After a long journey, the prequel TV series of HBO Max’s Dune is undergoing some substantial changes. Production has been put on hold as the search for a new director is underway.
The original director, Johan Renck, executive producer of Chernobyl, has left the project. Shirley Henderson, who was set to star as Tula Harkonnen, has also exited the series, and her role will be recast. Additionally, Diane Ademu-John, who wrote the pilot script, has stepped down as co-showrunner. Alison Schapker, a veteran TV writer-producer, has become the sole showrunner. These changes have been challenging, but the series is still on its way to the screen.
A spokesperson from HBO Max shared with Deadline
“As Dune: The Sisterhood (wt) has entered a pre-scheduled hiatus, there are some creative changes being made to the production in an effort to create the best series possible and stay true to the source material. Johan Renck has completed his work on the series and a new director will be brought on; through mutual agreement, Johan is moving on to pursue other projects. Additionally, Shirley Henderson will be exiting the series and will no longer be playing Tula Harkonnen.”
We’ve heard that the streamer had no further comment on the 11th-hour showrunner switch-up. It’s been said that the pressure was on Schapker and her team to make some significant changes on the go as production was starting up in Budapest. It appears that Renck’s artistic approach didn’t fit with the streamer’s vision for the series, and as a result, he had to part ways. He has since removed any Dune material from his Instagram, including the post from November 22nd, which announced the start of production. It’s unclear if any footage he shot will be used, so the new director must make that call when they come on board.
When it comes to the current halt in production, we hear different stories. People close to the production are saying that it was always part of the plan to take a break for the winter, but others claim that the delay is seven months long to give Schapker and her team a chance to put their creative mark on the scripts, as well as to find a new director.
There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding Henderson’s recent departure. It’s unclear if it’s due to the creative changes, Renck’s exit, or the new start of production, but it’s caused a significant delay in production which has thrown the actors’ schedules into disarray. This could potentially lead to more exits and recastings.