Duke Leto is a noble leader guided by duty to his people and love for his family. As head of House Atreides, he has built a reputation for mercy over malice, principle over power, and courage over fear. When called to bring peace to the endangered planet of Arrakis, he must prepare his only son Paul for the dangers that lie ahead.
Accepting Stewardship of Arrakis
After House Harkonnen fail to bring peace to the Fremen and Arrakis, the Emperor invites House Atreides, and therefore Leto, to take over the stewardship of Arrakis. Despite the reputation of Arrakis — and the dangers of controlling the flow of Spice through the Imperium — Leto accepts.
Despite being happy to oblige in the Emperor's request, Leto talks with his son, Paul, about the dangers of Arrakis. He explains that the houses look to Atreides for guidance and in turn, this influence threatens the Emperor's power; Leto explains that the Emperor's move is a power-play and knows that this will cause a fight between the great houses. Leto tells Paul that they will rise to the occasion, however, and will bring peace to Arrakis together.
Usurpation by the Harkonnen's
Not long after settling in Arrakeen — the capital of Arrakis — an attempt is made on Paul's life that puts the Duke and House Atreides on high alert. Unbeknownst to them, however, they have been betrayed by none other than their advisor, Dr. Yueh, who disables the shield wall and blocks their communications. Moments later, Arrakeen is bombarded by a hoard of both Harkonnen troops and the Sardaukar.
Yueh is able to neutralise Leto with a poison dart, which leaves him paralysed but able to understand and communicate to a degree. When Leto questions why, Yueh tells him that he is sorry but the head of Harkonnen, Vladimir, has taken his wife and threatens her life. Yueh plans to trade Leto's life for his wife, but implants a poison gas into an implant in his tooth. Yueh tells him to activate the poison when in the vicinity of Vladimir, killing the Baron and himself in the process.
Captured and in the hands of the Harkonnen's, Leto is brought before Vladimir and the two talk. Vladimir teases Leto about the fall of House Atreides and the weakness exhibited by their army. This angers Leto and, when Vladimir comes closer, Leto activates the poison by crushing the implant. Leto is killed instantly and most Harkonnen's in the room. Unfortunately, Vladimir survives the attack with thanks to his shield.
Differences from the original character
Duke Leto is adapted from the character of the same name from the first original Dune novel. The two characters are largely the same, with only minor differences. In the novel, the Emperor aids House Harkonnen in disposing of Leto because he fears the power he has with a small force of troops that pose a threat to the Sardaukar; in the movie, no mention of the troops are made.
Leto's dying words in the film are, "Here I am, here I remain." In the books, these words are proclaimed by Leto upon his arrival on Arrakis.
- Oscaar Isaac explained that when he was first cast in in the role (in January 2019) one of the first things he did was contact actor William Hurt - who had previously played Duke Leto in the 2000 TV miniseries, and whom Isaac already knew from working on a prior project together. Hurt had treated his role as Duke Leto very seriously, so he responded by sending Isaac "pages and pages of texts" on the philosophy behind Dune, Leto as a character, how he represents all that is best of human ethics and nobility, etc. Due to the film's release being delayed by the COVID pandemic, it didn't ultimately have its global premiere until October 2021 - less than five months before Hurt's death on March 20, 2022. In a subsequent interview on April 5, 2022, Isaac revealed the story of how much advice Hurt had given him and how thankful he was for all the help he gave to prepare for the role.
|Characters from Dune (2021)|