Denis Villeneuve Reveals What It Would Take to Bring Him Back After Dune 3
“I'll see if the will, the enthusiasm is still there.”
Dune: Part Three, if it happens, will be Denis Villeneuve’s last Dune film. Or will it?
The director has spoken about his dream of completing the epic story of Paul Atreides with a third film adapting Frank Herbert’s second book, Dune Messiah. Beyond that, he’s expressed no wish to adapt any of the other books in Herbert’s six-book sci-fi saga, which takes the story thousands of years past Paul’s first arrival on Arrakis.
But never say never. In a conversation with Inverse ahead of the release of Dune: Part Two, Villeneuve reveals he’s not totally opposed to returning to direct more Dune movies after Part 3.
“These movies are very long to make, and I was very, very inspired to do Part One and Part Two. And I still feel the spark is still there to make a third one. I’ll see after, how I feel. I’ll see if the will, the enthusiasm is still there,” Villeneuve tells Inverse. “But I can only make those adaptations by being fully committed and giving everything. It’s like I have to put my heart on the table.”
But Villeneuve also says, “Time is passing, and I don’t know if I want to spend the rest of my days on Arrakis.” The director of acclaimed cerebral sci-fi like Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t want to be limited to making Dune movies for the rest of his career, nor should he. Villeneuve has other films in the pipeline, including a film about Cleopatra being written by 1917 writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, and an adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama.
But it’s not just the commitment to a franchise that’s giving Villeneuve pause. Herbert’s four books after Dune Messiah get weird. And though Villeneuve may have made audiences believe an android can love or spider-like aliens can teach humans to see the future, the rest of the Dune saga is intimidating even for him.
“I’m frankly afraid of the other books because they become pretty esoteric and more difficult to adapt,” Villeneuve says, an understatement for a series that sees a human become a worm god. The books after Messiah also move on from the story of Paul Atreides, instead turning the spotlight to his descendants and the many scheming factions trying to control humanity’s destiny. Without Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides at the center of the story, it could be difficult for Villeneuve to get audiences on board.
For now, Villeneuve only wants to do justice to Dune Messiah, which he calls “one of the most beautiful book endings I have ever read.” If he does get to make Dune 3, Villeneuve “will feel so privileged to have the chance to bring that to life.” But for those hoping to see Villeneuve’s take on Children of Dune and beyond, all hope is not lost.
“If I feel that I still have energy to do [more Dune movies] after the third one, we’ll see,” Villeneuve says.