Denis Villeneuve Cut Two Actors From ‘Dune 2’ and One of Them Is ‘Heartbroken’; No Deleted Scenes Will Be Released: ‘When It’s Not in the Movie, It’s Dead’

“Dune: Part Two” features one of the starriest casts in recent memory. From Timothée Chalamet to Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Dave Bautista and more, there’s rarely a scene in the Denis Villeneuve-directed sequel that isn’t filled with star power. The cast was supposed to be even bigger, however, but the filmmaker had to make some cuts to the final edit that left at least one actor “heartbroken.”

Tim Blake Nelson, a regular of the Coen Brothers thanks to films such as “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” was announced as a cast member for “Dune: Part Two” in January 2023. He does not appear in the theatrical release.

More from Variety

“I don’t think I’m at liberty to say what the scene was,” Nelson recently told Movieweb about being cut out of the sequel. “I’d leave that to Denis if he wants to talk about it. I had a great time over there shooting it. And then he had to cut it because he thought the movie was too long. And I am heartbroken over that, but there’s no hard feelings. I loved it, and I can’t wait to do something else with him, and we certainly plan to do that.”

Some “Dune” fans are speculating that Nelson shot a scene as Count Hasimir Fenring, the husband of Lady Margot Fenring (Léa Seydoux), who is also an advisor to the Emperor (Christopher Walken). The reasoning is tied to another actor Villeneuve cut from the “Dune” sequel: Stephen McKinley Henderson.

Henderson starred in the original “Dune” movie as Thufir Hawat, who serves House Atreides as a “Mentat” (which is basically a human super-computer in the universe of “Dune”). Villeneuve cut Thufir Hawat from the sequel, which was not an easy decision for the director.

“One of the most painful choices for me on this one was [to not include] Thufir Hawat,” Villeneuve told Entertainment Weekly. “He’s a character I absolutely love, but I decided right at the beginning that I was making a Bene Gesserit adaptation. That meant that Mentats are not as present as they should be, but it’s the nature of the adaptation.”

Because Villeneuve moved his “Dune” adaptation away from Mentat characters, some fans believe that Nelson must’ve been playing Hasimir Fenring since he is also a Mentat who has a sizable role in the novels. Henderson said on the “This Is Purdue” podcast last year that he shot scenes for “Dune: Part Two” opposite Austin Butler.

“What a nice person,” Henderson said. “He’s just the nicest guy and he and Timmy both just wonderful people. And they play such nemeses in the film, so it was wonderful to see them off camera. And Austin was so nice to me … I just so appreciated Austin — a wonderful, wonderful person.”

Any fan wondering if these cut actors might pop up in a “Dune” director’s cut are not in luck, as Villeneuve has long been outspoken against such releases.

“I’m a strong believer that when it’s not in the movie, it’s dead,” he told Collider before “Dune: Part Two” opened in theaters. “Sometimes I remove shots and I say, ‘I cannot believe I’m cutting this out. I feel like a samurai opening my gut. It’s painful, so I cannot go back after that and create a Frankenstein and try to reanimate things that I killed. It’s too painful. When it’s dead, it’s dead, and it’s dead for a reason. But yes, it is a painful project, but it is my job. The movie prevails. I’m very severe in the editing room. I’m not thinking about my ego, I’m thinking about the movie. … I kill darlings, and it’s painful for me.”

Both Nelson and Henderson are listed in the special thanks section of the end credits.

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

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.