Casting can’t be easy. Even if you hire the most capable actor on the planet there’s no guarantee they’ll be perfect for the role.
The more high-budget and high stakes the movie the more pressure that must be. Dune director Denis Villeneuve took a big gamble on himself and the film when he decided to only shoot the first part of Dune in the hopes that it would be popular enough to justify a second. That means there was an enormous expectation by Villeneuve for actor Timothée Chalamet to nail the role of Paul Atreides.
In a recent conversation with the A.V. Club, Villeneuve revealed that it wasn’t until one scene in particular that he absolutely knew he’d made the right choice.
It was the scene where Paul is tested by the Reverend Mother with a deadly needle called the Gom Jabbar at his neck and his hand in a box of pain.
“I will tell you the truth. The thing is, there’s a scene that we shot right at the beginning of the shoot called the Gom Jabbar scene. We go to a strange, unconscious, transformative process and that transformation when we did the scene I saw this transformation into Timothee. And when I saw that power rising into what he brought to the character I saw with my own eyes Paul Atreides becoming something else. When that happened, Timothee didn’t see, but I was dancing behind the camera.”
Apparently, the scene was so well done it caused Villeneuve to spontaneously curse in the interview.
“I was like, ‘Oh god, this is so great. He is so powerful. I am so deeply happy. Thank you to the gods of cinema. I didn’t f**k it up!’ I cast the right Paul Atreides.”
Villeneuve and Chalamet are hard at work on Dune: Part Two currently scheduled for release in October of 2023.