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Dune: The Sisterhood Casts Chernobyl’s Emily Watson, Harry Potter’s Shirley Henderson as Leads: Report

Dune: The Sisterhood has reportedly cast Emily Watson and Shirley Henderson as the two leads in the upcoming HBO Max series that serves as a prequel to the Oscar-winning movie. As per Variety, the pair will portray Valya Harkonnen and Tula Harkonnen respectively, the sisters who rose to power in a titular secret organisation, the Sisterhood. Years from then, it will grow into the more commonly known, fabled sect, the Bene Gesserit. Dune director Denis Villeneuve was attached to direct the pilot at one point, though now, he has sidelined himself as executive producer alongside Jon Spaihts, who co-wrote the 2021 film.

Based on the 2012 sci-fi novel Sisterhood of Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, the upcoming HBO Max series is set 10,000 before the events of Dune. As per the official logline, Dune: The Sisterhood follows the aforementioned Harkonnen sisters, as they get involved in an underground organisation called the Sisterhood of Rossak, who train their bodies and mind to obtain superhuman powers, in a quest to save the future of mankind. The group eventually evolves into the enigmatic Bene Gesserit that we know now.

Diane Ademu-John (The Haunting of Bly Manor) and Alison Schapker (Westworld) serve as co-showrunners and executive producers, with the former taking on additional duties as creator and head writer. Dune: The Sisterhood marks the second collaboration between lead Watson and filmmaker Johan Renck, who is attached to direct the first two episodes. The pair previously worked on the critically-acclaimed HBO miniseries, Chernobyl — streaming on Disney+ Hotstar. Meanwhile, fantasy fans will be able to recognise Henderson as Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter films.

“The Bene Gesserit have always been fascinating to me,” Villeneuve said in a prepared statement in 2019, when the show was just greenlit at HBO Max. “Focusing a series around that powerful order of women seemed not only relevant and inspiring but a dynamic setting for the television series.” Both Villeneuve and Spaihts had to eventually drop out from directing and writing roles, in order to focus on the mainline film, set in the same universe. Upon release, Dune grossed $401.8 million (about Rs. 3,276 crore) at the global box office, and bagged six Academy Awards.

A film sequel is currently in production, aiming for a November 2023 release window. Dune: Part Two was officially greenlit on October 26 last year, merely four days after the global release of Part One.

Dune: The Sisterhood currently does not have a tentative release date.

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