Dune character guide: who's who in the Denis Villeneuve movies from Paul Atreides to Princess Irulan

Dune: Part Two promises to be a truly sweeping science-fiction experience when it arrives in Cineworld cinemas this March. Director Denis Villeneuve resolves his staggering two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic novel, and with several new characters now set to make their debut, you may need a refresher course on who's who.

Expect an astonishing, screen-filling sci-fi spectacle, particularly when experienced in premium viewing formats including IMAX4DX and ScreenX. And if you don't know your Barons from your Irulans, then you've come to the right place: scroll down to read our guide to the expansive cast of characters in both Dune and Dune: Part Two, including some important new faces.

Also, be sure to check out our Dune glossary of terms for yet more important background details.


Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

Played by Stellan Skarsgard

The cunning and ruthless figurehead of House Harkonnen, the Baron is grotesquely fat and floats around with the aid of a 'suspensor'.

Dune author Frank Herbert partly modelled the character on the decadent corruption of Roman emperors, and the Baron is scheming with the Padishah Emperor to destroy House Atreides. This is because the Emperor fears the rising influence of Duke Leto Atreides. 

By vacating the planet of Arrakis, where they have been mining for spice and indulging in the profits, the Harkonnens are luring their mortal enemies the Atreides family into a trap. With the Atreides clan out of the way, the Harkonnens can enforce a steel grip on the vulnerable ecosystem of Arrakis and the valuable spice contained within.

Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Harkonnen in Dune: Part Two


Glossu 'Beast' Rabban Harkonnen

Played by Dave Bautista

The brutish nephew of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen terrorises the indigenous Arrakis Fremen while the Harkonnens are occupying the planet. When the House of Atreides is later granted stewardship of Arrakis, Beast Rabban is paired with the Emperor's fearsome elite troops, the Sardaukar, to lead an insurgent attack on Duke Leto and his family.

In Dune: Part Two the imposing yet relatively slow-witted Rabban is deliberately set against his cunning and quicksilver cousin, Feyd-Rautha.

Dave Bautista as Glossu 'Beast' Rabban in Dune: Part Two


Played by Zendaya

A member of the indigenous Fremen and the daughter of ecologist Liet-Kynes. Chani appears to young Paul Atreides in his dreams, which portends an era of great change and upheaval.

Dune: Part Two builds on the tentative relationship seen in Dune. Chani's presence appears to point Paul down a certain path yet although she captures his heart, there are political concessions to be made as the story reaches its conclusion.

Zendaya as Chani in Dune: Part Two


Duke Leto Atreides

Played by Oscar Isaac

Heavy lies the crown on the head of House Atreides, who is granted stewardship of the planet Arrakis. Duke Leto knows he and his family are being lured into a trap, being well aware of the Padishah Emperor's jealousy and suspicion.

Nevertheless, Leto is duty-bound and must uproot from his home planet of Caladan to Arrakis to begin spice harvesting. He aims to be different from the past colonisers of Arrakis, vowing to build a closer connection with the indigenous and oft-exploited Fremen.

However, the desert peoples are naturally suspicious of any outsiders, or 'off-worlders'. Duke Leto must balance his duty with his paternal love towards his son Paul, the heir-in-waiting whom Leto is schooling in the arts of political, mental and physical warfare.

Tragically, Duke Leto is betrayed and killed by his bitter rivals the Harkonnens before he can officially hand the reins of power to Paul. The latter vows to fight on in his father's name and take revenge against the Harkonnens.


Duncan Idaho

Played by Jason Momoa

The swordmaster of House Atreides and an important mentor to Paul Atreides. Duncan Idaho leads an advance party to Arrakis where he attempts to assimilate with the Fremen in one of their 'sietches' (native dwellings). He subsequently gains great respect for the Fremen and attempts to impart this to Paul and the rest of House Atreides.

In Dune, Duncan is killed in a fierce skirmish with the Sardaukar while he helps Paul and his mother Lady Jessica to escape. But is this truly the end of Duncan's journey in the Dune saga? To say any more would be a spoiler...


Emperor Shaddam IV

Played by Christopher Walken

The Emperor is the most powerful man in the universe and sits at the head of the Spacing Guild. Emperor Shaddam IV, unseen in the first Dune movie, belongs to the lineage of House Corrino and is a scheming, jealous man who fears the loss of his title.

It was the Emperor who condemned House Atreides by colluding with House Harkonnen. In Dune: Part Two, the Emperor starts to suspect that Duke Leto's one-time heir Paul Atreides is still alive, and fears his status as the new Fremen prophet and the 'kwisatz haderach'.



Played by Austin Butler

Feyd-Rautha is Baron Harkonnen's athletic, muscular and deeply dangerous nephew, trained in the art of gladiatorial warfare and utterly ruthless to anyone who stands in his way. Feyd is also blessed with a quicksilver mind and sense of cunning, and Baron Harkonnen suspects that he, rather than Glossu 'Beast' Rabban, will be better suited to becoming the head of House Harkonnen.

To that end, the Baron sets his two nephews against one another in a battle for supremacy. At the same time, Feyd is being used as a pawn by the Bene Gesserit in their quest to protect the sanctity of the 'kwisatz haderach' bloodline. Feyd eventually becomes the dreaded nemesis of Paul Atreides, and they eventually lock symbolic crysknives in a battle that will determine the fate of all those in the universe.

Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha in Dune: Part Two


Gurney Halleck

Played by Josh Brolin

Another important mentor to Paul Atreides who steps in as combat master when Duncan Idaho must leave early for Arrakis.

The strong-willed and wry-humoured Gurney is steadfast in teaching young Paul the arts of warfare, training via the use of a Holtzman shield, which throws up a blue forcefield and turns red when it's breached. Gurney is also a fan of proverbs and can often be heard throwing out maxims in unexpected situations.

In Dune, Gurney was suspected dead during the insurgent Harkonnen and Sardaukar attack on the stronghold of Arrakeen. However, during the events of Dune: Part Two he's revealed to be alive, having gone to ground with the Fremen. Gurney makes an emotional reunion with Paul, all the while harbouring suspicions about Lady Jessica and the exact nature of how House Atreides was betrayed.

Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck in Dune: Part Two


Lady Jessica

Played by Rebecca Ferguson

Duke Leto's concubine and the mother of Paul Atreides. Lady Jessica is a member of the Bene Gesserit, a secretive matriarchal religious order that holds important sway over the Guild of Navigators and the Emperor in their quest to exploit the Arrakis spice.

The Bene Gesserit harnesses the ability to communicate with an inner voice (casually known as the 'weirding way'), which they can use to compel people to their will.

More significantly, in bearing Duke Leto a son rather than a daughter, Lady Jessica has broken with the orthodox Bene Gesserit creed. She has been teaching Paul about the ways of the order, and his raw yet instinctive abilities appear to portend the arrival of the messiah known as the 'Kwisatz Haderach' ('shortening of the way') who will liberate the universe – albeit at great cost.

In Dune: Part Two, Lady Jessica and her son have been assimilated into the Fremen collective. She looks to ascend to the status of Reverend Mother and to do so, she must consume the Water of Life (bile from an Arrakis sandworm). The effect this has on Jessica, her unborn child and, eventually, Paul is profound.

Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica in Dune: Part Two


Lady Margot

Played by Lea Seydoux

Lady Margot is a secretive member of the Bene Gesserit and wife of the mentat Count Fenring. She's planted within House Harkonnen and tasked with seducing Feyd-Rautha.

Lea Seydoux as Lady Margot in Dune: Part Two



Played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster

 A Fremen tribesperson, mother of Chani and an ecologist who also acts as Judge of the Change on Arrakis, overseeing the transfer of spice harvesting from the Harkonnens to the Atreides family.

Liet-Kynes possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the Arrakis eco-system and the marauding sandworms, although given her dealings with the Harkonnens, she's naturally suspicious of Duke Leto Atreides and his promises. But after seeing his attitude towards the men on the spice harvesters, whom Leto seeks to save above the spice itself, Liet-Kynes starts to change her mind.

She sacrifices herself in Dune's second half, condemning herself and the vicious Sardaukar forces to a sandworm attack while Paul and Lady Jessica escape.


Paul Atreides

Played by Timotheé Chalamet

The protagonist of Dune, and a young man who finds himself at the centre of an inter-planetary crossroads.

Paul is an unassuming youth from Caladan who must learn to bear the mantle of his father, Duke Leto Atreides, while also being schooled in the arts of the Bene Gesserit order.

Upon his arrival in Arrakis, Paul realises that his dreams of the planet portend actual events in his future. The indigenous Fremen eventually see him as their 'Mahdi', or 'the one who will lead us to paradise'.

Although he does not realise it at first, as a male-born son of Bene Gesserit member Lady Jessica, Paul is set to emerge as the 'kwisatz haderach', the messiah whose arrival has been long-awaited by the Bene Gesserit order.

Paul's status as the so-called messiah can either liberate or condemn the known universe. Throughout the events of Dune: Part Two he is increasingly plagued by violent and shocking visions that allude to a future jihad being carried out in his name.

While tussling with his destiny Paul takes it upon himself to train the Fremen to fight back against the Harkonnens and destroy their spice harvesting operations. This eventually leads him into a life-or-death duel with Feyd-Rautha as the fate of all those in the universe hangs in the balance.

Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Dune: Part Two


Piter de Vries

Played by David Dastmalchian

The 'Mentat' (essentially a human computer) of House Harkonnen, Piter advises the Baron in his schemes. He is killed when the prone Duke Leto Atreides bites into a hidden cyanide capsule in a failed attempt to kill Baron Harkonnen.


Princess Irulan

Played by Florence Pugh

Princess Irulan is the daughter of Emperor Shaddam IV. In Frank Herbert's original book, she's established as the chronicler of Paul's ascendancy to the role of 'kwisatz haderach', and her retrospective observations are used as epigraphs at the start of each chapter.

In the trailer for Dune: Part Two we see Irulan recording her thoughts as she comes to suspect that Paul is still alive. Little does she know that her destiny will intertwine with that of Paul in ways that she cannot imagine, and this portends momentous things not just in Dune: Part Two but also in the next chapter, Dune: Messiah.

Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan in Dune: Part Two


Reverend Mother

Played by Charlotte Rampling

AKA Gaius Helen Mohiam, the fearsome Bene Gesserit member who possesses an advanced level of training and knowledge. She also holds the ear of the Padishah Emperor.

The Reverend Mother is aware of Lady Jessica's attempts to train Paul Atreides in the ways of the order, so the former puts him through the 'Gom Jabbar', essentially a litmus test to challenge his humanity and locate whether he is destined to become the 'kwisatz haderach'.

The Reverend Mother disapproves of Lady Jessica steering the Bene Gesserit bloodline towards males but must remain loyal to her as a member of the order, and these multifaceted allegiances become more significant as the story proceeds.

In Dune: Part Two, the Reverend Mother continues her scheming, continuing to work in the shadows alongside the Emperor and other members of her order to ensure the sanctity of the Bene Gesserit bloodline and the legitimacy of the 'kwisatz haderach'.



Played by Javier Bardem

Fremen leader Stilgar is located at Sietch Tabr on Arrakis. Stilgar has borne witness to much cruelty towards his people, and Duke Leto's promise of an accord doesn't sit easily with him.

For Stilgar and the rest of his people, the real currency of Arrakis is water, and the Fremen are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this precious resource, including the use of stillsuits that recycle the body's water supply.

When Paul and Lady Jessica find themselves stranded in the Arrakis desert following the Harkonnen betrayal. Stilgar reluctantly accepts them into the Fremen collective, but not before putting Paul through a test of manhood.

Stilgar is increasingly awed by Paul's status during the events of Dune: Part Two, particularly when the latter demonstrates his ability to mount and ride 'Shai-Hulud' (the Fremen name for the rampaging Arrakis sandworms).

Javier Bardem as Stilgar in Dune: Part Two


Thufir Hawat

Played by Stephen McKinley Henderson

The Mentat of House Atreides and a key ally to both Duke Leto and Paul. Thufiir is suspected dead in Dune after the Harkonnen attack on Arrakeen. However, he's still alive and has been captured by Baron Harkonnen to replace his deceased mentat Piter de Vries.

The wily Thufir starts to turn this situation to his advantage and uses his proximity to the Baron to influence the battle between House Harkonnen and House Atreides.



Played by Chang Chen

The physician of House Atreides whose actions play a key role in determining the fate of the royal household. Yueh betrays Duke Leto Atreides in exchange for liberating his wife from Baron Harkonnen's clutches. However, the Baron later reneges on the deal and kills Yueh in cold blood.

The consequences of Yueh's actions continue to resonate in Dune: Part Two with Gurney Halleck mistakenly suspecting Lady Jessica's hand in the Duke's betrayal.


Dune: Part Two is released at Cineworld on March 1st and you can book your tickets by clicking the link below.