The actor, who just received an Oscar nomination for his King of Rock and Roll depiction, sat down with Deadline to discuss his debut as the antagonist Feyd-Rutha Harkonnen in director Denis Villeneuve’s sequel. Calling himself a “huge fan” of the 2021 predecessor film, Butler opened up on how it good it felt to play this bad guy role. “We had a blast getting to collaborate on this,” he said. “It was just so much fun for me, especially playing this role, to get to do something from anything I’ve ever done before.”
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Feyd-Rautha, originally (and most famously) played by the singer Sting in director David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation, is the young nephew and heir of the evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Butler’s character serves as the counterpart to the main protagonist Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), with Feyd being both the heir of House Harkonnen and the successive ruler of the planet Arrakis. The character was also played by Matt Keeslar in the 2000 Dune TV miniseries adaptation.
While Butler is no stranger to sinister roles, having already portrayed a member of the Manson Family in Quentin Tarantino’s quasi-historical Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the role of Feyd was clearly a huge step in a different direction. It’s an aspect that seems to excite the stock-rising actor, who was thrilled to work with Villeneuve, whom he described as “an incredible filmmaker, and an amazing person.”
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Austin Butler’s Dune Training
Butler has already hinted at the level of threat posed by Feyd-Rautha, disclosing the physical training he undertook in order to prepare for the role. “I worked with this…Navy Seal [guy] who trained me for months beforehand just to get my body into a place where it was available to not only be an imposing physical presence but to do whatever was asked of me.” Therefore, it is likely that fans can look forward to an action-packed sequel. He also suggested that the character might have more heroic impulses, saying that “you have to not judge the character, and you have to find a way to feel the motivation.”
Last year, Butler experienced a quick rise to fame after landing the lead part in the Elvis biopic, depicting the story of the life and career of the rock icon. Aside from being nominated for numerous accolades, including the Golden Globes and Oscars, it had a very successful run in cinemas, debuting at No. 1 with a box office take of $31.1 million in its first weekend.
In Villeneuve’s sequel to his 2021 sci-fi remake, Butler joins an accomplished cast. Alongside lead actor Timothee Chalamet, Dave Bautista will reprise the role of (Feyd’s brother) Glossu Rabban Harkonnnen, having recently appeared in Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Other cast members returning include Stellan Skarsgard, Rebecca Fergusion, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Zendaya.