Anticipation is the mind-killer! The epic conclusion of Dune is coming on November 3, 2023, when Dune: Part Two hits theaters. And thanks to the first big trailer for the movie, we finally have a glimpse of just how Denis Villeneuve’s epic, will complete the story of the first Dune novel. In addition to that sandworm and some timeline questions, the biggest news here is easily the three, very prominent new characters, making their first appearances in Dune: Part Two.
We’re talking about Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), Lady Margot (Léa Seydoux), and Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler). Here’s who each of these characters is within the context of Dune, and how each character will shake up the movie version, Dune: Part Two. Mild book spoilers ahead.
Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan
Sometimes viewed as a quasi-narrator of the first Dune novel, Princess Irulan is the eventual legal wife of Paul Atreides after he takes over the entire universe at the end of the first book. In the novel, her future-tense status is hinted at throughout the book simply because her epigraphs about the future history of Muad'Dib frame several chapters. In 2021’s Dune: Part One, Irulan does not appear, though Paul does mention that the Emperor “has daughters” when he indicates to Liet-Kynes that he has bigger plans than just taking back Arrakis.
In the new trailer, much of the narrative focus is presented by Irulan, which, again, is in keeping with the loose narrative frame of the first novel. In fact, we even get to see Irulan recording her thoughts about the story of Paul Atreides, which, in the distant future, will be her legacy.
Of all the characters in Dune, Irulan is the only one who is truly a successful writer and historian. Without her, the story simply doesn't exist, at least not the way we think about it and read it.
After the first book, and in the larger Dune saga, Irulan is, in some ways, more pivotal than she might seem at first. By Children of Dune, her power and place in the ruling of the galaxy extend far beyond the story of Paul Atriedes. No book spoilers here, but let’s just say, that if there’s a new movie or TV adaptation of the second and third Dune novels — Dune Messiah and Children of Dune — then Florence Pugh would have plenty to do!
Léa Seydoux as Lady Margot
In the trailer for Dune: Part Two, the role of Lady Margot already seems bigger than it was in the novel. Denis Villeneuve has described her as a “secret agent,” and that’s because, in the book, Lady Margot is a Bene Gesserit with a secret mission. Technically, that mission is to get pregnant by Feyd, and thus create a possible backup super-baby. In Frank Herbert’s books, this plotline never really goes anywhere, and mostly just serves to demonstrate how many schemes are happening outside of the action on Arrakis. In the new trailer, we see Margot getting quite close with Feyd, so it’s possible what happens in the book, might happen in the movie.
Léa Seydoux is the first person to play the character of Lady Margot since no other adaptation has ever included her. In the book, Margot is married to Count Fenring, another scheming politician, who is nominally aligned with Emperor Shaddam IV. But, right now, some fans are theorizing that the role of Count Fenring might be eliminated entirely. This would mean Tim Blake Nelson’s role (which is not revealed in the trailer) would be someone other than Count Fenring. Which, if true, would mean Lady Margot’s role would be even bigger in the absence of her stuttering husband.
Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha
The biggest reveal of the Dune: Part Two trailer is possibly our first look at Paul’s ultimate nemesis, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. He’s the nephew of Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), and like that character, and his brother, Glossu Rabban (Dave Bautista), he’s bald. Previous Dune movies have made all the Harkonnens redheads. Now they’re all bald.
The trailer doesn’t give us much of Feyd as a character per se, but instead, more of the idea of him. We know he’s a brutal and sadistic fighter, which we see hinted at several times in the trailer. The final knife fight between him and Paul Atreides (which ends the first book) is all part of a tradition called “Kanly,” in which two houses are formally at war with each other; in this case, House Atreides and House Harkonnen. Basically, Paul and Feyd have to fight to the death for the story to actually end.
In the trailer, the most striking thing about Butler’s take on Feyd is the fact that he’s seen in black-and-white several times. Tellingly, so is Lady Margot at one point. Could this be a flashback to the first time we see Feyd in the novel? Roughly two years pass in the final third of Dune, and so, it seems very likely that the passage of time will have to be addressed, one way or another. So fans think the black-and-white styling of these scenes is all connected to the unique atmosphere of the Harkonnen homeworld, Giedi Prime — potentially showing the world through an infrared lens.
Denis Villeneuve has compared this version of Feyd to “Mick Jagger” which is telling because Jagger was the first actor considered to play Feyd in the ill-fated 1970s Jodorowsky version of Dune. This isn’t to say the new Feyd will be unfaithful to the book. But it does sound like he’ll be as intense as he looks.
In any case, whether he’s in flashback, in black and white, in full color, or wielding a knife with moves like Jagger, Austin Butler’s Feyd might top the memorable performance of Sting in the 1984 David Lynch version of Dune. With every breath he takes, we’ll be watching him.