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Denis Villeneuve’s worst drug experience inspired crucial Dune scene

Denis Villeneuve's worst drug experience was crucial to inspiring his direction for Timothée Chalamet in an important scene in Dune

Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Dune

Denis Villeneuve has shared that his worst drug experience was the inspiration for the important vision sequences experienced by Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides in the science fiction movie Dune. Dune released in 2021 and was an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s famously lore-dense novel from the ’60s.

Like the novel, the gorgeous action movie followed the journey of Paul Atreides as he left his family’s planet and travelled to the desert planet Arrakis. However, a trap had been laid for the Atreides by the terrifying movie villain Baron Harkonnen, and Paul’s father is killed. He escapes with his mother into the desert where he meets the native Fremen who take them in.

Dune 2 will explore Paul’s relationship with the Fremen, and his quest to exact revenge on the Harkonnens. It will also go deeper into fictional drug ‘spice‘, which the Fremen harvest from Arrakis’s sandworms. In Dune, Paul had his first encounter with spice and it awakened his  heightened senses and led to visions of the future. In a crucial scene, his spice-induced visions almost see him get munched on by a huge sandworm.

You can see that scene below, and director Denis Villeneuve has given an explanation for the inspiration behind it and how he used his own bad experience with drugs to direct Chalamet in the scene.

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Speaking at an event hosted by the Directors Guild of America, Villeneuve said “”The truth is that one thing that helped me tremendously to direct Timothée [Chalamet] is, my son had cooked a banana cake a few months before we shot the movie, and the banana cake was very ‘spicy’ and I had the worst bad trip of my life. But it tremendously helped me, it sounds stupid, but it’s good to experience things yourself sometimes.”

He continued “That bad trip, on marijuana, deeply helped me to direct Timothée in the visions, to explain to him the state I was looking for. And, strangely, when I mentioned the banana cake experience to Timothee, he got it! Here’s the truth. Don’t try this!”

Because Dune 2 will go much deeper into the impact of spice, and its galactic importance, that experience might just come in handy for Villeneuve once again. Or, perhaps in the time between movies he’s had another experience which could give even more inspiration. For more on Dune, take a look at our in-depth guide to the Dune ending explained.