Yes, Zendaya is barely in 'Dune.' But don't worry, she'll be a big deal in the sequel

Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

"Dune" is about 155 minutes long. Approximately seven of those minutes — or 4.5% of the film — feature top-billed star Zendaya.

But don't worry, Zendaya fans: She'll have a bigger role in the sequel — which, as of Tuesday morning, is officially a go.

It's easy to understand why fans of the Emmy winner are feeling tricked, betrayed and disappointed by her minimal screen time in the sci-fi epic, which debuted in theaters and on HBO Max over the weekend.

After all, Zendaya's name and likeness are featured prominently on the poster for the movie and her character occupies a substantial portion of the trailer. In recent weeks, she and co-star Timothee Chalamet have carried the "Dune" press tour on their backs with their compelling chemistry and charm.

So — to echo the collective frustration of Zendaya fans across social media (WHAT DO YOU MEAN ZENDAYA IS ONLY IN DUNE FOR SEVEN MINUTES," tweeted one person. "I don't wanna spend $13 to see zendaya for only seven minutes," wrote another) — why is she barely in the movie?

The simple explanation is that Oscar-nominated director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation covers approximately two-thirds of Frank Herbert's classic novel of the same name. Zendaya's character Chani is formally introduced in the book just before the film's final action scene.


"I didn't have to fight for this idea," Villeneuve told the Los Angeles Times of his decision to break the book into two movies.

"I just said to them, 'Guys, the story is so rich, so complex, it takes all its strength from its details and its poetry. I truly think to do justice to the book, we should do it in two parts.' And they immediately said yes."

In a 2005 paperback edition of Herbert's infamously dense 1965 text, Chalamet's Paul Atreides meets Zendaya's Chani on page 360 of 617. Before that, Paul — heir to the powerful Atreides empire — frequently dreams of Chani, a nimble and resourceful native of the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune.

True to the source material, Zendaya's Chani only appears in a handful of vision and dream sequences throughout the movie — until her climactic introduction around the two-hour-and-16-minute mark.


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