Timothée Chalamet Plays The Same Character In Dune & Little Women

Hear me out.

by Ryan Britt
Timothée Chalamet’s 'Dune' & 'Little Women' Characters Are The Same
Sony Pictures/Warner Bros.

As a civil war rages, one man, born of privilege, decides to marry a woman from a struggling family, even though he clearly loves another. Is the proposal born of love or convenience? Does the woman reciprocate the feelings, or is she protecting herself from a classist and sexist society? And are we talking about Little Women or Dune?

Yes. One of the more surprising twists of Dune: Part Two — the jaw-dropping sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 sci-fi drama — is how style savant-turned-internet-babygirl Timothée Chalamet has accidentally reprised his role from 2019’s Little Women.

If you’re new to the Duniverse, Chalamet plays aristocrat Paul Atriedes, a heart-of-gold dude who’s determined to save the people of Arrakis from classist oppression. Dune: Part Two is one of the biggest epics of the year, and captures the political and social cautionary tale of the original novel brilliantly. And if you somehow missed Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated Little Women, first: shame on you. But in that film, adapted from Louisa May Alcott’s 19th-century novel, Chalamet plays Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, also a monied guy, and one determined to help the March family during the American Civil War. Major Dune: Part Two spoilers ahead.

Sure, Laurie isn’t the main character of Little Women in the way that Paul fronts Dune, but in both stories, each character exists in a world of women — whether it’s the industrious March sisters or Dune’s Bene Gesserit.

They both lean progressive compared to their fellow men, which is demonstrated by their (wild! outlandish!) desire to be considered equal to the women they love. In Little Women, Laurie is constantly trying to impress Jo March (Saoirse Ronan), not the other way around. And in Dune: Part Two, Paul states it explicitly, telling Chani (Zendaya), “I’d like to be equal to you.”

Paul (Timothée Chalamet) and Chani (Zendaya) in Dune: Part Two.Warner Bros.

Mentors also play pivotal roles for both characters: Paul’s teachers Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa); and Laurie’s tutor, Mr. John Brooke (James Norton). And similarly to how Paul and Laurie treat the women as equals, they do the same with their instructors, who are all lower-class than the main men.

So they’re clearly good guys, but that doesn’t mean their relationships are smooth sailing. In Little Women, Laurie is rejected by Jo so that she can pursue a writing career. (Heartbroken, he later reunites with and marries her younger sister, Amy, played by Dune actor Florence Pugh.) And oddly enough, Paul goes through a similarly tangled romantic journey in Dune — also with Pugh.

In the new film, Pugh plays Princess Irulan. Consider her the Amy March of Arrakis. Sure, she doesn’t have quite the comedic chops of Amy, but she does have five sisters (according to the book), and that’s only skimming the surface of their similarities.

At the end of the movie, Irulan agrees to marry Paul as his “willing bride” in order to save her family and heal a political rift. You can see in her eyes a hint of admiration for Paul, so even if it’s a marriage of convenience, she clearly respects him.

Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) and Amy (Florence Pugh) in Little Women.SonyPictures/Wilson Webb

As the Dune books go on, Irulan comes to love Paul, even though his heart will always belong to Chani, who’s a type of Jo March reincarnate.

If you look at the early meet-cute sandwalking scenes between Paul and Chani in the new film, you can see Chalamet pulling some of his Laurie tricks. He’ll present himself as an authority on a subject (in this case: the safest way to cross an alien desert), but then pull back and defer to the lady present. Ditto Little Women, when Amy and Laurie reconnect in France. He’s got an off-putting, cocky swagger about him, but he’s self-aware about it. Walking that line is arguably the key to the Chalamet charm in both stories.

Look, Chalamet (and Pugh) didn’t plan this. Or maybe they did? In a 2021 interview for my book, The Spice Must Flow, Chalamet said that he felt emboldened to do Dune because his experience on Little Women gave him some of the confidence needed to tackle yet another beloved novel. “That’s something I learned from Greta Gerwig,” Chalamet said. “Nobody minds another good adaptation of a good book.”