Why Dune’s most iconic villain isn’t in Denis Villeneuve’s movie
The infamous Dune villain — played by Sting in 1984 — won't appear in the new movie. Here's why.
Dune’s most famous fight has been cut.
Well, sort of. In David Lynch’s bombastic adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel, Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) has to beat the henchman of House Harkonnen, the sadistic Feyd (Sting), in hand-to-hand combat.
It’s a thrilling, memorable scene — almost as memorable as Sting’s abs, seen earlier in the film. And yet, in this fall’s Dune: Part One, Timothée Chalamet’s Paul doesn’t fight Feyd-Rautha. Why not? Where is this villain, and will they appear in Dune: Part Two? Mild spoilers ahead for all versions of Dune.
Who is Feyd-Rautha in Dune?
Feyd is the younger brother of Count Glossu “The Beast” Rabban. Both men, within House Harkonnen, are fierce warriors and cruel by nature. Feyd was groomed by his family — and by his Uncle, Baron Harkonnen — for political ascendancy. Feyd is basically the Harkonnen equivalent of Paul. Like Dune’s main character, Feyd was bred to become a political leader; and like Paul, Feyd’s family hopes he’ll marry someone from another noble house to strengthen an alliance. To this end, Feyd hopes to marry Princess Irulan, the daughter of Emperor Shaddam IV. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work out.)
Eventually, Feyd faces Paul in a formal Kanly duel and is slain by his opponent, solidifying Paul’s dominance on the planet Arrakis.
Why doesn’t Feyd appear in Dune: Part One (2021)?
The short answer: because Feyd is barely in the first half of the first book, and the new film won’t really get to the stage in Herbert’s story where Feyd does anything significant.
Feyd first appears on roughly page 22 of most versions of the novel Dune, including the contemporary Kindle edition. He is included in all of the Baron’s early schemes to destroy Duke Leto and House Atreides. But after page 33, Feyd isn’t mentioned again until later; and even then, people are just talking about him around page 286 (and again on pages 302, 378, and 387). During this time, he’s being set up as the “nu-Baron,” meaning that the book wants to make it clear that the Baron loves Feyd and sees him as a potential successor.
Still, Feyd doesn’t significantly enter the action of the novel until page 521, which the Kindle version will call “Chapter 35” (even though Dune doesn’t really have chapter numbers). From this point on, he’s a bigger deal — but mostly as a symbol of House Harkonnen’s political power. In terms of progress, this means Feyd’s major contributions to Dune don’t start until after page 500. But, because of where Dune: Part One ends, all the big Feyd stuff comes later.
Will Feyd appear in Dune: Part Two?
Assuming Dune: Part Two eventually is filmed and released, completing the full adaptation of Herbert’s first novel, an appearance from Feyd feels very likely. Why didn’t Denis Villeneuve include at least a cameo appearance from Feyd in Part One?
It should be noted that Princess Irulan, her father Emperor Shaddam IV, and Paul’s baby sister Alia Atreides are also missing in the movie. Villeneuve likely wanted to keep the focus of the first film on House Atreides, the planet Arrakis itself, and House Harkonnen. As a result, various publications have been fan-casting the remaining roles, including Feyd.
One leading fan theory is that Feyd could be played by Bill Skarsgård, the real-life son of Stellan Skarsgård. Instead of father and son, in this scenario, the two Skarsgårds would be playing uncle and nephew. It could work! Keep in mind that this character is supposed to be the sibling of “The Beast,” played by Dave Bautista in Part One.
The role of Feyd could also be gender-flipped, much like the role of Liet Kynes, who was originally a man in the novel but is played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster. It feels unlikely that Villeneuve will flatly exclude Feyd from a follow-up. In Jodorowsky's Dune, Feyd would have been played by Mick Jagger; and of course, in 1984, he was played by Sting. Could another musician play Feyd? Is it too late to call Harry Styles?
Dune: Part One hits HBO Max and US theaters on October 22, 2021.