Stellan Skarsgård says he spent seven hours in make-up every day for 'Dune' (exclusive)

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·2-min read
Stellan Skarsgård with his award for 'Chernobyl' at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 05, 2020. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Stellan Skarsgård with his award for 'Chernobyl' at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 05, 2020. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Stellan Skarsgård spent seven hours every day in the make-up chair to play Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune.

The 69-year-old star, who is currently promoting Second World War drama The Painted Bird, said he had a “wonderful” experience working on the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi tale.

Baron Harkonnen is the primary antagonist of Dune, serving as the leader of the family opposing the Atreides clan and seeking to wipe out their entire family.

Read more: Dune is a “standalone epic”, says cinematographer

“[He’s] mainly extremely big,” Skarsgård told Yahoo Movies UK when asked to explain his take on Harkonnen.

“I have so much prosthetics on. I spent seven hours a day in make-up for Dune.”

Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in the 1984 version of 'Dune', directed by David Lynch. (Credit: Universal)
Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in the 1984 version of 'Dune', directed by David Lynch. (Credit: Universal)

Skarsgård revealed he worked on the film for two and a half weeks and didn’t get chance to work with much of the cast, filming most of his scenes alone with only brief exchanges with other characters.

He added that Villeneuve’s films, including Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, are “extremely visual and sensual” which is something that has carried over to Dune.

Read more: Villeneuve says Dune is his toughest challenge to date

Skarsgård said: “Working with Denis Villeneuve was fantastic. Being on his set is a great experience because everybody is nice, nobody is shouting and nobody is scared.

“It’s really wonderful, and then he’s such a great filmmaker, such a visual filmmaker.

“The sets were incredible and the way he shot was beautiful. And also the way he not only thinks but feels when he’s watching. He’s working with all of his senses when he shoots.”

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica in 'Dune'. (Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures)
Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica in 'Dune'. (Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures)

The role of Baron Harkonnen was played by Kenneth McMillan in the 1984 David Lynch film and by Ian McNeice in the TV miniseries from 2000.

Villeneuve told Vanity Fair earlier this year that he thought the Baron in the books was “flirting very often with caricature” and that Skarsgård’s take will have “a bit more dimension”.

Read more: Oscar Isaac says Dune is “very visceral”

The cast of Villeneuve’s Dune is led by Timothée Chalamet and also includes Josh Brolin, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Oscar Isaac and Zendaya.

The Painted Bird is in UK and Irish cinemas and on digital from 11 September and Dune is due to be released on 18 December.