How Dune: Part Two Coerced Christopher Walken Out Of A 4-Year Movie Acting Hiatus

Christopher Walken has a small but highly memorable role in "Dune: Part Two," stealing scenes as Shaddam IV, the Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe. You might not have realized this, but Walken's appearance in "Dune: Part Two" marks his first time on the big screen in four years (he appeared on the small screen via Apple TV+'s "Severance"). It wasn't that Walken was retired, he just was suddenly not working in movies. There was a period where it felt like Walken was popping up nearly everywhere, be it in Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" music video (which has a "Dune" connection Walken recently admitted he didn't even know about), or his frequent appearances on "Saturday Night Live." But then, suddenly, Walken was gone from films. 

But now he's back, and thank heavens for that. Walken is 80 years old, which means he might not want to take on too many more movie roles. But his work in "Dune: Part Two" is so solid, and so memorable, that I really hope it inspires more filmmakers to throw more parts his way, provided he still wants to work. Speaking of which, you might be wondering what coaxed Walken back onto the big screen. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Walken opened up about his return to movies. 

'I sort of trusted that to happen'

When asked by Vanity Fair why he returned to movie acting for "Dune: Part Two," Walken said that it was an opportunity that seemed too good to pass up. "I had, of course, seen the first 'Dune' a number of times," Walken stated. "I loved it, and I admired [director Denis 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."

Three weeks of work, hanging out in a beautiful city with great actors? What's not to love? And just how did Walken get into the mindset of playing the Emperor of the Known Universe? "I can tell you that it's probably better not to think about it," the actor said. "When I was young, I had to play a king in something. I was in a Shakespeare play. It was Henry II. And an older actor said to me, 'Don't worry about it.' He said, 'If the director sets it up so that people treat you like the king, you don't have to do much.' And I sort of trusted that to happen." That makes sense — if I was on a set with Christopher Walken, I would just automatically treat him like the Emperor of the Known Universe. 

"Dune: Part Two" is now in theaters.