Austin Butler is swapping Graceland for the planet Arrakis in Dune 2, the sequel to Denis Villeneuve's 2021 sci-fi epic. The Elvis star is set to face off against Timothée Chalamet's Paul Atreides as Feyd-Rautha, the nephew of Stellan Skarsgård's villainous Baron Harkonnen.
Speaking to Total Film in our new issue, which features Dune 2 on the cover and is out this Thursday, Butler tells us: "Denis described him to me as having a psychotic nature, but yet there’s something sort of seductive about him as well. And he’s hungry for power. I started thinking: 'Well, how did he grow up? What would his voice sound like? How would he breathe? How would he move?' That was the real fun, where you start filling in all those details, and putting meat on the bone."
Feyd-Rautha has a dangerous allure that makes him the "rock star of the family" according to Villeneuve. "He’s the beautiful Baron nephew. A playboy. A very sexy, charismatic, psychotic killer," the director says. "There’s something erotic about it. Everybody needs to be moved by his beauty. And Austin was perfect for that."
Butler famously immersed himself in the King for his leading role in Elvis, but could he have done the same thing with Feyd-Rautha? "With Feyd, I didn’t think it would be healthy to live in that head-space 24 hours a day. So, I created rituals around it in the hair and make-up chair where I could start shifting my mind over," he explains.
"That allowed more freedom to feel that I could go further in the film, because I knew that it wasn’t going to get out of hand. Once you know that, then it’s so much fun, because he’s so different from me. There’s a challenge in that, but there’s something liberating about immersing yourself in this other way of being. There were possibilities that don’t exist with other characters that were very fun to explore."
Dune 2 releases on March 1. You can read more about it, and a whole lot else besides, in the new issue of Total Film when it hits shelves and digital newsstands on Thursday, February 1. Check out the covers below:
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