In a surprising move, director Denis Villeneuve has revealed that Zendaya‘s character of Chani will lead the anticipated Dune 2, assuming we get one. The move comes as such a surprise given the prominence of Timothée Chalamet‘s Paul Atreides standing at the protagonist of both the upcoming film and the novel by Frank Herbert. However, it remains to be seen what Villeneuve has up his sleeve for Dune, set to be released this October, and the character of Chani is a strong female figure in her own right (and Zendaya a strong actress to boot).
Villeneuve revealed this information during an interview with Italian magazine Il Venerdì di Repubblica, and he had the following to say:
“I can’t wait to shoot the second part of Dune to get [Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya] back together. Knowing that in the next chapter Zendaya will be the protagonist of the story.
Chani Kynes is a member of the Fremen and daughter of Liet Kynes, the imperial ecologist and planetologist of Arrakis. Chani forms a close bond with the leader of the Fremen, Stilgar, who is played by Javier Bardem. Chani features prominently in the second half of the Dune novel, introducing Paul and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) to the ways of the Fremen. She stands out so vividly in the mind of Paul due to the prescient visions he often has, as she often appears to him in these. The prescient visions appear to be a major element of the film and do receive some attention in the first trailer released by Warner Bros.
Some liberties are definitely being taken, with the character of Liet Kynes in particular being gender-swapped in the film. Liet will be played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster, and most expect her to be the mother of Chani in this adaptation. Dune is a massive work of science fiction, and these kinds of adjustments can often lead to greater success in film, obviously a vastly different medium from a novel. It does appear that a Dune sequel led by Zendaya will hinge on the success of the first offering, as reports have been made that a second part to adapt the rest of the first novel is expected.
Zendaya is more than capable of leading a second part of this series, as she is coming off an Emmy win for her work on HBO‘s Euphoria. She also is set to return as MJ in Spider-Man: No Way Home later this year, and voiced Lola Bunny in Space Jam: A New Legacy. As for Dune, aside from the ‘expected’ Dune 2, a series for HBO Max centered on the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, aptly titled Dune: The Sisterhood, is on the way.
Dune is set to be released in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22.