The Emperor of the known universe has been found. In the forthcoming 2023 film Dune: Part II, the part of the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV will be played by the iconic and brilliant actor Christopher Walken. He’ll follow actors Jose Ferrer from the 1984 Dune and Giancarlo Giannini from the 2000 Sci-Fi Channel version.
But, there’s one secret reason why the casting of Christopher Walken may have been destiny. Here’s the secret Dune connection Walken had before getting this role.
Who is Christopher Walken playing in Dune?
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Christopher Walken will join Florence Pugh and Austin Butler as part of the cast of Dune: Part II. To be clear, Pugh will be playing his daughter, Princess Irulan, destined to marry Paul Atreides for political reasons. Meanwhile, Butler will play the villainous Harkonnen foil to Paul, Feyd Rautha.
Although absent from Villeneuve’s Dune: Part I adaptation, Emperor Shaddam IV, is nonetheless responsible for nearly everything that happens to House Atreides, including the murder of Duke Leto.
That said, in Frank Herbert’s novel, it’s not that the Emperor is evil, per see. Rather, he’s fearful of the influence of the Atreides, and thus, is playing a long game to stay in power. If you’ve read the books, you know this backfires. But it also means Walken gets to sink his teeth into a deliciously complex and conniving character who, at this point in the Dune story, has all the power.
Why Walken’s Dune 2 casting has a nostalgic twist
In the year 2000, Christopher Walken starred — and danced — in the now-classic Fatboy Slim music video for the song “Weapon of Choice.” This single pop culture event is now accidentally, and bizarrely prescient because there’s an amazing Dune Easter egg in the song’s lyrics. Though you might not hear it at first, “Weapon of Choice” features these lyrics, over and over again:
“Walk without rhythm, it won't attract the worm. Walk without rhythm, and it won't attract the worm. Walk without rhythm, and it won't attract the worm. If you walk without rhythm, huh, you'll never learn.”
These lyrics reference the way the Fremen evade sandworms in Dune. They walk without rhythm and simulate the natural sounds of the desert to avoid getting eaten by Shai-Hulud. The song also features these lyrics:
Don't be shocked by the tone of my voice...It's the new weapon, the weapon of choice.
Obviously, Dune fans know that one is a reference to The Voice, the Bene Gesserit's power to control people through verbal suggestion. And again in the year 2000, Walken danced beautifully and perfectly to this song, which also included some aerial stunts worthy of the Emperor’s Sardaukar troops.
So did the Bene Gesserit somehow conspire to set Christopher Walken on the golden path that would lead him back to Dune? Because, right now, it seems like he was always the only person fit for this throne.
Dune: Part II is scheduled to premiere on October 20, 2023.