Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s celebrated sci-fi novel Dune is one of the most anticipated films of this year. And while the talented director behind Arrival, Sicario and Blade Runner 2049 is sticking as close to his source material as possible, he has made the bold decision to gender-bend a major character.
Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a young man of royalty set on avenging his assassinated father. The character Villeneuve is gender-bending, Dr. Liet Kynes, is a scientist and the father of Paul’s love interest. In the novel, Kynes was a male. In the upcoming film, however, he’ll be a woman, and played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster.
In a recent interview with Variety, the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story star shared her thoughts on the role, as a colored woman getting to play an originally Caucasian character.
“What Denis had stated to me was there was a lack of female characters in his cast,” she told reporters, “and he had always been very feminist, pro-women, and wanted to write the role for a woman.”
Duncan-Brewster went on to say that, given that Kynes’ role in the story is that of a peacekeeper, it was only logical she’d be played by a woman.
“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? Why shouldn’t Kynes be a woman?”
When it was announced that Villeneuve would be directing the adaptation, fans were overjoyed, and for good reason. Herbert’s legendary sci-fi epic – regarded by many as an equal to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire – has proven notoriously difficult to adapt. With previous attempts for both film and television – including one directed by the infamous David Lynch – having fallen flat on their face, a sci-fi veteran like Villeneuve isn’t simply the best man for the job – he’s the only one.
His cast also seems promising – from a commercial standpoint, at least. As Kynes, Duncan-Brewster will be joined by Timothée Chalamet, who will be playing the lead, as well as other hot names like Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Jason Mamoa, and Javier Bardem.
Dune is set to release on December 18th. Given the ongoing pandemic, however, the date is likely subject to change.