Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, set to come out in December 2020, features one of the most star-studded, deftly-selected casts in recent memory. Fans of the original 1961 book have expressed overwhelming excitement and approval over each role in the film:
Timothee Chalamet as the young Paul Atreides, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Oscar Isaacs as the valiant Duke Leto, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Harkonnen, Zendeya as Chani, Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Javier Bardem as Stilgar, Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, David Dastmcalchian as Piter De Vries, Chang Chen as Dr. Yueh, and Dave Bautista as Raban “The Beast” Harkonnen.
These roles are an example of borderline perfection in casting, but this list leaves out an essential character in the original Dune novel: Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen.
The Harkonnens are the evil power-lusting villains of the intergalactic empire and sworn nemeses of the Atreides family. Baron Harkonnen, who will be played by Stellan Skarsgard, is the incredibly obese pedophilic mastermind leading the gluttonous family. His nephew, Feyd-Rautha, is a cruel sadist who was iconically portrayed by Sting in the 1984 film adaptation directed by David Lynch.
The actor set to helm this role has not yet been announced for Denis Villeneuve’s take on Dune. There have been some rumors that Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One) is set to play the character, but nothing has been confirmed at this time. The major question plaguing Dune fans besides “Who will be tasked with playing this crucial role?” is “Why hasn’t it been announced, yet?”
To help answer this question I’ve come up with a number of potential answers. Some of them are comforting, some… are not.
Option 1: They’re saving this info for opening day
An optimistic person may believe that Villeneuve is keeping his casting a secret so the audience will express the excitement of learning the identity of the actor while watching the film for the first time. The same was done for the 1995 film Se7en by keeping Kevin Spacey’s casting secret. When the until-then unknown actor arrives, the surprise of seeing them connects to the emotional impact of their character’s entrance into the plot.
This is my favorite of the options and I very much hope it’s the case.
Option 2: He is not in the first film
Another likely explanation is that, due to the adaptation being split into two films, Feyd-Rautha, who does not become a central character until the second half of the book, will not appear at all in the first film and has thus far been left out of all promotional material. This makes sense, and, with an extraordinarily hush-hush production, it would be reasonable for the studio to keep all unnecessary information for this film series a secret.
The production of Dune, however, shot both films at once, so, if there are Feyd-Rautha scenes in the film, the actor must have already shot them. And yes, that “if” certainly is an alarming two letters, indeed. Dune is a massive book with incredible detail and scope. Some thought a quality adaptation would be impossible after the infamous best-movie-never-made adaptation directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky and the heavily criticized Dune (1984) that has since been panned by the director himself, David Lynch.
If it was to be adapted to film, though, it was clear it had to be split into multiple films in order to avoid cutting out crucial quality elements and lowering the overall impact of the story. The novel itself is split into 3 sections with their own beginning, middle, and end, so many hoped the upcoming film would be a trilogy a la Lord of the Rings.
In a bit of a strange move, the film will actually be split into two films, which would probably still require a bit of cutting. This leads me to the third and most sinister option:
Option 3. He has been cut from the script!
Dun-Dun-DUUHH… Probably not, actually.
Upon the news that there will be two films instead of three, the immediate question leftover is “what was cut out?” Is it reasonable to think Feyd-Rautha might not appear in these films? Could Denis Villeneuve have made such drastic changes to the story?
Early in the Dune Novel, Feyd-Rautha makes an appearance alongside the introduction to the rest of the Harkonnen family. It is short, but his presence is not pointless. This ultimately raises worries about how much has been altered from the book. If key characters are missing from important scenes what else could be changed?
I seriously doubt we won’t see Feyd-Rautha in at least the sequel to the 2020 release, but his exclusion from the promotions does raise questions about the faithfulness of the adaptation. Thus far Villeneuve’s Dune looks to be an incredibly faithful adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic novel, but the unknown Feyd-Rautha situation raises a hair of doubt on an otherwise flawless early marketing campaign.