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Christopher Walken on ‘Dune 2’ Ending a Four-Year Movie Break and His ‘Star Wars’ Screen Test: ‘My Partner in the Audition Was’ Jodie Foster as Leia

Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” notably features the acting return of Christoper Walken, who hasn’t been seen on the big screen in four years. The Oscar winner had a trio of films released in 2020 (“The War with Grandpa,” “Percy” and “Wild Mountain Thyme”) and then went on a hiatus from moviemaking (he did show up in the 2022 television series “Severance.”) Now, he joins “Dune: Part Two” as Shaddam IV, aka the Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe.

Why did Walken decide to make “Dune: Part Two” his comeback? It’s a question Vanity Fair asked the Oscar winner in a new interview, to which Walken responded: “I had, of course, seen the first ‘Dune’ a number of times. I loved it, and I admired [Villeneuve’s] movies. ‘Arrival,’ I thought, was wonderful. And to be with all those terrific actors —Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin, Timothée Chalamet, Florence Pugh and Stellan Skarsgård—and to go to Budapest, which is a beautiful city. And of course, that’s what I do for a living. It was only, I think, three weeks. So, everything about it was attractive.”

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“Dune: Part Two” also gives Walken the chance to star in a major Hollywood science-fiction epic, an opportunity he once tried and failed to get when he auditioned for the role of Han Solo in George Lucas’ original “Star Wars” movie.

“I think it was for Han Solo,” Walken remembered. “Yes, I auditioned for it. And if I’m not mistaken, my partner in the audition was — I think this is true — it was Jodie Foster … I think we did a screen test. I’m not sure we did a scene. Maybe we just sat in front of, in those days, those old videotape cameras … I did audition for ‘Star Wars,’ but so did about 500 other actors. It was lots of people doing that.”

Foster was reading for Princess Leia, a role that George Lucas actually offered her at the time. The two-time Oscar winner recently said on “The Tonight Show” that she had to turn the “Star Wars” offer down because she was already locked into a contract for a Disney movie at the time. Foster did not reveal what Disney movie, but the timeline suggests it might’ve been “Freaky Friday,” which was released a year before “Star Wars.”

“They were going for a younger Princess Leia but I had a conflict,” said Foster, who was only 13 or 14 years old when “Star Wars” was filming. “I was doing a Disney movie and I just didn’t want to pull out of the Disney movie because I was already under contract.”

The role ultimately went to Carrie Fisher, who was 19 years old during filming. Walken didn’t get the role of Han Solo, either, as that character went to Harrison Ford. Not that Walken was hurting for roles at the time. Not getting “Star Wars” allowed him to say yes to Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall,” which won best picture. A year later he’d star in “The Deer Hunter,” which won him an Oscar.

“I mean, I auditioned for ‘Love Story,’ for ‘Star Wars.’ But it’s probably just as well that I didn’t get either one of them,” Walken told Vanity Fair.

“Dune: Part Two” is now playing in theaters nationwide from Warner Bros.

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