Anya Taylor-Joy begged to get her small role in Dune: Part Two

Dune director Denis Villeneuve sounds certain that Furiosa star Anya Taylor-Joy will return as Alia in Part Three. "I can’t wait to go back on Arrakis with her."
"Dune: Part Two" World Premiere - Arrivals
"Dune: Part Two" World Premiere - Arrivals / Samir Hussein/GettyImages

Anya Taylor-Joy is one of the biggest rising stars in the industry. From her breakout role in The Witch to the phenomenon that was The Queen's Gambit to her upcoming turn as Imperator Furiosa in the Mad Max prequel Furiosa, she's everywhere, and there are no signs she's slowing down.

One of her highest profile recent roles was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it affair; she played Paul Atreides' younger sister Alia in Dune: Part Two. And when I say "younger," I mean in utero. In Frank Herbert's book Dune, Alia is born in the latter half of the book, but director Denis Villeneuve felt it would be too difficult for a child actor to perform Alia's scenes, so he opted for a stranger solution: Alia is conscious as a fetus, and talks to her mother Lady Jessica from within her womb. Taylor-Joy voices the super-fetus, and also appears in adult form to Paul very briefly, during a prescient vision.

With her striking features and otherworldly air, Taylor-Joy is good casting for the mysterious Alia. But it almost didn't happen, since she was filming Furiosa at the same time as Villeneuve was making Dune: Part Two. But she wanted the part badly, and finally got to meet with Villeneuve to talk about it. "Before I even sat down, he was like, 'I want you to be in 'Dune,' but you can't do it!'" Taylor-Joy recalled to Variety. "I was like, 'Please?' I skipped all the stages of grief and went straight to begging. I was like, 'I can do this. I can be in Australia and Abu Dhabi at the same time.' He wanted me to be part of the universe. We kept in touch. I just had this feeling that it wasn't over."

And it wasn't; Villeneuve made a deal with the studio whereunder he got a few extra days to shoot as a reward for finishing the film on budget and on time. So he and Taylor-Joy went to Namibia to film her incredibly brief appearance as adult Alia. "Anya was Alia as soon as I met with her," Villeneuve said. "In fact, I realized after the fact, she has always been Alia. Anya feels out of this world, as though she belongs to some other dimension, one step into the dream."

Taylor-Joy's part in the movie was kept under wraps from pretty much everyone, to the point where the world at large was shocked when she showed up on the red carpet. "I told my husband and my parents. [...] and I took my mum. [...] [N]o one at the studio knew. My face had been blurred out. [...]  I asked Denis to tell the cast beforehand. I said, 'I can't just show up. Please don't do that to me.'"

After the success of Dune: Part Two, Part Three seems pretty much like an inevitability. A third movie would adapt Herbert's book Dune Messiah, where Alia is older. Nothing is confirmed, but I wouldn't be surprised if we heard something soon. "I can’t wait to go back on Arrakis with her,” Villeneuve said.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga from Warner Bros. /

Despite starring in big car violence movie Furiosa, Anya Taylor-Joy doesn't have a driver's license

More immediately, Taylor-Joy will play a younger version of the character Charlize Theron played in 2015's Fury Road: Furiosa, a wasteland warrior taken from her homeland and roped into a battle between rival warlords, including the fearsome Dementus, played by Chris Hemsworth.

The long, grueling shoot involved early call times, lots of stuntwork, and layers of grimy makeup so Furiosa would read as dirty on camera. Furiosa doesn't talk much, so when she does, Taylor-Joy tried to adapt a raspy tone that matched Theron's from Fury Road. "When she opens her mouth, it’s rusty in there.” Then there was the physical training to survive in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. “I was doing weights, and they helped for sure....It was about being able to hold myself up, and to hold these weapons too. I have a slight frame, and these are heavy guns.”

This being a prequel to Fury Road, there will also be crazy car chases, which is funny considering Taylor-Joy doesn't have a driver's license. “I’m never in one place long enough to get one,” she explained. “I also feel like I probably need to learn how to parallel park. That’s something I don’t know how to do...I don’t think I allowed myself to think about crashing anything,”

Hemsworth wasn't aware he was filming vehicular combat scenes with an unlicensed driver at the time, but he laughed it off. “I think she automatically gets a license by default, doesn’t she?” he quipped before imaginging Taylor-Joy going into the DMV. “‘Here’s my driver’s test,’ she’d say, and hand them a ticket to ‘Furiosa!’ And then the instructor should be like, ‘Oh yeah. We get it. You can do it!'”

Furiosa comes out in theaters on May 24.

Next. Dune 2's iconic black-and-white sequence was almost removed by studio interference. Dune 2's iconic black-and-white sequence was almost removed by studio interference. dark

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