Ahead of his big screen turn as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann's biopic, actor Austin Butler is set to join the starry cast of science fiction epic Dune: Part Two, the sequel to the 2021 hit Dune. Butler is in the final stages of negotiations to play Feyd-Rautha, the nephew of the villainous Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, according to Variety.
The role is of one of the most important new characters appearing in the sequel, the magazine reported.
In Frank Herbert's book, on which the film is based, Feyd-Rautha is the heir to the Harkonnen empire and is depicted as cruel, treacherous and also cunning like his uncle. Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard played Harkonnen in the Denis Villeneuve film, a critical and commercial success with 10 Oscar nominations.
Scroll through the gallery below for stills from 'Dune':
Butler's news comes days after it was reported that Black Widow star Florence Pugh was also in negotiations to play Princess Irulan, a member of the House of Corrino, and someone who becomes romantically involved with hero Paul Atreides, played by Timothee Chalamet in the film. Chalamet and Pugh were last seen together in the acclaimed 2019 film Little Women, for which Pugh scored a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
If Butler and Pugh seal the deal, they will join an ensemble returning cast that includes Chalamet, Skarsgard, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Zendaya and Javier Bardem.
Production on the sequel is expected to start this summer, with the film scheduled to be released in October 2023. Portions of Dune were shot in the Abu Dhabi desert, and it's not clear yet if the team will return to shoot in the same locations.
“Some new characters will be introduced in the second part and a decision I made very early on was that this first part would be more about Paul Atreides and the Bene Gesserit, and his experience of being in contact for the first time with a different culture. Second part, there will be much more Harkonnen stuff," director Villeneuve told Empire magazine.
Dune has made more than $400 million at the global box office.