the Dunes The novel may have been director Denis Villeneuve’s dream project to adapt, but it wasn’t first on the list for Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), while the screenwriter of last year’s sci-fi epic shared that he’s never been a big fan of Frank Herbert’s source material.
The acclaimed 1965 Dune book is set in the distant future and follows the Atreides family accepting stewardship of the dangerous desert planet Arrakis (also called Dune), which contains the universe’s most valuable substance known as “spice”. But having control of a planet with so much wealth means greater conflict for the family to face.
In a new interview with IndieWire, Roth, who co-wrote Dunes with Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts, said he was hesitant at first when he got the call from Villeneuve to work on Dunes. “Then he asked, ‘Would you be interested in doing ‘Dune?’ “And I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m not sure this is my bailiwick. ‘” Roth recalls. “I had read the book. I liked the other science fiction books at least as much: ‘Childhood’s End’, ‘The Foundation’. But ‘Dune’ was a bit populist for me, it was prodigious. I knew that he defined a lot of people, definitely 14, 15 year old boys, who I was close to at that time. But I was never a fanboy.”
The interviewer added that maybe not being a die-hard fan was a good thing, which Roth agreed with. “It’s true. It gave me an objective view of it. I grew up in that era, which ‘Dune’ was such a big part of – psychedelics and all the things that I went through. I was a hippie, I have a lot of children, grandchildren. And so I said, “What am I going to try. What do I have to lose?” added the writer. “I love Denis. He made very good films, very intelligent, a visualist. I said, ‘I’ll try, but maybe I’m a little here for you.'”
While he may not have been the biggest fan, what Roth and the other writers were able to cook up resulted in something memorable on the big screen. Dunes grossed over $400 million at the worldwide box office upon its theatrical release, an impressive amount considering the film was released during a pandemic, and also received rave reviews (as the film garnered 10 nominations for Oscars). With a Dune: part two now officially under construction, Villeneuve and the rest of the team are looking to wrap Herbert’s job up in spectacular fashion.
Whether or not Roth will return to help write the sequel remains a mystery, but is now gearing up to write Martin Scorsese’s. The Moonflower Slayers for Apple TV Plus, his work will continue to make his presence felt among moviegoers. As for Duneswhat’s even more impressive than the highly talented team is the star-studded cast, which includes big names like Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck , Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Zendaya as Chani, Javier Bardem as Stilgar, Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Harkonnen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr Liet-Kynes, and Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban.
Dunes is currently playing in theaters and is available on digital platforms.
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