Things are going really, really well for Denis Villeneuve right now. Dune: Part Two—the sequel to his six-time Oscar-winning 2021 Dune—has gotten rapturous reviews and is on track for massive box-office success. And his career pre-Dune was also full of acclaim. But one film in particular carried so much weight, he still feels its heft from time to time.

“Blade Runner is one of my favorite films, and it’s absolutely a masterpiece,” Villeneuve said in a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “Ridley Scott is one of my favorite filmmakers, and even though he had given his blessing, it was very important for me to hear it and see it in his eyes that he was OK with me doing the movie at the time. But I was constantly thinking about the original film as I was making Blade Runner 2049. It was impossible not to.”

And frankly, it sounds like he’s still thinking about it, seven years later. “So 2049 was really a love letter to the first film, but it was by far one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever done, and I don’t think I will ever approach someone else’s universe again,” Villeneuve continued. “I still wake up sometimes at night, saying, ‘Why did I do that?’ I’d declined a few other projects of that scale, but at the time, I said to myself, ‘It’s a crazy project, but it’s worth the risk of losing everything.’”

Maybe adding extra flavor to those night terrors is the fact that Ridley Scott himself has expressed regrets over not helming the follow-up to his 1982 classic; just last year, the Napoleon filmmaker said timing conflicts meant he was forced to choose between Alien: Covenant and Blade Runner 2049: “I shouldn’t have had to make that decision … but I had to. I should have done Blade Runner 2.”

This is not the first time Villeneuve has commented on his stressful experience directing Blade Runner 2049. When the first Dune came out—his first project since 2049 was released—he remarked that “I knew when I did this movie I flirted with disaster” and that making it put him into “artistic danger,” to the point that he feared it would be a career-ender, a feeling no doubt made worse by the film’s mixed reception. Obviously, Villeneuve bounced back just fine: Dune: Part Two is in theaters now.

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