One of the last pieces of key casting for Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” was that of the key role of Baron Harkonnen’s other nephew Feyd-Rautha.
Musician Sting played the Feyd role in the 1984 David Lynch film, while Matt Keeslar slipped off his shirt for the part in the 2000 mini-series version. This time out, it’s “Elvis” star and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” actor Austin Butler taking on the role.
Villeneuve’s 2021 film only adapted the first half of the book’s narrative and opted to sideline several key characters like Feyd, Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) and Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken) with all three being introduced here.
Butler recently spoke with Backstage about his preparation for the film and says he worked with a Navy SEAL to get into the right kind of physical shape for the role which requires a certain amount of athleticism and skill with knife fighting and close combat:
“For Dune, there were different challenges [than ‘Elvis’]; there were certain physical things from the first meeting with Denis, [knowing] what his vision was. I worked with this…Navy Seal [guy] who trained me for months beforehand just to get my body into a place where it was available to not only be an imposing physical presence but do whatever was asked of me.”
Butler also revealed that he had to do his training during his commitments to do press for “Elvis”. This included his appearance at the Cannes Film Festival, where he did press during the day and then training at night.
But he’s as committed to this as any other role, the actor saying: “I love living in these other worlds… I just let it consume me.” He also has nothing but high praise for Villeneuve, who helped him really dive into the role:
“[He and I] really try to dig into the humanity of [the character]. It’s that thing of the bad guy in the world doesn’t feel like he’s the bad guy. He feels like he’s the hero of his own story. And that can be a hard thing with certain characters; with others, it’s easier, but you have to not judge the character, and you have to find a way to feel the motivation towards any one of your actions. So, we had a lot of conversations and crafted that together.”
Butler will next be seen in the WW2 mini-series “Masters of Air”, which hails from “Band of Brothers” producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg along with filmmaker Cary Fukunaga. He recently shot a role in Jeff Nichols’ biker movie “The Bikeriders,” and he’s recently been rumored for Marvel’s “Fantastic Four”.
“Dune: Part Two” opens in cinemas on November 3rd 2023.