Dune: Part Two Director Denis Villeneuve Calls Sequel "Biggest Challenge of His Career"

Dune director Denis Villeneuve is preparing for his biggest challenge: the sequel. Dune is up for 10 Academy Awards at Sunday's Oscars event, including Best Picture and Best Score (composer Hans Zimmer recently performed a selection live). Speaking to ET Canada, Villeneuve (whose name was conspicuously absent from the list of Best Director nominees) says prep for Dune: Part Two has already begun. He'll be back to work on it the following Monday after the Oscars. 

"It's gonna be intense," Villeneuve said during an event celebrating Canadian Oscar nominees. "I'm in prep right now. Monday morning, as soon as we leave Los Angeles, it will be to start to go on with prep.

"I cannot say nothing about the movie – I don't like to talk about projects as I am doing them – but it's probably going to be the biggest challenge of my career, again, because it's even more complex than Part One."

Dune: Part Two will cover the second half of Frank Herbert's iconic 1965 sci-fi novel. Villeneuve previously confirmed that the sequel's script is complete. Rumor has it that Austin Butler is up for the role of antagonist Feyd-Rautha. Another says Florence Pugh is up for a part, which Villeneuve acknowledged vaguely in the past. Villeneuve has also stated that Zendaya will have a more substantial role in the sequel. Zendaya plays Chani, one of the Freman people native to Arrakis with whom Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a reluctant messiah, falls in love.

"For Zendaya, I will say Part One was a promise. I know that we saw a glimpse of her in Part One, but in Part Two, she'll have a prominent part. We will follow Timothée and Zendaya on their adventures in the desert. That's the thing that excited me most about going back to Arrakis is to spend time with those characters again," Villeneuve told Variety.

Dune: Part Two may not be the end of Dune in cinemas. Rumors suggest Villeneuve may make a third Dune movie adapting Herbert's first sequel novel, Dune Messiah, concluding Paul and Chani's story. There's a spinoff series, Dune: The Sisterhood, in the works for HBO Max.

"It's going to be another beautiful journey in the desert again," Villeneuve said while speaking about the sequel at the PGA Awards. "It's the journey where Paul Atreides and his mother, Lady Jessica, make contact with the Fremen culture and meet with the Fremen. It's Paul's journey against the enemy ... It's a movie that will be more cinematic."

Dune: Part Two opens in theaters on October 20th, 2023. The Oscars air on Sunday on ABC.