Dune sequel will make Zendaya a protagonist, alongside Timothée Chalamet

Director Denis Villeneuve reveals the lead female protagonist of the blockbuster's sequel.

Jennifer Bisset
Jennifer Bisset
Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
Expertise Film and TV Credentials
  • Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
Jennifer Bisset
2 min read

Zendaya in Dune: Part One.

Warner Bros.

All things going to Denis Villeneuve's plan, Dune will get a sequel. The first part of the new adaptation of Frank Herbert's 1965 sci-fi novel will hit theaters and HBO Max in October. If the sequel gets the green light, it'll focus on Zendaya's character Chani as one of the protagonists, alongside Timothée Chalamet, the director said.

"I'm honored to present on-screen two talents [Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya] that are so explosive, and I can't wait to shoot the second part of Dune to get them back together," Villeneuve told La Repubblica (translated by IGN). "Knowing that in the next chapter Zendaya will be the [female] protagonist of the story."

Timothée Chalamet stars in Part One as Paul Atreides, a member of an aristocratic family on the planet Caladan. One day, his father Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) accepts the role of supervising the desert planet Arrakis, otherwise known as Dune. It's the most dangerous planet in the universe, where a precious resource called the spice is fought over.

In Part One, Zendaya plays Chani, a mysterious woman with glowing blue eyes who appears in Paul's dreams. She lives on the planet Arrakis, part of the native Fremen tribes.

Villeneuve had planned for two parts to cover Frank Herbert's "complex" story. In July, Warner Bros. showed the first 10 minutes in IMAX special event screenings with the title logo reading Dune: Part One.

"I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie," Villeneuve said in April. "The world is too complex. It's a world that takes its power in the details."

The sequel hasn't been officially greenlit just yet, and Villeneuve expressed concern over a possible poor box office canceling the sequel plans, citing the HBO Max deal as the issue.

"Warner Bros.' sudden reversal from being a legacy home for filmmakers to the new era of complete disregard draws a clear line for me," Villeneuve wrote in a Variety piece, published last December.

However, in a recent interview, Villeneuve said that he's very "optimistic" for the sequel.

"So the first thing was to prove that there was a beautiful, popular movie that can exist, and I think that I proved that -- everybody at Warner Bros and Legendary, they are 100 percent behind the project," Villeneuve told Total Film.

"They feel that it would need a really bad outcome at the box office to not have a Dune: Part Two, because they love the movie. They are proud of the movie, so they want the movie to move forward. And they still did half of it. So, you know, I'm very optimistic."

Correction: Due to an incorrect translation, this article originally said that Zendaya would be the main protagonist of the Dune sequel. Instead, she'll be the lead female protagonist alongside Chalamet's character.

New Movies Coming in 2023 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

See all photos