August 18, 2022

Denis Villeneuve is gearing up to begin production on Dune: Part Two this summer, and rumors are swirling about a major addition to the cast. Florence Pugh is currently in talks to play Princess Irulan Corrino for the highly anticipated sci-fi adaptation. Not only would this casting continue Pugh’s rise to super stardom in the wake of Black Widow and Oppenheimer, but it would also bring a major character from the Dune universe to life. Irulan not only plays a major role in the Dune novel but its direct sequel Dune Messiah, a novel that Villeneuve has expressed interest in adapting.

Irulan serves as the de facto narrator of Dune, as each chapter begins with a piece of writing from the princess. Through these writings, it is revealed that Irulan’s father Shaddam IV — the leader of House Corrino and the Emperor of the Padishah — saw House Atreides as a threat to his rule and plotted to destroy its lineage with the help of Atreides’ bitter enemy House Harkonnen. The Harkonnens attack Atreides on the desert planet of Arrakis — supposedly killing them. However, a revolution led by the mysterious Muad’Dib and Arrakis’ native Fremen disrupts the production of spice and forces Shaddam to step down. These events look to shape the narrative of Dune: Part Two, and having Irulan as a narrator/focal point could serve as a wonderful contrast to the first film which used Fremen native Chani (Zendaya) as a narrator in her place.


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Timothee Chalamet in Dune
Image via Warner Bros.

It turns out that Muad’Dib is Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), and his ascension to power was manipulated by the Bene Gesserit — the mysterious sisterhood which holds control over all major events that happen in the universe. Irulan’s mother Anirul and Paul’s mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) were both members of the Gesserit, and Irulan reveals to have been trained in their ways. This could potentially be expanded upon in the planned Dune: The Sisterhood spinoff series being developed for HBO Max by Dune co-writer Jon Spaihts; if Dune: Part Two proves to be a success at the box office it’s more than likely that Warner Bros. (and their new owners Discovery) would want to continue exploring that world, especially with other films like The Suicide Squad and The Batman receiving spinoffs in the form of Peacemaker and The Penguin, respectively.

In fact, Irulan’s story could continue if Villeneuve gets his wish and is able to film an adaptation of Dune Messiah. During the press tour for Dune: Part One, he expressed his desire to tell the full story of Paul Atreides in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: “I always envisioned three movies…It’s not that I want to do a franchise, but this is Dune, and Dune is a huge story. In order to honor it, I think you would need at least three movies. That would be the dream. To follow Paul Atreides and his full arc would be nice.” Irulan also plays a major role in Dune Messiah, and an adaptation would be a perfect showcase for Pugh’s talents if she ends up taking the role.

Image via Warner Bros.

Paul’s arc includes his marriage to Irulan, but it’s a marriage in name only, as Chani is his true love. The Gesserit, intent on keeping their influence intact by any means necessary, pressure Irulan to bear his children and cement the legacy of House Corrino. Irulan ends up slipping drugs into the Fremen women’s food, which results in Chani becoming unable to bear children. This eventually brings Chani and Irulan into conflict, and Irulan even ends up becoming part of a conspiracy to dethrone Paul. The political intrigue and romantic entanglement that Irulen brings to the table is a large part of what’s made Dune a fixture in the halls of science fiction, and it’s no surprise that Villeneuve would want Pugh to take up the role.

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