Stephen McKinley Henderson on Thufir Hawat and acting

Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat in Dune, with eyes rolled into the back of his head.

Picture: Warner Bros.

Dune has a stacked cast of actors both established and on the rise, from Timothée Chalamet as the supposed Messiah Paul Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson as his mother Jessica to Jason Momoa as the lovable warrior Duncan Idaho. But few of the movie’s stars have “oh, that’s that guy!” energy by character actor Stephen McKinley Henderson. Like Thufir Hawat, Henderson’s computer man for House Atreides is not the most sensational role in the film, but that has not stopped people from noticing his character … and also the sweet parasol he cultivates as he walks around the desert planet. Arrakis.

Henderson has been around as an actor for decades, but in an interview with Vulture, he admitted that he never thought he would be “in a movie of this stature.” It was only recently that he really started thinking about how his journey as a film and TV actor changed, which he partly attributed to Vulture listing him as one of the greats character actors working today. What’s more, he had not read the original Frank Herbert novel; a friend would occasionally quote passages from the book after him because of Henderson’s interest in theology and philosophy. It was only after director Denis Villeneuve sought him out specifically for the role that he dived into the novel. “It became one of my favorite books,” he said, understanding the hype surrounding it.

The whole interview is good, and Henderson appears as a sweet guy, as seen when he calls the author, after the interview is over, to howl about his role in Halle Berry’s upcoming MMA movie, Suggested. Henderson, who comes primarily from theater work, offers an interesting insight into the wider world Dune. He called it “Shakespeare” and pointed out how everything depends on Paul. “It’s not like they know what a messianic journey he’s on – he’s simply the crown prince of the House of Atreides, who will one day be king … the focal point of this wonderful film by Denis is that Paul’s future is important . ”

When it came to playing Thufir in the movie and squirting one lot of sci-fi jargon, Henderson focused on the character’s empathy, as seen when he offered his resignation after a failed assassination attempt on Paul. This is where the umbrella came in: While shooting in Budapest on a hot day, Henderson was offered an umbrella by someone to protect him while sitting down. When Villeneuve noticed this, they quickly agreed that Thufir wanted an umbrella. “It was just one of those spontaneous things … it’s something that non-humans would be attracted to. I just think it’s the desire to really be a part of these wonderful people as the alien he is, ” Henderson said, adding that an umbrella is quite “civilized” for his character to have. “It just says so much about where he is at the time and that he takes care of himself. He was a young man once. “

Dune is in theaters and on HBO Max now.

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