‘Dune 2’ Deleted Scene: Stephen McKinley Henderson Says Filming With Austin Butler Was ‘the Most Fun’ — Before His Character Was Cut

Director Denis Villeneuve separately laments removing Thufir Hawat as a “painful choice”

Stephen McKinley Henderson Austin Butler Dune
Stephen McKinley Henderson and Austin Butler in "Dune" and "Dune: Part Two" (Credit: Warner Bros.)

Sad news for “Dune” fans everywhere: Stephen McKinley Henderson’s Thufir Hawat was cut from the final version of “Dune: Part Two.”

But in an interview from August 2023, it’s clear the beloved character actor still had a lot of fun bringing House Atreides’ Mentat back to the screen — desert heat and all.

While it is evident that his character survived the action of “Part One,” little is known of what director Denis Villeneuve intended for Thufir’s original “Part Two” plot line. But from the sound of it, he memorably shared some of his screen time with Austin Butler’s psychotic Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. Acting opposite Butler was the “most fun” Henderson had on the sequel, the actor said.

“What I had the most fun with this last time was working with Austin Butler, who played Elvis recently,” Henderson said on his alma mater’s “This Is Purdue” podcast in an interview conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike.

“What a nice person. He’s just the nicest guy and — he and Timmy [Chalamet] — both just wonderful people and they play such nemesis in the film, so it was wonderful to see them off camera. And Austin was so nice to me,” the 74-year-old actor said, revealing that Butler was particularly supportive after he had a “medical emergency” while shooting their scenes and had to “go away.”

“When I came back, and he played a character that was not very happy with me at all, and he was quite chilling, and I was giving him back the looks, but when they say, ‘Cut,’ he would come over and say, ‘Mr. Henderson, are you OK? Can I help you? Can I get you anything?’ He was just so nice.”

“I just so appreciated Austin — a wonderful, wonderful person,” Henderson concluded.

The filming conditions were indeed physically demanding for all of the project’s actors. In a February interview with Entertainment Weekly, Butler recalled filming his first scene in a desert gladiator arena made of two soundstages that “became like a microwave” in 110-degree heat.

“There were people passing out from heatstroke. And that was just my first week,” Butler remembered, adding, “It really bonds the entire crew. There’s something so humbling about being in such an uncomfortable environment.”

Separately speaking to EW closer to the film’s opening, Villeneuve reflected on needing to kill some darlings in the editing process — including the “most painful” choice of cutting Henderson’s Thufir from “Part Two,” despite having completed filming.

“He’s a character I absolutely love, but I decided right at the beginning that I was making a Bene Gesserit adaptation. That meant that Mentats are not as present as they should be, but it’s the nature of the adaptation,” Villeneuve said.

Still, if Henderson’s August interview is any indication, his opinion of Villeneuve remains unsullied.

“Denis Villeneuve is a great filmmaker, and the ‘Dune’ fans will not be disappointed in ‘Part Two,’” he told the podcast. “I can assure you, if you enjoy ‘Part One,’ get ready, because it’s a fabulous, fabulous journey.”

Fingers crossed there will be reason enough for Thufir to appear in a still-unannounced “Dune: Part Three.”

“Dune: Part Two” is in theaters now.

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