Piter De Vries

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Piter De Vries
Dune character
PiterDeVries-Brad Dourif.jpg
First appearanceDune (1965)
Last appearanceDune: House Corrino (2001)
Created byFrank Herbert
Portrayed by
OccupationTwisted Mentat
AffiliationHouse Harkonnen
Jan Unger in the Dune miniseries (2000)

Piter De Vries is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He is primarily featured in the 1965 novel Dune, but also appears in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999–2001) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

De Vries is portrayed by Brad Dourif in David Lynch's 1984 film Dune, and by Jan Unger in the 2000 Dune miniseries. The character will be played by David Dastmalchian in the upcoming Denis Villeneuve film Dune.


In the service of the ruthless Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, De Vries is a Mentat — a human specially trained to perform mental functions rivaling computers, which are forbidden universe-wide. In addition, De Vries has been "twisted" into an amoral sadist by his Tleilaxu creators.[1]

De Vries is so loyal to Harkonnen that he continues to serve the Baron with great enthusiasm even though his Mentat abilities and great intelligence confirm his suspicions that his master plans to eventually kill him.[1] As he says in Dune:

But you see, Baron, I know as a Mentat when you will send the executioner. You will hold back just so long as I am useful. To move sooner would be wasteful and I'm yet of much use.[1]

De Vries is described in the novel Dune (though not portrayed on screen) as being addicted to the drug melange, which has colored both the sclera and irises of his eyes a characteristic deep blue.[1]



Piter De Vries from The Dune Encyclopedia

In Dune, it is established that De Vries had pioneered a type of toxin called "residual poison" which remains in the body for years and requires an antidote to be administered regularly. One such fatal poison is secretly administered by the Harkonnens to Thufir Hawat, the Mentat of House Atreides, in order to keep Hawat's allegiance as the only provider of the antidote[1] (in the 1984 movie version, it is shown that Hawat has to milk a gruesome captive cat for the antidote every day).

De Vries is generally regarded as architect of the plan to destroy House Atreides, long-time enemy of the Harkonnens, while restoring the Baron's stewardship over the planet Arrakis. Through torture and psychological manipulation, De Vries breaks the Suk conditioning of Wellington Yueh, personal physician to House Atreides, which renders him incapable of inflicting harm on his patients. Yueh eventually betrays House Atreides. De Vries originally plans to claim Lady Jessica, the concubine of Duke Leto Atreides, as his slave, but he decides to become governor of Arrakis instead. However, Yueh has given the captured Leto a false tooth filled with poison gas. When Leto crushes the tooth, the intended victim Baron Harkonnen escapes, but Leto and De Vries die.[1]

Prelude to Dune[edit]

In Dune: House Corrino (published in 2001 and the third novel in the Prelude to Dune prequel series by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson), Piter De Vries discovers the Harkonnen heritage of Lady Jessica and her newborn son Paul, and attempts to kidnap and ransom the infant. The plot is thwarted and the secret preserved—the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam kills the Mentat and arranges for his corpse to be shipped home to Giedi Prime. An enraged Baron is left with no choice but to order a duplicate from the Bene Tleilax: the Mentat De Vries featured in Herbert's original novel Dune.[2]

In adaptations[edit]

De Vries is portrayed by Brad Dourif in David Lynch's 1984 film Dune,[3][4] and by Jan Unger in the 2000 Dune miniseries.[5] The character will be played by David Dastmalchian in the upcoming Denis Villeneuve film Dune.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Herbert, Frank (1965). Dune.
  2. ^ Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (2001). Dune: House Corrino.
  3. ^ "Movie Review: Dune". Variety. December 31, 1983. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  4. ^ Maslin, Janet (December 14, 1984). "Movie Review: Dune (1984)". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Bui, Hoai-Tran (February 20, 2019). "Dune Adds The Dark Knight and Ant-Man and the Wasp Actor David Dastmalchian". /Film. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  6. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (February 19, 2019). "Legendary's Dune Film Adds Ant-Man and the Wasp Actor David Dastmalchian". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 19, 2019.

External links[edit]