The history of adapting Frank Herbert’s “Dune” for the big screen is a long and well-documented one, full of missed opportunities and what could have been. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s version would have been highly ambitious but was considered undoable on any reasonable studio budget. And the version we ended up getting from David Lynch is considered one of the weaker entries in his filmography and didn’t satisfy fans of the novel.
But hope returned when Denis Villeneuve was announced as the director of the remake, especially after he commented that he was looking to stay closer to the novel than Lynch did. And back in July, we were given even more reason to anticipate the upcoming adaptation, when Call Me By Your Name star Timothée Chalamet was given the lead role.
And now we have yet another reason to be hopeful about Villeneuve’s Dune— according to The Hollywood Reporter, Mission: Impossible – Fallout‘s Rebecca Ferguson is the latest addition to the cast. Ferguson will play Lady Jessica, a role previously performed by Francesca Annis in the Lynch version. Jessica is the mother of Paul Atreides (Chalamet) and has a key role in the book series.
Ferguson has proven herself to be one hell of a screen presence in recent years, and her upcoming roles suggest we’ll be seeing much more engaging work from her. The first time I recall seeing her on the big screen was in 2014’s Hercules, in which she delightfully chews up the scenery alongside Dwayne Johnson. But it was a year later that her career really took off.
2015 saw her steal the show in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, with a mysterious and wonderfully badass performance as Ilsa Faust, a British spy with shifting allegiances. And after a performing in a mixed bag of roles (not even she could save The Snowman), Ferguson returned to the M:I series this year. Ilsa may have had less to do this time, but she dominated in every moment she was onscreen.
And recent months have shown that her career is showing no signs of slowing down. First, it was announced that she would play the main antagonist, Rose the Hat, in the adaptation of Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep,” his sequel to “The Shining.” Soon after, we learned that Ferguson would also be joining Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth in the upcoming Men In Black spinoff. Her profile continues to rise, and thankfully it seems as though studios are beginning to take notice.
If Villeneuve’s recent movies are anything to go by, we may be about to see Ferguson’s best role to date. The director has gotten top-notch, intense performances from actors like Hugh Jackman and Emily Blunt, so the thought of what Ferguson will bring to the movie is exciting, for sure. And whether she’s tracking down an international terrorist as Ilsa Faust or belting out a tune in The Greatest Showman, the actress always brings her A game. Her ability to navigate all the layers of a multifaceted character has made her one to look out for, and it’s great to see her land a lead role in a wild sci-fi epic.
How the upcoming Dune remake actually turns out is really anybody’s guess. Many of our greatest filmmakers have tried and failed to successfully get a handle on the complex source material. But if there’s one modern director that can make it work, it’s surely Denis Villeneuve. And if he keeps filling out the expansive cast with some of the finest working actors, we could finally see the great Dune movie the world deserves.