If any director can make the impossible possible, it’s probably Denis Villeneuve.
The French Canadian filmmaker has previously impressed with the likes of Prisoners, Enemy, and Sicario. Nevertheless, audiences were still skeptical when Blade Runner 2049 was announced; a sequel to one of the most beloved sci-fi films of all time.
In hindsight, there was no need to fret and some would even argue that it rivals the original.
After that, it was announced that he’d be tackling Frank Herbert’s influential 1965 novel, Dune. David Lynch previously helmed an adaptation that remains divisive, and fans have long wondered what Alejandro Jodorowsky’s take would’ve been like.
For a long time, it was considered an unfilmable book, but Denis’ extravagant blockbuster should put those assumptions to bed once and for all.
It’s an incredibly ambitious piece of work and one that raises a wealth of questions, especially in regards to its characters. At the centre of the narrative, we have Paul Atreides (played by Timothée Chalamet).
His performance has earned praise, but you may be left scratching your head in regards to the character’s age. How old is Paul in Dune?
How old is Paul in Dune?
The character of Paul is 15-years-old in Dune.
Although it’s not explicitly addressed in the movie, the ducal heir of House Atreides is this age in the novel. He was born in 10175 AG.
As for Timothée, the American actor is 25-years-old. Although the star is a decade older than the character he’s portraying, the creative team arguably does a terrific job of making him appear even more youthful.
Of course, it’s important to credit Timothee’s performance too. Paul has been trained in the art of combat for most of his life and a great deal is expected of him from Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac).
However, the actor successfully manages to capture a sense – and importantly, appearance – of boyish innocence. This is perhaps no more clear during the scenes with him talking to Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa).
This is something Denis has commented on: “Paul is an old soul, but in the book he is 15, 16 years old. Timothee was 22, 23 when we shot the movie, so he’s a bit older, but on camera he looks like a teenager. So that was the perfect combination for Paul Atreides.”
Looking further back on Dune’s history on screen, it was Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) who played Paul in David Lynch’s 1984 offering.
The 62-year-old performer was 24 when he starred in Dune, so taking into consideration when Dune (2021) was filmed, there wasn’t much of an age gap between him and Timothee in the part.
“There was only Timothee”
As noted by News9Live, Denis Villeneuve knew from the start that Timothee would be Paul because he didn’t even consider anybody else:
“The process of choosing Timothee Chalamet was very simple: there was no process. There was only Timothee. I had no plan B. I mean, I was making Dune with Timothee Chalamet, that’s it, that’s all.”
It’s not difficult to see why the filmmaker envisioned the star in the role, and it certainly helps that Denis believes he’s “a tremendous, amazing, incredible actor.”
Continuing to explain the casting decision, he added that “Timothee is very thoughtful and that is something that reflects in the eyes. It’s something that you feel. Paul is an intellectual, and we need to feel that throughout the movie…”
Denis includes that “we have to believe that [Paul] could become, in the future, a religious leader who can lead an army. So I needed that charisma, and Timothee has that insane rock star quality.”
Will Timothée Chalamet return in Dune: Part Two?
As of yet, Dune: Part Two hasn’t been officially greenlit but an update in September suggested that the script was being written.
It’s likely that official confirmation will emerge before the end of the year, as the studios will be assessing the box office performance before making a decision to give another mammoth blockbuster the go-ahead.
While this may seem disheartening, Denis himself has said that he’s “optimistic” that the project will get made.
Dune is in theaters and on HBO Max from Friday, October 22nd 2021.