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Dune 2 star Stellan Skarsgård shares his unexpected reaction to Austin Butler as ‘terrifying’ villain

Dune: Part Two star Stellan Skarsgård has shared his unexpected reaction to Austin Butler playing the “terrifying” villain Feyd-Rautha.

The Swedish actor returned to act as the ruthless antagonist Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in Dennis Villeneuve’s new sequel to Dune.

When asked about his first response to the Elvis actor’s performance as his cruel heir and younger nephew Feyd-Rautha, which has been branded “terrifying” by those who have already seen the film, Skarsgård said he “laughed”.

In an interview with Variety at the New York premiere of the movie on Sunday (25 February), the 72-year-old joked: “I laughed so much because it was so obvious he really enjoyed being evil.”

Skarsgård praised his co-star in the interview, saying: “He’s such a good actor but most of all he’s such a lovely and fun person to be with.”

Butler modelled his voice in the movie on Skarsgård’s Baron, telling the Los Angeles Times: “There was a period where I just thought I’d use my own voice but something felt too contemporary about it.

“Then one night it dawned on me that Feyd grew up with the Baron as his vision of power and something sparked in me.”

Stellan Skarsgård, left, and Austin Butler, right, star in the blockbuster out in March (Getty Images)
Stellan Skarsgård, left, and Austin Butler, right, star in the blockbuster out in March (Getty Images)

Skarsgård was impressed with the outcome and said listening to Butler’s voice was “like hearing an echo”, calling it “very precise”.

In The Independent’s five-star review of the movie, film critic Clarisse Loughrey said Butler played Feyd-Rautha “without a trace of the Elvis drawl, but with such an uncanny Skarsgård impersonation that sons Alexander, Gustaf, Bill and Valter should be concerned they’re about to be replaced.”

Austin Butler, left, and Lea Seydoux, right, in a scene from the movie (AP)
Austin Butler, left, and Lea Seydoux, right, in a scene from the movie (AP)

The movie based on the sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert has received largely glowing reviews from all corners, with Loughrey continuing, “Butler not only cleanses the mind of any memory of Sting in metal underpants (from David Lynch’s notorious 1984 take) but commits every cell of his body, from his bald head to ink-stained teeth, to snarling and slaying his way across the universe.”

Villeneuve has described Part Two as “an epic war movie” and “much more dense” than the first.

He recently defended the movie’s running time saying that the film’s distributor, Warner Bros Pictures, did not ask for it to be cut down, adding: “It was almost the opposite” he told The Times.

The film’s official logline describes it as “the mythic journey of Paul Atreides as he unites with Chani and the Fremen while on a warpath of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family.”

Dune: Part Two is in cinemas from 1 March.