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Black Widow's Florence Pugh set to join 'Dune: Part II' as galactic royalty

The fast rising Black Widow star is in serious talks to play Princess Irulan.

By Josh Weiss
Florence Pugh GETTY

Florence Pugh has found her next major genre franchise. Thanks to Deadline, we now have word that the fast rising Black Widow and Hawkeye star is currently in serious talks to join Denis Villeneuve's Dune: Part II as galactic royalty, Princess Irulan.

If Pugh does end up boarding the highly-anticipated sequel, she'll be the first new addition to an already stacked cast of Hollywood A-listers that boasts Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, and Stellan Skarsgård. Scheduled to bow in the fall of next year, Part II will adapt the second half of Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi novel about warring houses on a desert planet containing a valuable commodity known as "spice."

The daughter of the Padishah Emperor who reigns supreme over the galaxy's various royal houses, Princess Irulan doesn't appear in the flesh until much later in the source material. However, the character does have a significant presence from the very beginning of the narrative with various words of wisdom and historical recollections that precede many chapters throughout the novel.

Villeneuve, who plans to kick off production at the end of the summer, recently teased the arrival of the Emperor in the second blockbuster installment. For all intents and purposes, the character is the big bad of the story, having quietly given House Harkonnen the green-light to betray Duke Leto Leto Atreides on Arrakis. 

"I feel that things you don't see are very often more powerful than the things that you actually don't see," the filmmaker said. "It's much more interesting to hear about this omniscient character, and the Emperor becomes so much more powerful because you don't see him. You hear his influence and feel his power, his shadow, over the whole movie. It's much more interesting than if I had him in this first part."

If Villeneuve has his way, the current series on the big screen will end up spanning three movies, with the trilogy capper tackling the second entry in Herbert's original saga: Dune Messiah (1969). "As a filmmaker and as a screenwriter, I know how to do this," he told SYFY WIRE ahead of the world premiere of Part I at the Venice Film Festival. "When we decided to split the first novel in two, now we are at three movies. But those movies are very long to make, so for my mental sanity, I decided to just dream about three movies. After that, because I am a big fan of all the novels, I'll see where I am."

The director also described the first chapter as "an appetizer," promising that Part II "is the main meal where we can add much more." 

Dune: Part I was released into theaters and on HBO Max at the same time last October. While Villeneuve was publicly opposed to the hybrid release model (adopted in response to COVID-19 pandemic), the film still managed to bring in $400 million at the global box office.

As of right now, Dune: Part II is targeting a theatrical release date of Oct. 20, 2023.