Denis Villeneuve ("Arrival," "Blade Runner 2049") directs the sci-fi epic "Dune," based on the Frank Herbert novel and starring Timothee Chalamet. USA TODAY


Timothee Chalamet is a big deal on Earth. On the desert planet Arrakis, he might just be a messiah.

Based on Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 sci-fi novel, the highly anticipated epic “Dune” (in theaters Dec. 18) released its first trailer on Wednesday and showcased Chalamet as 15-year-old Paul Atreides, a young lad new to a dusty and treacherous landscape who has visions of a girl with glowing blue eyes and has to deal with ginormous sandworms.

"I must not fear," Paul intones. "Fear is the mind killer. When the fear is gone, only I will remain."

Making “Dune” was “one of the most inspiring and changing experiences of my life. People may say that kind of stuff all the time in acting, but I can say that plainly right now because I mean it,” Chalamet said at a virtual Q&A ahead of the trailer's launch.

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Directed and co-written by Denis Villeneuve (“Blade Runner 2049”), “Dune” is set in a far-flung future where the most valuable resource in the galaxy is “spice,” a mind-altering substance that increases life span and boosts human abilities. Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), Paul’s father, is tasked to oversee the spice-mining operations on Arrakis, though the noble House Atreides comes under threat by the rival House Harkonnen, ruled by the villainous Baron Vladimir (Stellan Skarsgard).

Isaac said Duke Leto tries to impart "bigger ideals" such as sensitivity, empathy, love and order to his son, "knowing he's not going to be there forever." And Paul's mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) is a member of the powerful superhuman sisterhood known as the Bene Gesserit. "Her decisions basically create fracture and disrupt everything," Ferguson said.

Set to a dynamic choral cover of Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse,” the new trailer gives a glimpse of the massive “Dune” cast, including Zendaya as Chani, the girl who haunts Paul’s dreams and is a member of the planet’s native Fremen people. “Upon their first meeting, she's tough, she's a warrior,” Zendaya said. “This is all she knows. This other kid coming in, she's not really feeling it. But she sees something in him that is obviously an indicator of what is to come.”

Fans also get to check out Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, House Atreides’ greatest warrior; Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, a warmaster and musician who like Duncan has a soft spot for Paul; and Javier Bardem as Stilgar, a Fremen tribe leader.

The footage also shows the size and scope of Villeneuve’s vision for "Dune," which will be the first of two movies. There are elements of the director’s past efforts such as “Arrival” and “Blade Runner” but also a sense of how the original source material (previously adapted by David Lynch for 1984's "Dune") influenced “Star Wars” and “Game of Thrones.”

“It has so many roots and so many themes,” said Villeneuve, 52, who read "Dune" when he was Paul Atreides’ age. “It's a very powerful human story and I was grabbed right at the beginning of the first pages.”

Because “Dune” deals with climate change, clashes between cultures and coming-of-age themes, “there is a metaphor and a lesson in this movie for everyone,” Chalamet said.

“As humans, we need to earn our destiny in order to change the world," Villeneuve said. "And for me the movie is a kind of call for action to change things, specifically for the youth. It is about fate and destiny.”

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