Alia Atreides Will Be a Major Player in the Future of Dune

Alia Atreides Will Be a Major Player in the Future of Dune

preview for Denis Villeneuve on the Five Films That Inspired 'Dune: Part Two'

THE CAST OF Dune: Part Two includes returning stars like Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, and Stellan Skarsgård. But the dramatis personae expands even further in this second installment, with Florence Pugh, Austin Butler and Léa Seydoux taking on roles in Denis Villeneuve’s ambitious adaptation of Frank Herbert’s trippy sci-fi saga.

Most intriguing, though, is The Queen’s Gambit and Furiosa star Anya Taylor-Joy, who made a surprise appearance at the film’s premiere and was revealed to have a small part. And after much speculation, we now know who she is playing: Alia Atreides.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Who is Alia in Dune: Part Two?

Alia Atreides is the unborn younger sister of Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides. In the movie, as part of a ritual to become the Fremen’s new Reverend Mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) drinks something called the Water of Life—the highly toxic bile of a dead sandworm. The Water of Life awakens some of the dormant Bene Gesserit abilities within Jessica, including access to the memories of all the generations that came before her. However, unbeknownst to the Fremen, she does so while pregnant, and the ritual also imbues the fetus with full consciousness, and the ability to communicate psychically with her mother.

Later in the film, during a vision quest of his own, Paul has a premonition of a cloaked figure, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, who is shown to be a fully grown Alia. Taylor-Joy’s appearance is brief, and by the film’s end, her character has not yet been born—but if and when Dune: Part Three happens, we will undoubtedly see more of her.

anya taylor joy

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Who is Alia Atreides in the books?

Dune: Part Two only touches briefly on the significance of Alia’s role in Frank Herbert’s book series, as it is the second installment in a hugely streamlined adaptation of the first novel, focusing on the “chosen one” narrative of Paul and the Muad’Dib prophecy. In the book, we actually see Alia as a small child who has knowledge and power beyond her years, and who frequently commits acts of brutal violence, but Villeneuve sidestepped that plot point.

The second and third volumes, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune follow Alia’s adolescence and adulthood, where her ability to tap into the memories of previous generations sees her dubbed an “Abomination” by the Bene Gesserit. Alia eventually ascends to the seat of Regent on Arrakis, and becomes a guardian and mentor to Paul’s heirs… but her powers also threaten to push her to the brink of madness.

Whether or not we get to see Anya Taylor-Joy go full psychic despot remains in the hands of Warner Bros. and Denis Villeneuve. A third installment has yet to be greenlit, although a script definitely exists.

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Philip Ellis

Philip Ellis is News Editor at Men’s Health, covering fitness, pop culture, sex and relationships, and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV, and he is the author of Love & Other Scams.

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