Jan 23, 2024

‘Dune: Part Two’ Actor Souheila Yacoub Charts Breakthrough Year With Star Turns in ‘The Balconettes,’ ‘Planet B’

Two years ago, Souheila Yacoub took a call from an unknown number – and on the other end of line was Denis Villeneuve.

“I was so blacked out thinking how unreal it all was that I didn’t really understand everything that happened,” the actor tells Variety. “All I know is he asked me to read for ‘Dune: Part Two’ and shortly thereafter he offered me the part – and I was trying to stay professional, but on the inside I was crying, ‘This is so surreal!’”

One question the Swiss-born, Paris-based gymnast-turned-actor thought best not to ask was how she found her way onto Villeneuve’s radar to begin with.

“I was so nervous that he’d made mistake – that he was actually thinking of someone else – that I never dared to ask,” she laughs. “So I just signed the contract and showed up on set.”

With a pedigree that includes stage-work with “Incendies” playwright Wajdi Mouawad ahead of eye-popping turns in Gaspar Noé’s “Climax” and Philippe Garrel’s “The Salt of Tears,” Yacoub should have had little cause for concern.

And with a 2024 filmography that boasts “Dune: Part Two,” ahead of star turns in Noemie Merlant’s genre-bender “The Balconettes” and Aude Léa Rapin sci-fi thriller “Planet B,” Yacoub will have little reason to ask such questions again.

Once the actor stepped onto the biggest set of her career, and found herself opposite Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet, Yacoub rather quickly overcame initial nerves, taking to the role of Fremen warrior Shishakli with a greater degree of ease than ever before.

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