‘Dune’ Producer Mary Parent on Director Denis Villeneuve’s Vision: “It Was Clear Right Away That He Had a Burning Desire”

With Warner Bros.’ Dune, producer Mary Parent has earned her second Academy Award nomination for finest image (following 2015’s The Revenant). The vice chairman of worldwide manufacturing at Legendary Entertainment, whose producing credit embody the equally large-scale journey movies Pacific Rim (2013), Kong: Skull Island (2017) and Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), says that the bold process of adapting Dune was an arduous course of that confronted a lot of business skepticism.

That is, till director, co-writer and co-producer Denis Villeneuve got here on board. Like Parent, Villeneuve had learn Frank Herbert’s beloved novel in his youth, as soon as confessing to a reporter that a movie adaptation was his “dream project.” Impressed with the director’s 2016 finest image nominee, Arrival, she was assured that he may deal with an intimate character drama wrapped in an epic sci-fi journey. Parent spoke with THR concerning the largest challenges behind Dune‘s growth and making massive, theatrical movies within the streaming period.

What was your relationship to the supply materials?

I used to be an avid reader [growing up], and I beloved the ebook. It popped again into my head once more, form of randomly, a lot to do with the truth that it felt extra related within the final 10 years. Frank Herbert was extremely prescient, when you concentrate on his themes of ecology, the cautionary story of energy, the significance of collaboration for survival and, in fact, younger folks making an attempt to navigate their manner in a damaged world. It actually spoke to me in a completely different manner. Sometimes you’re keen on one thing, then time goes by and also you see it from a fully completely different perspective. That’s what had occurred to me with Dune.

I began actually monitoring the rights and watching what was occurring. It’s positively a very bold mission, so it wasn’t a complete shock that they grew to become out there once more. Then it was a lengthy technique of getting the [Herbert] property to belief us, that we had been the precise folks. Fate and future are additionally a massive a part of Dune, however a lot of individuals handed [on the project].

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Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac.
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

What had been a few of their causes for passing?

Too onerous and too bold. It’s a very complicated ebook. It’s a very dense ebook, and like many books, it may be inside. There are many characters and there’s great world-building — which, finished proper, as Denis and all of our unimaginable craftspeople have finished, it’s unimaginable. On one hand, it’s a very intimate character drama. And on one other hand, it’s this massive epic — the form of movie that Hollywood is thought for however hasn’t finished in a whereas. And there are additionally big sandworms.

When did you notice that Denis’ imaginative and prescient made him one of the best match to deal with Dune?

Ironically, as onerous as the primary a part of the mountainous climb was on Dune, it bought very easy. Denis was considered one of simply a handful of those who I instantly considered. First of all, he’s by no means made a dangerous film. I actually, actually beloved what he did with Arrival by way of making [it] really feel so actual. We have seen many, many movies about an alien invasion, and I used to be so blown away by how actual he made it — how he dramatized the aliens and the emotionality of it. Because once more, this movie has to work on two ranges. There are different filmmakers who can do the intimate character journeys, there are different filmmakers who may do large scale. There are only a few that might do each.

I actually learn an article the place he mentioned, “Dune is my dream project.” We sat down, and it was clear immediately that he had a burning need and a very clear imaginative and prescient of how he was going to strategy this. [The book] may be very non secular and at instances virtually psychedelic. He had such a imaginative and prescient of who these folks had been, what this journey was, the world-building, how all of that intertwined and the way he was going to really notice this in a manner that was accessible. It’s very troublesome to strategy world-building like this and nonetheless have it really feel grounded and accessible.

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Producer Mary Parent
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

How did assembling the forged add to the world-building? It’s an unimaginable ensemble of actors, particularly for this type of epic movie.

There had been many issues that had been difficult and troublesome about making this movie, however casting was not considered one of them. It’s nice once you’ve bought a filmmaker like Denis, as a result of everyone needs to work with [him] — on this case, you’ve bought a world-class filmmaker. Timmy [Chalamet] was the primary person who we approached. It was clear he’s probably the greatest actors of his technology, and he was capable of seize the essence of Paul. Fortunately, he had been a big fan of Denis. The most troublesome facet was — as a result of we had such a massive, star-driven forged — the schedules. Everybody that’s on this movie is on the prime of their recreation and, for essentially the most half, very established folks. Trying to maneuver these schedules was not simple.

I used to be thrilled to see Dune on the large display screen, however many individuals could have watched it when it premiered on HBO Max. As a producer identified for making big-screen spectacles, what are your ideas about streaming? Do you take into account the streaming viewers whereas making a film like this? Could you think about somebody watching this epic movie on their cellphone?

First of all, I consider in all mediums, and I’m glad that each one mediums exist. The extra storytelling and the extra issues that may get made — and significantly the tougher tasks and the tales that persons are afraid of — I’m glad that there’s an outlet for that. I don’t consider there’s something that replicates the theatrical expertise, and Dune clearly was made for the large display screen. But tales must work regardless [of the medium], and for those who’re telling a good story — whether or not you’re watching on your cellphone or within the theater, they’re going to be completely different experiences — hopefully it’s going to carry up. I don’t ever assume, “How will this look on a phone?” I take into consideration methods to make it possible for we’re placing forth one thing that’s worthy.

By the best way, I’m responsible of watching some issues on my cellphone, too. There are simply sure issues that I don’t need to watch on my cellphone. I feel we noticed that with Dune. While actually there are a lot of, many individuals that watched it on HBO Max, I do know there are a lot of people that noticed it on the large display screen, got here residence and watched it once more on Max. I had folks inform me that they noticed it a few instances on Max, after which they went to the theater.

The bar is greater, little doubt. People’s time is just too priceless. There are too many different types of leisure the place you don’t must make that funding. We must make it possible for we’re delivering nice tales.

Interview edited for size and readability.

This story first appeared in a March stand-alone problem of The Hollywood Reporter journal. To obtain the journal, click on right here to subscribe.

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