Surprise! Anya Taylor-Joy Confirms ‘Dune: Part Two’ Role at London Premiere

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

As if the cast of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” couldn’t get any more star-studded, Anya Taylor-Joy has joined the ensemble.

In the days leading up to the film’s world premiere in London on Thursday, rumors began recirculating online that Taylor-Joy would play a role in the film led by Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya. Overnight, there was a flurry when fans noticed that Letterboxd featured “Dune: Part Two” among the list of films starring Taylor-Joy. The credit has since been removed, but screenshots continued to circulate.

More from Variety

Variety can confirm that it’s true: Taylor-Joy makes an appearance in “Dune,” playing a major character from the franchise that won’t be spoiled here. And to top it all off, the Emmy-nominated and SAG- and Golden Globe-winning actor made a shock appearance at the London premiere, posing on the sand duned red carpet in Leicester Square with her fashion-forward cast mates.

In an interview which streamed live on Warner Bros.’ TikTok, Taylor-Joy coyly confirmed her involvement. “This is a dream come true,” she said, when host Yinka Bokinni asked what it felt like to join the franchise. “The books are incredible, but with this cast and with Denis, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

The actor also offered a rave review for the film, describing it as “one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Genuinely, Denis has killed it.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: (L-R) Josh Brolin, Florence Pugh, Léa Seydoux, Rebecca Ferguson, Souheila Yacoub, Zendaya, Timothée Chalamet, Stellan Skarsgård, Austin Butler and Anya Taylor-Joy attend the World Premiere of "Dune: Part Two" in Leicester Square on February 15, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)
The cast of “Dune: Part Two” — (L to R) Josh Brolin, Florence Pugh, Léa Seydoux, Rebecca Ferguson, Souheila Yacoub, Zendaya, Timothée Chalamet, Stellan Skarsgård, Austin Butler and Anya Taylor-Joy — attend the world premiere in Leicester Square on February 15 in London, England.

Taylor-Joy’s surprise casting adds to the film’s stacked roster of stars, as Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Léa Seydoux, Souheila Yacoub and Christopher Walken join the franchise. Returning from the first installment are Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling and Javier Bardem.

As for Taylor-Joy, 2024 was already primed to be a big year considering her starring role in Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated action movie “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” which races into theaters on May 24. The film’s first trailer was unveiled at CCXP, Brazil’s biggest Comic-Con event, last fall. The clip sees “The Queens Gambit” and “The Menu” star shaving her head to take on the role of Imperator Furiosa – the fierce war captain that Charlize Theron played in the 2015 action film — and follows the character as she comes into her own after being taken away from the Green Place of Many Mothers and is immersed into a sinister world.

Back to “Dune.” The world premiere event did its best to take its stars (and lucky fans) back to Arrakis with a dune of sand to cross at the entrance to the red carpet (which, despite the best efforts of a staff member with a vacuum cleaner ended up covered in sand). At one point it threatened to rain which would have turned the carpet into mud, but fortunately the weather held.

“We are used to it, we have a bit of PTSD from that,” Villeneuve joked when Variety asked if he’d gotten sand in his shoes. “The past six years we find sand constantly [everywhere].”

That’s the price the filmmaker is willing to pay to adapt Frank Herbert’s seminal text, especially right now.

“The book became more and more relevant about specific topics — for instance the blend of politics and religion or the impact of the collapse of the ecosystems on humans,” Villeneuve explained. “Things that as a kid I felt were very interesting but today it’s actually important to talk about that.”

Fans lined up hours in advance of the screening in hopes to get a photo or autograph from their favorite stars. Unsurprisingly, Chalamet and Zendaya got the biggest screams from the waiting crowd. Zendaya — who earlier in the day was announced as one of the co-chairs for the 2024 Met Gala — stunned in two Mugler looks. First, she strutted onto the red carpet in the silver robot from the Mugler archive (FW 1995-1996) before changing into a contemporary piece from the fashion house.

Fans were also excited to see franchise newcomers Pugh (accompanied by her grandmother Granny Pat) and Butler, as well as Greta Gerwig — who helmed last year’s big blockbuster for WB, the Oscar-nominated “Barbie” and memorably directed Chalamet in “Lady Bird” and “Little Women.”

When Ferguson — who’d taken a break from filming “Silo” Season 2 — made her way down the row of reporters on the carpet, she admitted the hubbub around unveiling the film makes her nervous.

“Because I want people to like it,” Ferguson said, gesturing at the fans around her. “If they don’t, that’s OK. My anxiety lies in my work, that my director likes it. And that we get to the end of the day. Every day, we get to the end of the day where he goes ‘I’m happy.’ Other than that it’s just life.“ She continued: “Here we have something so epic, something so many people are loving, and I’m just on this ride.”

Ferguson had no need to be nervous. When the credits started rolling on the London screening, film journalists began showering the sequel with praise on social media. The sequel was described as “masterful,” “damn impressive” and a “triumph,” with its battle scenes equated to Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”

The first “Dune” movie was an instant hit, earning just over $400 million at the worldwide box office (particularly impressive given its simultaneous streaming release on Max) and winning six Academy Awards (out of 10 nominations), so the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the sequel is welcome news for everyone involved.

On the carpet, Skarsgård also reflected on his experience with the franchise, telling Variety, “You can never guess how successful it will be because timing and what happens in the world, there’s so many variables that play in. But I knew that it will be a good film and [Denis] could do it.”

And based on those euphoric reactions, it certainly seems Villeneuve has done it again. “Dune: Part Two” hits theaters on March 1.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Anya Taylor-Joy attends the World Premiere of "Dune: Part Two" in Leicester Square on February 15, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Anya Taylor-Joy attends the world premiere of “Dune: Part Two” in Leicester Square on February 15, 2024 in London, England.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.