HBO Max's Dune Series Is Happening, And Its First Stars Include A Harry Potter Vet

Shirley Henderson in Stan & Ollie and Emily Watson in Chernobyl
(Image credit: Sony Pictures Classics/HBO)

2021 was a good year for Dune fans, as Denis Villeneuve’s film adaptation of the first half of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel was finally released in theaters and to HBO Max subscribers. After scoring critical acclaim and performing solidly at the box office, Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary gave Villeneuve the green light to adapt the second half of the original novel with Dune: Part Two. Additionally, this take on the Dune mythology has Dune: The Sisterhood coming up, and the first stars for the HBO Max show have been announced, one of whom is a familiar face to Harry Potter fans.

Emily Watson and Shirley Henderson have been cast as the leads of Dune: The Sisterhood, which is set 10,000 years before the events of Dune and is based on the novel Sisterhood of Dune, which was written by Brian Herbert (Frank Herbert’s son) and Kevin J. Anderson. Per the official longline provided to Variety, the show “follows the Harkonnen Sisters as they combat forces that threaten the future of humankind, and establish the fabled sect known as the Bene Gesserit.” Watson will play Valya Harkonnen and Henderson will play Tula Harkonnen, with the two of them being jointly described as having “risen to power in the Sisterhood, a secret organization of women who will go on to become the Bene Gesserit.”

Harry Potter fans will recognize Shirley Henderson for playing Moaning Myrtle in the The Chamber of Secrets and The Goblet of Fire, and her other notable credits include Trainspotting, the Bridget Jones movies, Anna Karenina, See How They Run and voicing Babu Erik in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Turning to Emily Watson, she’s well known for movies like Gosford Park, War Horse, The Theory of Everything and Kingsman: The Golden Circle, as well as TV shows like Genius (the first season) and Chernobyl. Through Henderson’s Tula and Watson’s Valya, Now these two actresses are getting to leave their mark on the Dune franchise through Dune: The Sisterhood, though it remains to be seen when the show will premiere.

For those unfamiliar with Dune or need a refresher, the Bene Gesserit are an order of women who go through extreme physical and mental conditioning to obtain powers that look like magic to outsiders. The order’s ultimate goal is to push humanity towards enlightenment, and while they may act as though they’re loyal to certain groups or individuals, it’s all part of calculated plans to enact their own agendas. In the Dune movie, Rebecca Ferguson’s Lady Jessica and Charlotte Rampling’s Reverend Mother Mohiam were the two most prominent Bene Gesserit members shown, so if you’re interested in how this order came to be, you’ll want to follow along with Valya and Tula’s journey in Dune: The Sisterhood. Unfortunately, we know their family is destined for darkness, as seen by the actions of Stellan Skarsgård’s Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in Dune millennia later.

Dune: The Sisterhood creator Diane Ademu-John is executive producing and co-showrunning the project with Alison Schapker. Johan Renck, who worked with Emily Watson on Chernobyl, is directing the first episode, and Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, Scott Z. Burns, Matthew King, John Cameron, Cait Collins, Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert are all executive producing. With Dune: The Sisterhood’s two leads being cast, hopefully that means there’s a production start date in mind.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on how Dune: The Sisterhood is coming along. Dune: Part Two is slotted among the 2023 movie releases for November 17, 2023.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.