It was one of the most head-scratching curiosities of 2021: here was megastar Zendaya, heavily marketed and busily promoting as one of the main stars of the Denis Villeneuve sci-fi epic Dune, playing Chani opposite Timothée Chalamet's Paul Atreides. And yet, when fans actually went to see the movie, they were dismayed to discover that the Emmy-winning actress was barely in it. (She allegedly only filmed for a week on the first Dune film, appearing in roughly seven minutes total of the two-and-a-half-hour movie.)
Thankfully, given the number of Oscars and the amount of box office money that Dune raked in, a planned sequel was quick to follow and this time, Zendaya's Chani will graciously be getting a lot more screentime this time around. The official Dune TikTok account proved as much with a recent behind-the-scenes video of the Euphoria star filming the much-anticipated Dune: Part Two:
In the 30-second clip, we can see Zendaya joking around on set with her fellow Dune: Part Two castmates, including Chalamet. Though Chani primarily appears as visions to Chalamet's Paul Atreides in the first film, in the sequel, she's a flesh-and-blood Fremen woman ready to fight in Arrakis' upcoming war against Emperor Shaddam IV and the Harkonnens.
Her character and the protagonist strike up a romance in the original Dune story, the 1965 novel of the same name from Frank Herbert, so it's not a surprise that the performer will have a heavier screen presence for the second one. (Here's what she had to say about figuring out how to flirt in "futuristic space talk" with Timothée.)
The TikTok video shows Zendaya exploring the film's fittingly sandy practical sets and sporting the textured, heavily detailed costumes from designers Jacqueline West and Bob Morgan (for which they earned an Oscar nomination). The actress says in the clip:
Being on these sets with these incredibly talented people, it surpasses any dream I've ever had. We joke, we just have a lot of fun. There are so many practical sets. I step into a set where I already feel like I'm on a different planet. It's so special what we're doing.
And she's not the only one seemingly pleased by her expanded role in the second film—Chalamet also celebrated the fact that he got to work more closely with Zendaya to expand Paul and Chani's story in the sci-fi sequel and promised that "we get the full Chani effect" in the upcoming movie. Speaking at CCXP, the actor said of his co-star:
Me and Z hit it off right away on the first one. She said she was only there for about a week, this time, we get the full Chani effect in the movie. We get the beautiful story between Paul and Chani, we get more sandworms. It's an epic adventure, I think you guys are all gonna love it.
Moviegoers will be able to see exactly how much more screentime Zendaya gets in the Arrakis-set adventure when Dune: Part Two debuts on the 2024 movie schedule on Friday, March 1.