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Austin Butler Teases His 'Ugly and Bald' “Dune: Part Two” Villain

The ‘Masters of the Air’ star revealed that his inspirations for playing the treacherous Feyd in the ‘Dune’ sequel included snakes and sharks

<p>Ian West/PA Images via Getty; Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures</p> (Left to right:) Austin Butler in 2024, in "Dune: Part Two"

Ian West/PA Images via Getty; Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

(Left to right:) Austin Butler in 2024, in "Dune: Part Two"

Austin Butler is shedding light on his Dune: Part Two character ahead of the film’s March 1 release.

At a screening and panel held Wednesday at New York's 92nd Street Y for his new Apple TV+ miniseries Masters of the Air, the Oscar-nominee teased his upcoming role using the two descriptive terms: “ugly and bald.”

In Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two, the 32-year-old Butler plays the treacherous and bloodthirsty Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, nephew of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (played by Stellan Skarsgård).

Early glimpses of the character in the sequel to the Timothée Chalamet-starring adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel have revealed that the actor is indeed hairless and borderline unrecognizable.

Related: Timothée Chalamet Rides a Sandworm in 'Dune: Part Two' Trailer — Which Promises More Zendaya

Warner Bros. Austin Butler in "Dune: Part Two"
Warner Bros. Austin Butler in "Dune: Part Two"

Interviewed by Josh Horowitz for a live recording of his Happy Sad Confused podcast at the 92nd Street Y event, Butler revealed he drew inspiration from “animals, like a snake and a shark" as he crafted his performance.

His research and preparation, he said, included “looking back at certain cultures through time that have been bred in brutality. Because that’s the thing, I was trying to find — I didn’t want to play a caricature of him, but what does somebody become when they’re born in brutality? And they must act with violence in order to survive. Who does that person become?”

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Horowitz quipped, “He looks like a sweetheart.”

“Yeah,” said Butler. “He's ugly and bald.” The Elvis actor also revealed he has seen Dune: Part Two, but didn’t divulge further details.

Related: Austin Butler Says He Needed Dialect Coach to Remove His Elvis Accent for Masters of the Air

Dune: Part Two picks up after the events of its predecessor, which saw Chalamet’s Paul Atreides recovering from the assassination of his father and dissolution of his royal house at the hands of the Harkonnens after moving to desert planet Arrakis. Per its official synopsis, Dune: Part Two follows Paul’s "mythic journey… while on a warpath of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family.”

Reprising her role as Chani, the young Fremen woman who guides Paul through the desert, is Zendaya. “Facing a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, [Paul] endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can foresee,” concludes the synopsis.

Joining Butler in the new movie are Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux and Tim Blake Nelson. Set to return are Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Charlotte Rampling and Javier Bardem.

This isn’t the first time the ruthless Feyd has been brought to the big screen. In the 1984 film adaptation of Herbert’s tale, from writer-director David Lynch, the villain was played by Sting opposite Kyle MacLachlan as Paul.

Butler also revealed Wednesday that at one point in his career he had to “choose between going to the screen test for Top Gun: Maverick or saying yes to Quentin Tarantino, who directed the actor in 2019’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

Denise Chamian, casting director for Top Gun's Tom Cruise-led sequel, told Variety that the role Butler was up for was Rooster — which ultimately went to Miles Teller.

Related: Masters of the Air Review: Austin Butler and Barry Keoghan Are Flying Aces in Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's WWII Drama

<p>Eric Charbonneau/Getty</p> (Left to right:) Callum Turner, Barry Keoghan and Austin Butler on Jan. 10

Eric Charbonneau/Getty

(Left to right:) Callum Turner, Barry Keoghan and Austin Butler on Jan. 10

Masters of the Air stars Butler, Callum Turner, Anthony Boyle, Barry Keoghan and more as members of the 100th Bomb Group who fought in WWII. 

Butler, who plays Major Gale “Buck” Cleven in the series, told PEOPLE that training in boot camp with the cast prior to filming helped them bond — and also made it “so it was just even across the board. There was this equality amongst everybody and that's really refreshing and a great way to start.”

Masters of the Air begins airing episodes on Apple TV+ starting Friday. 

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