The Wild Cast That Dune Almost Had Back In 1973

Before David Lynch‘s 1984 adaptation of Dune, there was a fascinating and bizarre attempt only a decade before to bring Frank Herbert‘s sci-fi epic to the big screen. This ambitious project was going to be taken on by Alejandro Jodorowsky. His aim was to create a genuinely visionary and unconventional adaptation of the novel. The story of this adaptation is filled with unexpected twists, turns, and a genuinely wild cast.

Jodorowsky’s Dune was set to be a star-studded extravaganza featuring some of the biggest names in film and music at the time. The director’s vision was to create a psychedelic and surreal space opera that would be unlike anything audiences had ever seen. To that end, he assembled a cast of colorful characters. They included Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, and Pink Floyd. However, the project ultimately fell apart due to creative differences and logistical challenges. Altogether, here’s the proposed wild cast of Dune 1973.

Salvador Dali Was Supposed To Play The Emperor

lThe Wild Cast That Dune Almost Had Back In 1973

One of the more fascinating casting choices for Jodorowsky’s Dune 1973 was Salvador Dali. He was to play Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, the Emperor of the Known Universe. Dali, the surrealist artist known for his eccentricities and avant-garde style, was an unlikely choice for such a role. The role is to be played by Christopher Walken in the upcoming Dune: Part Two. However, this very nature of Dali was what Jodorowsky hoped to bring to the character. The Emperor would be a figure of both power and absurdity. Dali was open to the idea, but he had several outrageous demands, such as being paid a very high salary.

Paul Atredies Was Going To Be Played By Jodoworksy’s 12-year-old Brontis

The Wild Cast That Dune Almost Had Back In 1973

Another eccentric casting choice was Jodorowsky’s decision to cast his own son, Brontis Jodorowsky, as Paul Atreides. Brontis was only 12 years old at the time, and his father saw his potential to deliver a powerful and emotional performance. The younger Jodorowsky underwent intense training for the role. This included martial arts and meditation and worked closely with his father to develop his acting skills. The much older Timothee Chalamet plays the character in the more recent films. 

David Carradine Was Thought To Be The Perfect Duke Leto

The Wild Cast That Dune Almost Had Back In 1973

David Carradine was considered for the role of Duke Leto, the role that Oscar Issac plays in Denis Villenueve’s Dune. Carradine, who was known for his work in Westerns and martial arts films, had a commanding presence and rugged charisma. Jodorowsky believed that would be ideal for the role. However, when the project ultimately fell through due to many constraints, this was also shelved. 

Hollywood Legend Orson Welles Was Cast To Play Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

The Wild Cast That Dune Almost Had Back In 1973

Orson Welles is one of the most popular men in Hollywood, he was a significant part of the growth of the industry with his work on Citizen Kane. Jodowosky set his sight son Welles to play the iconic role of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Stellen Skarsgard was Villenueve’s choice for the role. Just like Dali, he also had some exciting conditions for joining the film. The fact that the film did not see the light of day robbed fans of the novel of what could have been one of the greatest performances of all time. 

Gloria Swanson Signed On To Play Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother 

The Wild Cast That Dune Almost Had Back In 1973

Jodorowsky’s eccentric Dune 1973 was also set to feature one of the biggest stars of the silent film era, Gloria Swanson, in the role of the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother. The Bene Gesserit are a key part of Herbert’s Dune universe. Their mystical powers and political intrigue are crucial to the story’s plot. Swanson’s involvement in the film would have lent a sense of gravitas and old Hollywood glamour to the role. Her presence may have helped to elevate the character’s importance in the film’s narrative. When Charlotte Rampling played the role in the 2021 film, she was able to convey the secrecy and fear that came with being the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother. 

Unfortunately, all of Jodorowsky’s proposed castings fell through due to issues many issues. A few of these included financing and scheduling. Nonetheless, the idea of these great actors playing these roles remains an intriguing footnote in the story of one of cinema’s most ambitious projects.

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