Dune Director Compares Main Character Paul Atreides To The Godfather's Michael Corleone

Dune is due to release on December 18, 2020, giving audiences a new take on Frank Herbert’s novel, first adapted by David Lynch in 1984. Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) has spoken to Empire about his upcoming adaptation, and given some new insights into what inspired his take on Paul Atreides, the film’s protagonist.

Atreides will be played by Timothee Chalamet in the new film, as seen in the first screenshots. According to Villeneuve, he sees the character’s arc as similar to the central figure of the Godfather trilogy, Michael Corleone. Villeneuve says that the character is similar to Corleone, who was portrayed by Al Pacino across three films, because of the expectations placed upon him.

“Paul has been raised in a very strict environment with a lot of training, because he’s the son of a Duke,” Villeneuve says, recounting details from the novel. “But as much as he’s been prepared and trained for that role, is it really what he dreams to be? That’s the contradiction of that character. It’s like Michael Corleone in The Godfather–it’s someone that has a very tragic fate and he will become something that he was not wishing to become,” he continues.

However, Atreides won’t necessarily go down as dark a path as Michael Corleone did. “His survival depends on being able to make the right decisions and adapt to different dangerous situations,” Villeneuve says. “It’s a very beautiful story about someone that becomes empowered.”

This year’s Dune film will adapt the first half of Herbert’s original novel, with plans underway for a sequel. Villeneuve has also said that he’d like the opportunity to do a follow-up to Blade Runner 2049.

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