Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet reflect on their new film “Dune”


Chiabella James

ZENDAYA as Chani in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. © 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

As part of the roll-out of the science fiction movie “Dune,” based on the 1965 novel, Warner Brother Productions gave aspiring collegiate journalists the chance to have a roundtable discussion with actors Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet. 

“Dune” follows the life of Paul Atreides, played by Chalamet, as he navigates his greater destiny while traveling to a dangerous planet to protect his family and people. He must learn to conquer his fears to survive.  

The role of Chani is portrayed by Zendaya. Although her role is small, her overpowering fan base has still brought attention to the film. Zendaya also expressed her experience growing up and being called an “old soul.” She describes Chani as being wise and mature beyond her years, just like herself.

Oscar-nominated director Denis Villeneuve is directing this upcoming film. His previous work consists of “Prisoners,” “Blade Runner 2049” and “Arrival.” Actors who have worked alongside Villeneuve in previous productions had nothing but great things to say. Villeneuve is often credited for his ability to create intimate moments in times where grand events are occurring on the outskirts. 

“I’ve only worked on one film this size, and I just got lucky with Denny,” Chalamet said. “As much as I would like to say we were keeping an eye on that (emotion), which we were, but at the end of the day, I think it was Denny that kept his eye on the huge scale of the production as much as the individual artists.” 

Although Chalamet had previously auditioned for Villeneuve’s 2013 film “Prisoners” and had not made the cut, he assured the college journalists that he was thrilled to work on this film. 

“I was fortunate enough to be in this [film]. I fell in love with the book, I saw the cast that was being assembled. Also, to get to work on a movie of this size,” Chalamet said. “Sort of everything was attractive about this [movie]. Really couldn’t point anything out that felt like a natural deterrent in this event.”

Because the novel came out in the ‘60s, many of the younger generations have not been exposed to the story of Paul in “Dune.” Emma Chang, a writer for The Michigan Daily at Michigan University, asked actors what they hoped the film would bring to the new, younger generation and what they hoped they would get out of it. 

“This book didn’t come out when we were growing up, and yet it still remains really relevant about fighting for what’s right socially, what’s right environmentally, standing up for groups that are easily oppressed and don’t have the agency to fight back,” Chalamet said. 

Zendaya also voiced to the college journalists other takeaways she hopes young viewers will see when watching the film.

“There [are] so many things you can take from it, that idea of having to fit into shoes you’re not ready yet and then grow up a little quicker,” Zendaya said. “That sense of responsibility. I think we all kind of face it and what’s the right thing to do.”

When older literature surfaces in a conversation with young people, it can easily be titled “dated.” Some of the underlying themes of “Dune” can instantly be applied to the modern-day life of a young adult trying to navigate their life in unprecedented territory. 

Gina Correa, one of the coordinators for the roundtable experience, asked Chalamet and Zendaya to expand on how Atreides’ journey is parallel to the journey a college student may be beginning.

“I think the character (Paul) we meet in the beginning of the movie is a young man that is struggling with his identity and struggling with the way he is, how he is in the world and who he is, not only to himself but his loved ones,” Chalamet said. “I think it is something we all struggle with at that age as we figure out who we are.”

TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures)

“Dune” is the perfect cinematic mix of coming of age, bringing appreciation to literature and science fiction. For most of the advanced effects in film, directors opt to use green screens. Chalamet and Zendaya explain how their experience filming contrasts with this because they actually go to travel internationally while taking on these roles.

“I think I only had two scenes using a green screen this time around,” Chalamet said. “Rather if it was in Jordan or Abu Dhabi, I even got to be in Norway the last couple of days to shoot some of the even earlier scenes. It felt like a constant process being inspired by everything happening around, in addition to the designs of the suits.”

“Dune” will be available in movie theaters worldwide on Oct .22, 2021, and can also be streamed on HBO Max.