In an interview with La Repubblica (translated by IGN), Villeneuve said that Zendaya will be the primary protagonist in the sequel. Timothy Chalamet's character Paul Atreides is the lead of part one.

Casting Chani

In Dune, the noble House Atreides gains possession of the desert planet Arrakis. The planet is home to one of the universe's most valuable resources, a drug called spice that gives users heightened abilities. Controlling Arrakis means controlling the spice trade, which makes the Atreides family a target of the evil House Harkonnen. Zendaya will play Chani, a member of the Arrakis tribe known as Fremen, who ally with Paul.

"When I did the casting for Chani's character, I met a lot of actresses," Villeneuve told La Repubblica:

"Zendaya wanted to audition and today, after shooting the film and seeing what a wonderful actress she is, I'm sorry I auditioned her. It was just because I didn't know her. However that day, she impressed me and when she left the studio I knew that Chani was her, the young desert tiger. I am honored to present two such explosive talents on screen [Chalamet and Zendaya] and I can't wait to shoot the second part of Dune to get them back together. Knowing that in the next chapter Zendaya will be the protagonist of the story."

Zendaya is an incredible talent. Her work on the HBO drama Euphoria showed that the former Disney Channel star is capable of so much more, and now she's going to get the chance to lead a huge sci-fi franchise entry. As long as the first part of Dune does well enough to ensure the second half gets made, of course.

It's possible that Villeneuve doesn't mean she'll literally play the lead (it's not like Chalamet's Paul vanishes from the story), as this news does come via translation, but a fan can hope. At the very least, she'll probably have a lot more to do in the second film, considering where the story goes.

Bringing Arrakis to Life

Later in the interview, Villeneuve said that one of his main goals with Dune is for the movie to be believable:

"I didn't look for the exotic. I wanted everyday light, not perfect sunsets or sunrises. I wanted it to be accessible and understandable. Only then would viewers focus on the characters and their relationships without being distracted from the frames of the film. So I gave space to nature for what it is, without trying to control or modify it."

That's a pretty big departure from the previous film adaptation of Dune, directed by David Lynch. Lynch's vision was pure fantasy, so it's interesting that Villeneuve has a more grounded take.

Dune will world premiere September 3, 2021 out of competition at the Venice Film Festival. Warner Bros. will release the film for the rest of us in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22, 2021.