The cast of Dune is growing.
Weeks after Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird's Timothee Chalamet reportedly joined the cast in the lead role of Paul Atreides, we now know who director Denis Villeneuve is eyeing to play Paul's mother. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rebecca Ferguson, most recently seen in Mission: Impossible - Fallout, is "in negotiations" to co-star in the film as Lady Jessica.
In Frank Herbert's legendary epic sci-fi novel, Lady Jessica is the concubine to Paul's father, Duke Leto Atreides, and she's also a Bene Gesserit, and thus part of a secretive sisterhood with a long tradition of training body and mind to develop superhuman abilities. She teaches the way of Bene Gesserit to her forbidden son, Paul (she was instructed by her superiors to bear a daughter as part of a long-running Bene Gesserit breeding program), and when House Harkonnen's plans to destroy House Atreides come to fruition, the pair are forced to flee into the deserts of Arrakis together, where they connect with the nomadic Fremen people. As Paul grows stronger among the Fremen, Jessica casts him as their messiah, and works alongside him to build them into an army.
After successful television efforts like the BBC series The White Queen in 2013, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination, Ferguson broke out in a big way in 2015 with a scene-stealing role as Ilsa Faust in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, a role which she reprised in Fallout earlier this year. That success has since led to roles in films like The Greatest Showman and Life, and even bigger upcoming projects. If she closes the deal for Dune it will mark the third high-profile genre project she's joined this year alone, along with the upcoming MIB and The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep.
Villeneuve, whose past acclaimed genre films include Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, has long considered an adaptation of Dune to be a dream project, and fans have long considered him to be a director who could actually get the project off the ground. Now, it's closer than ever to being a reality, as the production is set to kick off early next year with a script by Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, and Eric Roth, and the cooperation of the Frank Herbert estate and longtime Dune series writer Kevin J. Anderson.