Frank Herbert's Dune is full of incredible larger than life characters. In some cases, that's literally true. When Denis Villeneuve's film adaptation finally arrives later this year an incredible ensemble cast will be tasked with bringing them all to life. Some of these character will be good and noble, to a fault quite often. While others will be the epitome of evil. David Dastmalchian will be handling one of those roles when he plays Piter De Vries. The actor admits that creating such a twisted character was difficult for him, but he also makes him sound incredibly compelling.
Piter De Vries, while technically a human, is a very unique character in the Dune story as he is something called a Mentat-- essentially a living computer. He's also, very clearly, pure evil. These two factors come together to create one of the more chilling, and strange characters in the book. David Dastmalchian recently spoke with Slashfilm about the role, and the way that he found to access the character that helped him get a handle on his performance. According to Dastmalchian...
With Piter, there’s that psychopathy that comes from being a twisted Mentat, that is frightening and disturbing. And to put myself in his mindset was hard. So to utter a language, because Piter’s brain operates at such a high level, he is for all intents and purposes, a human computer, speaking in the highly specific way in which the language would come out was actually … it made perfect sense. It seemed to really add a great deal to the character. It felt more like an assist than an obstacle, if that makes sense.
In Dune, Mentats are trained from a young age to be able to use their minds in ways that rival computers. They can analyze data just as quickly and they're able to understand people at a fundamental level. By knowing how certain people think, they can predict behavior, and thus are able to very nearly control events. While Piter De Vries works for Baron Harkonnen in Dune, it's really De Vries who comes up with the plan that sets the action of Dune in motion.
While David Dastmalchian may be playing a pretty terrible person, he seems to relish the opportunity. He's clearly a big fan of Dune, and he's also a big fan of his director Denis Villeneuve, so it's clear the actor had a blast making this movie. Dastmalchian continues...
I also went and filmed Dune under the magnificent guidance of the visionary, who is Denis Villeneuve. I got the opportunity to bring to life a character who I love from the Frank Herbert novel Dune, which is by far one of the greatest sci-fi novels ever written, in my opinion.
Most would agree that Dune is one of the greatest sci-fi novels ever written. It's able to create not only a memorable planet where most of the action takes place. It's able to set that planet into an entire universe of politics and intrigue that feels complete and entirely real. It's because of all that that Dune has been so difficult to capture on screen in the past. Whether Denis Villeneuve finally cracked this complex story for the big screen is a huge question and we'll find out this October.