While Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides shared only a few moments of screentime with his opposite number Chani in Dune, Zendaya’s character will have a much more prominent role in the sequel, hopefully bringing to the fore the palpable chemistry that many people pointed out between the two stars during the film’s promotional tour.
Apparently, though, powerful chemistry wasn’t the only contributing factor to Zendaya’s hiring when casting director Francine Maisler was looking to bring together an ensemble for what was comfortably one of the most ambitious sci-fi adaptations of the past decade.
In a recent interview with Variety, Maisler was asked if Zendaya was chosen to portray Chani for her status as a household name, or to add diversity to Frank Herbert’s fictional universe on the big screens.
“That was a role where we wanted more diversity. This was before Euphoria debuted. Zendaya was one of five actresses who read for the part. She had incredible presence and her chemistry with Timothée was undeniable.”
Like any sweeping sci-fi saga, Frank Herbert’s Dune universe was packed with a diverse roster of races, species, characters, and creatures. We’ll get the chance to meet many of them in the upcoming Dune: Part Two, and perhaps even a threequel if Denis Villeneuve ever gets around to making it.
As far as Zendaya’s character is concerned, it’s long since been confirmed that Chani will be a much more prominent and imposing presence in the second chapter, which is set to start principal photography this summer.