‘Dune’ Director Denis Villeneuve Praises Timothée Chalamet’s ‘Beautiful Vulnerability’

Timothée Chalamet’s career is hitting a high. He has the lead role in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic Dune. Moreover, his upcoming turn as chocolatier Willy Wonka in Wonka is making 2021 a banner movie year for the Little Women star. Dune director Denis Villeneuve recently spoke out on Chalamet’s sensibilities as an actor. 

Denis Villeneuve once said he had to ‘direct’ Timothée Chalamet’s haircut 

Timothée Chalamet in closeup shot
Timothee Chalamet | Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

As the October 22, 2021 release of Dune nears, so does talk of the movie and its production. In a September 2021 press conference, Villeneuve joked about what it was like to direct rising star Chalamet. 

“I had to direct Timothée and I had to direct his haircut,” he joked, per Deadline. He also laughed that the famed hairdo is “alive,” and that was his greatest challenge. 

Jokes aside, Timothée Chalamet has taken on a very serious role as Paul Atreides. And Dune isn’t necessarily the most straightforward series of novels to adapt. An infamous 1984 version by David Lynch faltered for a number of reasons. A couple of Sci-Fi channel miniseries called Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000), and Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune (2003) took a smaller-scale approach. 

To sum up, Villeneuve says the story endures because it remains relevant throughout the years. 

“The book is far more relevant today about the danger of the cross mix between religion and politics,” he said. “The danger of messianic figures. The impact of colonialism. The problems with the environment. This book stayed with me through the years but it just felt more and more relevant through time. I think it’s time to push and make changes. I still have hope and I think it’s time to get into action.”

Timothée Chalamet also praised the source material 

In a much more recent October 2021 interview with Time Magazine, Chalamet likewise said Dune is relevant to current times. 

Dune was written 60 years ago, but its themes hold up today,” Chalamet tells Time. “A warning against the exploitation of the environment, a warning against colonialism, a warning against technology.”

The actor’s prescience is evident to Villeneuve. In the same article, he expounds on exactly why Chalamet is right for the role of the gifted, destiny-ridden Paul Atreides. 

“Timothée is a thoughtful, poetic spirit,” Villeneuve says. “I am always impressed by his beautiful vulnerability.” 

That vulnerable quality is what made Timothée Chalamet great in his best roles. The lovesick Laurie from Greta Gerwig’s Little Women (2019). Recovering addict Nic Sheff from Beautiful Boy (2018). The desire-consumed teen Elio Perlman from Call Me By Your Name (2017). 

They’re all characters required to wear their hearts on their sleeves. And Chalamet says that’s exactly what he aims to do. 

“I feel like I’m here to show that to wear your heart on your sleeve is O.K.,” he tells Time. 

He next stars as Willy Wonka in a prequel 

His marketability in feature films is ever-growing. Therefore, his next role is a big one. He’ll play iconic Roald Dahl candymaker Willy Wonka in the upcoming Wonka. Neither Chalamet nor director Paul King has said much about the plot of the film. 

But photos emerged between October 10 and 11 showing the actor looking relatively comfortable on set in full Wonka wardrobe. Timothée Chalamet is said to be playing Wonka in his youthful years, leading up to his world domination of all things chocolate. 

It’s yet another role that will likely require a lot of heart from Chalamet. And according to Denis Villeneuve, he’s more than capable of it. 

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