Director Denis Villeneuve has said Florence Pugh and Austin Butler will star as a princess and prince in the second instalment of Dune, while Lea Seydoux will play a lady.
The follow-up to the Oscar-winning film, set for release on November 3, will explore the journey of Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) as he unites with Chani (Zendaya) and the Fremen to take revenge on those who conspired to destroy his family.
The films have been adapted from Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel of the same name, and British actress Pugh joins the cast as Princess Irulan, daughter of the supreme ruler of the galaxy, Emperor Shaddam IV, played by Christopher Walken.
Villeneuve, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jon Spaihts, told Vanity Fair: “Her stake could not be higher because she’s afraid that her father could lose the throne, could lose everything.
“When I met Florence, I was struck by her assurance, how grounded she is as a young woman, how direct, how unapologetic.
“She has something inherently royal about her. I will definitely believe that Florence could become, in the future, a prime minister.”
Helping engineer the collapse feared by Princess Irulan is Harkonnen Prince Feyd-Rautha, played by US actor Butler.
Originally played by British musician Sting in a 1984 adaption of the book, Villeneuve compared the assassin to another rock star to describe his film’s interpretation.
“Austin Butler brought to the screen something that would be a cross between a psychotic, sociopath serial killer and Mick Jagger,” he said.
“He’s someone Machiavellian, much more cruel, much more strategic, and is more narcissistic.”
Seydoux will star as “secret agent” Lady Margot Fenring, who is with secret sisterhood the Bene Gesserit.
Villeneuve describes Dune: Part Two as “a war epic action movie”, while the “epicentre” is the love story between Chalamet and Zendaya’s characters.
Zendaya told Vanity Fair: “It was funny trying to figure out in this futuristic space talk, like, how do they flirt?
“What does that look like for a space warrior and the young duke of a planet? How do they show that they like each other? What does that even sound like?
“We were definitely trying to navigate that, which was funny because all of us were stumped. I think it’s just as foreign to us as it probably is to the characters.”
Villeneuve described Zendaya as a “fierce warrior” while Chalamet said her character was the key to his own.
“The universe of Dune is a complex world of geopolitics and with tons of ecological and technological metaphors that hold up today,” he said.
“But at the centre, there’s this relationship where Chani sort of becomes a moral compass.
“Even to say that out loud feels kind of huge, and she’s really the humanising, grounding force to that.”
Dune: Part One was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won six, including for original score, visual effects, cinematography and editing.