David Lynch’s Dune bombed, but still shaped every science fiction movie

Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel DuneIt has been unfilmable since the 1970s. Mostly because it’s a gigantic, complex book with a narrative that rarely plays out in the way you’d expect, and stuffed with remarkable imagery — from deadly sandworms to mutant space navigators. The only version that was made into a feature-length film of the book is in 2021. Dune was surrealist master David Lynch’s infamous adaptation. Lynch still denies it to this day. It even stars Kyle MacLachlan.

Denis Villeneuve — director of Sicario ArrivalPlease see the following: Blade Runner 2049 — decided to take on the challenge of bringing Dune back to the big screen. The task seems especially daunting since the original nearly tanked Lynch’s career before it truly got started.

On this week’s Galaxy Brains, Jonah Ray and I are joined by one of the stars of the new DuneDavid Dastmalchian joined us to discuss what Dune means in 2021, and compare it with 1984’s cult film.

This conversation was edited as usual to make it less strange.

Dave You are in a really unique situation in that you’re in this movie and you’ve seen Denis Villeneuve interpret this book, but you also have worked with David Lynch. You were in Twin Peaks and you’ve seen his creative process. Lynch, of course, was the first to attempt to adapt this massive series of books, and other tomes. You think they had a unique creative process. Do you think they are similar?

David Absolutely, absolutely. These two artists share a lot in common. Their humanity, at the core of their similarities, is what makes them so similar. They’re both incredibly and intensely empathic humans. The other thing that I think is incredibly kindred between the two of them and watching them get to work at up close and personal is the strength and confidence of their vision being something that they know so deeply, it’s like in their DNA, so there’s no question there’s no stuttering in their ability to communicate.

Jonah: So when a department head comes, it’s like This option is available and it’s yours!, and they’re both able to just say, Ah, this one!

David Yes. It was because of their mutual love that the department heads, and all actors who collaborate with them felt safe to take big steps and bring big opportunities. They are both kind of strange people. David and Denis are far more like friends than me. I only spent a few weeks with David, but there’s something otherworldly about both of them, something that is hard to put your finger on other. I’d be sitting behind David Lynch in my cast chair while he was at the monitor and I was in between takes or something. In my head, I’d like to think that If I can be heard, you could just signify that you hear me.. And we were in this casino that’s in the middle of the desert and I’m sitting there and I’m just like sending the signal out. And I’m not shitting you guys, he turns around and does this like smiley kind of nod thing to me. Then he went back to work, and I was all smiley. That was it.

Dave You are now stepping into some very important shoes in the movie. Brad Dourif is Piter’s character in the film. Do you remember that first film? You did you make any notes or was it a nervous reaction to playing the role of this great actor?

David To your second question: Yes. I was anxious. Very nervous. It was scary. The first thing you need to remember as an actor, is how many other people have played Tom Wingfield. The Glass MenagerieWhat do you think? You have to try and tell yourself that because it’s very scary to feel like that. There’s only one. There’s only Brad Dourif’s Piter de Vries.

The book did not disappoint me. Denis, a great fan of the book, is a strong supporter. I think there’s less Piter in Denis’s version than there was in David’s. I think that it’s a very, very, very different approach to both Piter and the Harkkonens and the whole story, in my opinion, in a really incredible and beautiful way. But I hope if Brad sees this film at some point that he thinks what I did was interesting because he’s one of my acting heroes that I really look up to and admire.

Dave Brad, if you’re listening to this for the love of God, text David and tell him he did a great job.

#David#Lynchs #Dune