Nobody knows quite what to expect from Denis Villeneuve's Dune when it hits theaters in December. The Frank Herbert novel is one of the iconic creations in science fiction history, but there are those that have felt that the book is essentially unfilmable, and the difficulty had during the one previous big-screen attempt would seem to bear that out to at least some degree. There's so much going on in the novel that the director is going to have to make some significant choices about where to put the focus, and he says that one character that is very important to the new film is Rebecca Ferguson's Lady Jessica.
Lady Jessica is the concubine of Duke Leto Atreides, who will be played by Oscar Isaac, and the mother of Paul Atreides, who will be played by Timothee Chalamet. Lady Jessica spends much of the story alongside her son Paul, but while Paul is ultimately the story's main character, Denis Villeneuve tells Empire that it was important to him that Lady Jessica not simply be along for the ride, as she helps balance the book, and the director wanted her to do the same in the movie. According to Villeneuve...
I didn’t want Lady Jessica to be an expensive extra. Something I deeply love in the book is that there was a strong balance between the masculine power and feminine power.
Paul Atreides has two very powerful parents who come from two very different worlds, and both of them play their part to mold Paul into the person that he is when Dune begins. This in turn helps determine the steps that Paul takes after the events of Dune lead him down a path he never could have anticipated.
Lady Jessica is part of an order called the Bene Gesserit which has trained Lady Jessica to have abilities that appear almost like magic to those that don't know how to use them. Paul himself is suspected of having a unique role within the order, something quite special for a man in an order that is otherwise exclusively women.
Lady Jessica has an important role to play in Dune, but her role is just one part of a massive novel. Director Denis Villeneuve is trying to balance all the characters and storylines of the original book, in part, by breaking the book in half. The film set to debut in December will only cover approximately the first half of Dune, with plans to make a second film, assuming of course, that the first movie is successful.
Even by breaking the book in half, there will likely be parts of Frank Herbert's novel that either aren't dealt with at all or are given less consideration in order to make room for what the director feels is more important. It seems we can expect Lady Jessica to be one of the characters who will be given her proper reverence. We'll get our first real look when the first Dune trailer hits, which is expected to be sometime in the next week.