Today brings us the first casting announcements for the upcoming Dune prequel TV series, co-produced by HBO Max and Legendary Television. Deadline reports that Emily Watson and Shirley Henderson will lead the cast of Dune: The Sisterhood, portraying Valya Harkonnen and Tula Harkonnen respectively. The characters are described as “the formidable Harkonnen Sisters, who have risen to power in the Sisterhood, a secret organization of women who will go on to become the Bene Gesserit.”
Dune: The Sisterhood takes places 10 thousand years prior to the events of Frank Herbert’s original Dune novel and its currently ongoing two-part movie adaptation—the second of which is scheduled to premiere in November 2023. Based on below synopsis, from an earlier press release, this upcoming TV series tells the Bene Gesserit origin story.
Set 10,000 years before the ascension of Paul Atreides, Dune: The Sisterhood follows the Harkonnen Sisters as they combat forces that threaten the future of humankind, and establish the fabled sect known as the Bene Gesserit.
If you’ve read Sisterhood of Dune, a prequel novel published in 2012, above premise and characters may sound familiar. Indeed, this week Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson—co-authors of 16 books set in the Dune universe—posted on Twitter that the TV series is adapted from their book. It remains to be seen whether this will be a direct adaptation or a re-imagining.
Production timelines have not been widely communicated, however previous rumors alleged that the TV series will be filmed in Ireland and that crew members were expected to start assembling at Troy Studios as early as this past September. Production Weekly has since confirmed that Dune: The Sisterhood will in fact be produced in Ireland, as well as in Hungary—both of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune movies were also shot at the latter location.
As announced in 2021, Diane Ademu-John is writing, showrunning and executive producing Dune: The Sisterhood. This latest report from Deadline also lists Alison Schapker—known for her work on Lost and Westworld—as co-showrunner and executive producer. The first two episodes will be directed by Johan Renck, who will also serve as executive producer.
Emily Watson’s extensive list of acting credits include Chernobyl, HBO mini-series directed by Renck, and she most recently starred in the drama feature God’s Creatures. Shirley Henderson made appearances in two of the Harry Potter films and will lead in the upcoming dark comedy The Trouble with Jessica.
The two actresses will be joined in Dune: The Sisterhood by a predominantly-female ensemble, playing the roles of their fellow Bene Gesserit and other key figures of a post-Butlerian Jihad setting. Casting was reported to still be underway as recently as late-August. Stay tuned for more announcements in the near future.