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Anya Taylor-Joy is in Dune: Part Two... and her character is going to be very important to the future of the series

There are changes afoot to Dune canon when it comes to ATJ's character

Dune: Part Two
Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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The surprise appearance of Anya Taylor-Joy at the London premiere of Dune: Part Two thrilled fans, seemingly confirming long-lasting rumors that the Queen’s Gambit and Witch actor would appear in the movie… but as what character?

Officially, no-one is saying. Taylor-Joy’s involvement in the movie was kept entirely secret by Warner Bros. and director Denis Villenueve during production, with the first hint coming when Letterboxd accidentally added (and then deleted, at great speed) Dune: Part Two to Taylor-Joy’s filmography in early February… and then she showed up at the premiere along with the rest of the cast, dodging the question of who she was in the movie.

Villeneuve has addressed the secrecy surrounding her appearance, explaining, “I think that Hollywood is the most gossipy town on earth and I wanted, as an experiment, to see how long we could keep a secret.” Her appearance in the movie was filmed separately from the primary shoot, with the director saying, “I just loved the idea to keep something a surprise for the audience until the very end; it was like a gift I wanted to keep for the fans.”

That’s all well and good (and, honestly, quite charming). But with the feature in theaters internationally, it feels fair game to say who the actor is playing, finally — and why it matters to the future of the Dune movie series. Spoilers for anyone going beyond this point, so be warned.

Anya Taylor-Joy is Alia Atreides.

For those unfamiliar with the source material, but familiar with the Villeneuve’s first Dune movie, that name might raise a few eyebrows. Yes, she’s related to Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), but not in the way you’d expect: she’s Paul’s as-yet-unborn sister, conceived prior to the death of his father but not born until after the events of… well, the majority of the first Dune book (or the two movies, if you’d prefer), for all intents and purposes. If Paul is special, however, Alia leaves him in the dust: as the result of her mother taking the Water of Life while pregnant, Alia is self-aware before she was born, and as such grows up to be hyper-intelligent… and a central figure to the Dune saga moving forward.

Taylor-Joy only makes two brief appearances in Dune: Part Two, which seems fitting given that her character isn’t technically alive during the time the movie takes place; she can be seen in a future vision that Paul has at one point in the movie, and she can be heard telepathically talking to her mother at the very end of the movie.

Curiously enough, while Alia is canonical in the Dune novels — in fact, she’s arguably one of the most important characters in the series thanks to her role in both Dune Messiah and Children of Dune — Dune: Part Two does change the story in two notable ways. Firstly, Paul and Jessica’s stay with the Fremen is significantly shortened in terms of time (from roughly two years to essentially nine months), meaning that Alia is not born before the climactic events of the story… which, obviously, removes Alia from that climax in the movie. In Frank Herbert’s original Dune, Alia plays a very important role in the climax of the story, and in the movie, that role — yes, I’m keeping some things under wraps despite the spoiler warning — falls to Paul.

What will this mean for the saga moving forward? All of that is unclear, although we can assume whatever happens will include a lot more Anya Taylor-Joy. For now, there’s still Dune: Part Two to enjoy. Buy tickets on Fandango or Atom Tickets.


Need more spice (heh) in your life? Popverse has all the Dune coverage you could want. From Dune: Part Two's ending explained, to details on the sequels and TV show prequels that are planned, to how to prep for the next film with a Dune watch order, to which Frank Herbert story Denis Villeneuve believes would make a great Dune: Part Three, and even which movies to watch after you've finished Dune.

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Graeme McMillan

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Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.
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