Christopher Walken joined Denis Villeneuve’s Oscar-winning adaptation of Frank Herbert‘s sci-fi novel Dune as Emperor Shaddam IV, who rules over the known universe, reveals The Hollywood Reporter. The Emperor got mentioned several times in the first half of the book adaptation, which hit theaters in 2021. However, now Walken is set to put a face to the name, as the deadly enemy of House Atreides becomes a central player in the highly-anticipated Dune: Part Two.
The first half of Villeneuve’s critically-acclaimed adaptation of Dune follows House Atreides being gifted with the spice exploration of the desert planet Arrakis by the Emperor. The gift, however, is a curse in disguise, as the Emperor fears that the Atreides might make a move for his throne. That’s why the Emperor plots with Arrakis’ previous owners, House Harkonnen, to eradicate the Atreides. Villeneuve already revealed that the sequel would show more of House Harkonnen, as Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) starts an intergalactic revolution and challenges the Emperor himself. So, it’s good to know the villain will be in excellent hands.
Walken joins Florence Pugh and Austin Butler as a newcomer to the adaptation. Pugh is set to play Princess Irulan, the daughter of the Emperor. As for Butler, he will be playing Feyd-Rautha, a favorite character that fans missed in the first half of the story. Feyd-Rautha is the nephew of House Harkonnen’s Baron (Stellan Skarsgård), trained to take over the throne once his uncle passes away.
Walken won a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in 1978’s The Deer Hunter, receiving a second nomination for his work in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. The star was lastly seen in the hit series Severance, which just got renewed at Apple TV+.
Dune’s impressive cast also includes Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, Zendaya as Chani, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, Dave Bautista as Glossu ‘Beast’ Rabban, Charlotte Rampling as Gaius Helen Mohiam, Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, and Javier Bardem as Stilgar. Dune’s success led Warner Bros. to almost immediately greenlight a sequel, set to start shooting this July. While Villeneuve has previously said that “a lot of the work has been done already regarding design, casting, locations, and writing,” Dune: Part 2 still has to fit a tight schedule, as the movie will have little more than a year to wrap production and deal with all the special effects the blockbuster needs.
Dune: Part Two’s release date is set for October 20, 2023. There’s also a spinoff series in development focused on the secret sisterhood known as the Bene Gesserit.