Ever since the very first trailer for Dune: Part Two arrived in early May 2023, I have been wondering what it takes to ride a sandworm. Anyone else? Just me? Seriously, Paul Atreides' first sandworm ride is one of the things I’m excited to see in the sequel to Dune and, during an interview, stars Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya revealed the extraordinary challenges and surreal experiences of filming the iconic sandworm riding scenes. Their insights offer a glimpse into the innovative filmmaking process as wild as the ride itself.
Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi epic sequel Dune: Part Two is scheduled for the 2024 movie schedule, and Timothée Chalamet is reprising his role as the brave Paul. While speaking with Fandango, the Wonka actor and his fellow cast members shared details about the upcoming sci-fi flick. One interesting tidbit was the existence of a specialized team on set, humorously named the "worm unit." As Chalamet explained:
Well, there was a whole worm unit on the movie, literally called the worm unit. They shot, you know, there's a two-minute sequence in the movie that took them four months to shoot or something insane. I don’t know how to describe it, it was absolutely insane. Obviously, the worm wasn't there on the day, so there was a certain process of visualization, but I thought it was fascinating they built very specifically a tiny part of the worm – that sounds weird – would look like.
Zendaya, who plays fierce Fremen warrior Chani (a role that will expand in Part Two), shared her unique experience of trying to portray riding a colossal sandworm authentically. The Spider-Man: Homecoming actress explained:
There's no real frame of reference for riding a sandworm. So you're trying to do it cool and make it look strong – so you’re trying, you’re like OK ‘Do I hold it like this? Do I stand like this? Do I have my leg here?’ So, you're trying to have the strongest worm riding pose, because it's filmmaking, so you're trying to figure it out.
The two actors discuss their experience portraying an action with no real-life counterpart. They admit that they were still trying to figure out how to act with the Sandworms when filming began on the sequel. The Little Women even joked that he was not confident about his arm “technique.” He continued:
It was exhilarating… but… I don't want to speak for Denis, but I don't think they had fully figured out at the end of the first one, there's a visual at the end of the movie of someone riding a sandworm. So I think they were sort of figuring it out but there was definitely a technique to it. You know, I remember going to Z and [laughing] you know, wishing that my arm technique was different.
The two stars and their “worm unit” seem to have mastered the sandworm-riding “techniques,” because the second part of the sci-fi epic looks fantastic. The small preview we’ve had of the worm rides via the trailers look insane. Recently, 10 minutes of the film were screened, and the reactions were filled with praise Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up. For me, cannot come quickly enough. Villeneuve’s film needs to be a blockbuster to ensure that the book adaptations of the beloved Frank Herbert series continue. And, if the director has his way, there will be a third part, too. Also, more films could indeed mean more chances to get glimpses of the mighty sandworms.
Until the second movie releases and there is news about a third, I will just have to settle for revisiting the first movie in preparation for what's to come. Dune: Part One is available to stream with either a Netflix subscription or a Max subscription, while Dune: Part Two hits theaters on March 1.