‘Dune’ Exclusive: Zendaya Eyed to Play Chani Opposite Timothée Chalamet

     January 30, 2019

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[Update: After hearing on Twitter from a number of fans of both Dune and Zendaya, I have decided to update the lead and the description of her character in this story, as I agree that Chani is much more than a simple “love interest” for Paul Atreides, and I see how our original headline and character description may have come off as reductive. I haven’t read Dune or seen the original film, and was merely relaying the way the character was described to me by sources. I regret any frustration this may have caused true fans and will be more mindful of the way female characters are positioned in future stories.]

After starring opposite Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Zac Efron in The Greatest Showman, Zendaya is in talks to play young Freman tribe member Chani opposite Timothée Chalamet in Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune reboot, multiple sources tell Collider.

Based on the acclaimed novels by Frank Herbert, Legendary’s Dune is a space-faring adventure story that is rich with political intrigue and complex machinations. The story follows Chalamet’s Paul Atreides, the heir apparent of the Atreides family. When they’re sent to rule over the desert planet Arrakis and its valuable spice commodity, their rule is contested by competing noble families, leading to betrayal and ultimately rebellion.

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Image via Sony Pictures

Oscar Isaac and Rebecca Ferguson will co-star as Chalamet’s parents, while Stellan Skarsgård will play the film’s antagonist, Baron Harkonnen, and Dave Bautista will play his murderous nephew. Meanwhile, screen legend Charlotte Rampling will play the Reverend Mother Mohiam, who can divine intentions, suss out lies and manipulate people’s emotional states on behalf of the emperor.

Should her deal close, Zendaya would play Chani, a strong young woman with whom Paul shares a deep connection. She plays a large part as the story unfolds, and may even take on a larger role in the next Dune film — should this one merit a sequel. Remember, Villeneuve is an ambitious filmmaker whose Blade Runner 2049 was also supposed to spark a franchise, to no avail.

This time around, Villeneuve co-wrote the script himself along with Oscar-winner Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) and Jon Spaihts (Prometheus). Villeneuve also executive produces the Legendary project with Mary Parent and Cale Boyter, as well as Brian HerbertByron MerrittThomas Tull, and Kim HerbertKevin J. Anderson will serve as a creative consultant on the project.

Zendaya was one of a handful of non-white actresses to test for the role of Chani. A representative for the actress declined to comment last week and did not respond to a request for comment this week. Zendaya will soon reprise her role of Michelle, aka MJ, in Spider-Man: Far From Home, which swings into theaters on July 5, and her HBO series Euphoria will debut later this year. She’s represented by CAA and Monster Talent Management. Legendary had no comment.

For more of our previous and continuing coverage of Dune, be sure to get caught up with our recent write-ups linked below:

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Image via 20th Century Fox

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Image via Amazon Studios

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