With the recent release of Denis Villeneuve’s new Dune adaptation, many fans have been revisiting the 1984 rendition of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel, directed by David Lynch. Labelled by critics as a “beautiful disaster,” Dune is a flawed but interesting interpretation by the master of cinematic surrealism. Although Lynch has disowned the film, it has garnered the status of a cult classic in recent years.
Lynch said: “I don’t even like talking about Dune really, but I’ve said before I knew when I was signing the contract that I was signing away final cut and from that moment I felt like, looking back, I started selling out… I knew Dino [De Laurentiis], I knew what he was like, what he would go for and what he wouldn’t, so I’d have to go way back before that. I don’t know what it would’ve been but it wouldn’t have been what it is”.
While reflecting on the project, Lynch admitted that he shouldn’t have undertaken a Dune adaptation, claiming that he had other offers to consider as well: “I started selling out on Dune. Looking back, it’s no one’s fault but my own. I probably shouldn’t have done that picture, but I saw tons and tons of possibilities for things I loved, and this was the structure to do them in.”
David Lynch’s production featured a star-studded cast, including the likes of Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart and Sting among others. However, Stewart revealed that Lynch had no idea about his casting: “The fact is David Lynch thought he had cast somebody else.” In addition, the actor was unfamiliar with some of his colleagues – most notably, the music icon Sting.
“Music, at least popular music, has never played a big part in my life,” Stewart explained, while trying to justify the fact that he had been living under a rock. “I had never heard of Sting. That’s how isolated I was from the music world.” In order to familiarise himself with his co-star, Stewart initiated a conversation with Sting.
“I heard he was a musician,” the actor said, “so the second or third day we’re just hanging out on the set, just him and me, and I say, ‘So, you’re a musician?’ And he said, ‘Yup.’ And I said, ‘What do you play?’ And he said, ‘Bass.’ And I said, ‘You know, I’ve often wondered what is it like carrying that huge thing around everywhere you go,’
“And God bless him, he said, ‘No, bass guitar.’ And I said, ‘Are you a solo artist?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m in a band.’ And I said, Oh, what kind of band?’ And he said, ‘The Police,’” Stewart recalled. “Folks, I said, ‘You play in a police band?’”
David Lynch wasn’t the only person who did not want to do Dune, with many participants echoing a similar sentiment. When asked about it, even Sting claimed that he had only taken the project because he wasn’t ready to miss out on the golden opportunity of collaborating with Lynch: “I’m doing Dune because of [director David Lynch] and for no other reason.”
Continuing, the musician added: “I didn’t really want to do the movie, because I didn’t think it was wise for me to be in an enormous movie. I’d rather keep a groundswell building up in my movie career. So, I sort of went along dragging my heels.”