Austin Butler’s Voice In Dune 2 Explained
6 mins read

Austin Butler’s Voice In Dune 2 Explained


  • Austin Butler’s distinct voice for Feyd-Rautha in Dune: Part Two is a deliberate attempt to impersonate Stellan Skarsgård’s character, Baron Vladimir.
  • Butler’s commitment to creating unique vocal performances, seen in Dune and Elvis, adds depth and richness to Feyd-Rautha’s character.
  • Through careful imitation and character analysis, Butler’s portrayal of Feyd-Rautha as a tragic figure manipulated by his upbringing enhances the character.



Austin Butler imbues Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen with a distinct and sinister characterization in Dune: Part Two – typified by his strange voice. Given Butler’s other notable live-action performances, such as in Masters of the Air and Elvis, his distinctive cadence in Dune: Part Two is particularly notable. However, there is a very good reason for Butler’s approach – one that actually enhances Feyd-Rautha’s character in the movie.

Throughout both Dune: Part One and Dune: Part Two, the Harkonnens are shown to be a dangerous and terrifying presence in the Imperium. Although Feyd-Rautha only appears in Dune: Part Two, the trend is established with Stellan Skarsgård’s formidable Baron Vladimir and Dave Bautista’s Beast Rabban, identifying the dynasty as sadistic antagonists from the outset. House Harkonnen shares several unifying characteristics, such as shaved heads and eerie translucent skin. Austin Butler’s performance, however, takes these similarities to a new level in a subtle way that ultimately makes his character richer.


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Austin Butler Is Trying To Sound Like Stellan Skarsgård In Dune 2

Feyd Rautha embraces the Baron Harkonnen in Dune 2

Throughout Dune: Part Two, Austin Butler’s Feyd Rautha voice is actually a deliberate attempt to impersonate Stellan Skarsgård’s Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. This trait is not mentioned in Frank Herbert’s original Dune source novel. However, the approach does make perfect sense for the character, considering his upbringing and social conditioning. As Butler himself explained in an interview (via Screen Rant):

“…it dawned on me that he would’ve grown up with the Baron, and the Baron being the one who has the most power and how we end up soaking in through osmosis those traits of people that we grow up with, but particularly those that we admire in some way.”

Although this represents a departure from the original book, it adds a new richness to Feyd-Rautha’s character. While, on the surface, he seems little more than a psychotic killer, his imitation of his uncle’s voice shows how he has been manipulated and conditioned throughout his life. In other words, he has been made into a monster, rather than being born to it. Coupled with his part in the wider Bene Gesserit plot, this adds a tragic aspect to Feyd-Rautha that makes him a more compelling villain.

How Austin Butler Created His Feyd-Rautha Voice For Dune 2

Butler’s development of Feyd-Rautha’s voice involved a combination of careful imitation and character analysis. The 32-year-old actor worked with Tim Monich to recreate Skarsgård’s accent and intonation. Additionally, he looked back into Feyd-Rautha’s childhood to consider how an upbringing on Geidi Prime might have defined him. As he explained to Screen Rant:

“(Monich) helped me to really hone in on Stellan’s voice and what he does in the film. It is also just figuring out how his childhood shapes him into who he becomes. When you’re raised in brutality, you have a necessity for violence in order to be able to survive, so I think that ends up changing the way that his mind is.”

Considering both of these factors was central to ensuring that Butler’s Feyd-Rautha voice wasn’t just a dodgy impression. The result is that, while initially unsettling, Butler’s Feyd-Rautha becomes a tragic portrait of an heir trying to do his family proud while being manipulated by factors beyond his control or awareness. Such nuance helps make him a much more interesting villain – especially when compared to Sting’s winged-underpants-wearing version in David Lynch’s Dune.



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Dune 2 Continues Austin Butler’s Voice Trend

Austin Butler in Elvis and Dune Part Two

Butler’s decision to replicate Skarsgård’s voice is not just a clever piece of character development, but it also continues one of the actor’s strangest career trends. Although his career is relatively short-lived, Butler is already making a name for himself by committing to eccentric vocal performances. In addition to his work as Feyd-Rautha, the most obvious example is his performance in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis.

As the titular rockstar, Butler worked diligently to recreate Elvis’ signature southern drawl. Such was his commitment that, come the end of filming, he found it difficult to shake the accent, leading to a series of strange interviews where it sounded like he was still trying to impersonate the real Presley. His impersonation of Skarsgård is not as all-consuming, or central to the plot, as his commitment to Elvis. Nevertheless, the fact that Butler is so prepared to use his voice to enhance his characters sets an interesting precedent for his future, post-Dune: Part Two.

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