Dune's Josh Brolin Had A Gassy Habit When It Came To The Ornithopter

Though they're undeniably successful, large parts of Denis Villeneuve's "Dune" movies can come off a little bleak. Still, there's no denying the sheer coolness factor of the ornithopters. The aircraft used by House Atreides to traverse the desert landscapes of the planet Arrakis are one of the most memorable elements of the "Dune" aesthetic, combining the form of a dragonfly with elements of helicopter design and producing something so visually striking that LEGO has since produced one of the coolest building brick vehicles ever with its ornithopter set.

Production designer Patrice Vermette began working on the ornithopter back in 2018 and drew from a multitude of inspirations, including insects and birds on the natural side of things and helicopters on the more technological side. Once the design had been nailed down, the production team actually built large parts of the 'thopters to allow the "Dune" actors to interact with the hardware. British actor Sharon Duncan-Brewster, who played Imperial Planetologist Dr. Liet-Kynes in Villeneuve's "Dune" movies, commented on the vehicles in a behind-the-scenes featurette, noting, "They've been constructed in such a way that when you're next to them the amount of detail that they have is amazing. I was just blown away really." Meanwhile, Duncan-Brewster's colleague Rebecca Ferguson, who played Lady Jesscia in the films, said, "I love how childish everyone is when it comes to talking about these incredible things. Ornithopters that look like flying bugs and beetles."

But while talking in such simple terms about these elaborate sci-fi contraptions that took years to design and create could indeed be deemed childish, nobody, it seems, was as juvenile about the whole thing as Josh Brolin.

Brolin's gas made things easier on Sharon Duncan-Brewster

When it came time to introduce Apple TV+ viewers to irascible MI5 agent Jackson Lamb, Oscar-winner Gary Oldman came up with the idea to open the streamer's "Slow Horses" series with a fart. Lamb's flatulence signaled his absolute disdain for decorum and dignity right from the offset, and viewers immediately knew what they were in for. What does any of that have to do with "Dune"? Well, for those interested in the storied history of flatulence in Hollywood, you might also be intrigued by an even more practical use of one's intestinal gas — a non-diegetic fart, if you will.

Take Josh Brolin, who plays the War Master of House Atreides Gurney Halleck in "Dune" and its sequel. According to Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Brolin took it upon himself to wait until he and the actor were sitting in one of the practical ornithopters built for "Dune" to let loose. As Duncan-Brewster told The Hollywood Reporter, the scene in question involved her, Brolin, Oscar Isaac, and Timothée Chalamet's characters venturing into the Arrakis plains to retrieve a stranded spice-harvesting crew. "These are the big boys and girls of Hollywood [...] This was also the one scene that stuck in my head as, 'You've got to get this right, Sharon,'" the actor explained.

You can understand that being surrounded by some of the biggest names in Hollywood might have felt more than a little intimidating. Luckily, Brolin's expert use of gas made things a little easier on Duncan-Brewster:

"My man Josh Brolin tended to fart a lot when we were in the ornithopter. So I don't know if that had to do with motion or with diet, but that's one of the things that would always pluck a laugh from me."

Dune was an intimidating project for everyone involved

According to Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Josh Brolin's flatulence wasn't the only lighthearted moment while filming what are two of the most serious sci-fi blockbusters of recent years. The actor claimed that "there was always a joke a minute with these boys," referring to her male co-stars. But it seems that from her perspective, that was a good thing:

"At that point, I was pretty shy because I was so shocked to be in an ornithopter, in a capsule where we couldn't escape, with the wonderful Josh Brolin, who I had posters of in my bedroom as a kid. We were there for many days, so after a while, of course I spoke and of course I laughed and joked. But at first, I was pretty shy. But the farts, I think he's such a sensitive human being. He understands a lot of what's going on in other human being's minds, and I honestly suspect that he was farting for my benefit. I'm going to say that he was just putting people at ease, but we had a lot of laughs in the ornithopter doing that particular scene."

A project such as "Dune," with all its big-name stars, would have been intimidating for anyone stepping on-set. Even Dave Bautista, who played, Glossu "The Beast" Rabban Harkonnen, spoke about being intimidated by Feyd-Rautha actor Austin Butler. But it seems Butler surprised Bautista by being so warm and humble that the wrestler-turned-actor immediately relaxed. He might have needed flatulence to do the same, but Brolin's trick seemed to work just as well.