Early in Dune pre-production, the big flex was the cast. Timothee Chalamet! Zendaya! Oscar Isaac! Josh Brolin! Jason Momoa! Javier Bardem! Dave Bautista! You remember. And now that Denis Villeneuve and the gang are at work on part two, the crew is ready for a similar shock and awe campaign, and they’re off with a bang.
Christopher Walken will play Emperor Shaddam in Dune: Part Two, joining fellow franchise newcomers Florence Pugh and Austin Butler. The story will pick up right where Part One left off, with Paul (Chalamet) and the Fremen and their Desert Power fighting the House Harkonnen for the fate of Arrakis.
Walken will play the emperor of the universe, the man who sent the Atreides family to Arrakis and kicked off their long and bloody downfall. But that downfall led to an uprising, and we’ll see how Walken’s Emperor handles a good old-fashioned rebellion in Part 2. Pugh will play his daughter, Princess Irulan and Butler will play the devious nephew of House Harkonnen’s baron.
You most recently caught Walken in Apple TV+’s hit Severance, and he won an Oscar for his work in Deer Hunter and got nominated for Catch Me If You Can.
This isn’t Walken’s first brush with the Dune-verse, although his connection is a bit of an easter egg for super fans.
You may remember Walken as the dance machine in Fat Boy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice,” the 2000 hit with a music video that went viral back before we had a word for going viral. That song contains the repeated refrain: Walk without rhythm, it won’t attract the worm. Walk without rhythm, and it won’t attract the worm. Walk without rhythm, and it won’t attract the worm. If you walk without rhythm, huh, you’ll never learn.
The nonsensical lyric is a reference to Frank Herbert’s novel, and the way characters walk to stay one step ahead of the giant sandworms that plague Arrakis. Don’t be shocked by the tone of my voice, the song continues. It’s the new weapon, the weapon of choice. “The Voice” is a reference to the Bene Gesserit’s ability to make people do their bidding with their secret weapon: their voice.
It’s a weird song with lots of literary references (not all of them Dune) but it set Walken on a path he would follow over 20 years later — right to the throne of the universe.