Rebecca Ferguson: What to Know About Her 'Dune' Character, Lady Jessica

Ferguson plays one of the most important characters in the story - especially in 'Dune: Part Two,' which premieres this weekend.

Paul Atreides is undeniably the main protagonist of Dune, but his mother Lady Jessica is probably a close second. There's a reason A-list actress Rebecca Ferguson was cast to play this vital role, and she has become even more of a household name in the time between Dune: Part One and Dune: Part Two. Here's a deep dive into her character as you prepare for the sequel, which premieres in theaters on Friday, March 1.

Ferguson plays "Lady Jessica of the Atreides," the concubine of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and mother of Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet). Her title is different from theirs because she is not Leto's wife and is not actually a noblewoman at all. The first movie alludes to Jessica's past a bit, though not as much as Frank Herbert's 1965 novel. Jessica was born to a Bene Gesserit mother and raised by the Bene Gesserit organization, rising to the rank of Reverend Mother. She was a vital part of the Bene Gesserit long-term plan, and was therefore given the most extensive educations they could provide.

(Photo: Warner Bros.)

In Dune: Part One, the strongest allusion to Jessica's part in the Bene Gesserit scheme came in the unforgettable scene where the Reverend Mother Gaius Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling) tested Paul's "humanity" by forcing him to experience simulated torture. Afterward, she admonished Jessica for disobeying her orders and having a son rather than a daughter. She is also displeased that Jessica has taught Paul so many Bene Gesserit skills, including "the voice."

In the books, fans learn that Bene Gesserit are able to consciously control every aspect of their biology through intense meditative training, meaning that Jessica truly could have chosen whether to have a daughter or a son. The Bene Gesserit arranged for her to become Leto's concubine, instructing her to bear a daughter, but Jessica ended up falling in love with Leto. Knowing that Leto wanted a son, Jessica decided to make him happy in direct defiance of the Bene Gesserit.

This decision is finally catching up to Jessica and the rest of House Atreides in the storyline of Dune, and will continue to do so in Part Two. For now, fans who have seen the first movie should remember some of Jessica's unique powers – she is an expert fighter in the martial arts style known as "the weirding way," and a ruthless political agent with a keen eye for reconnaissance. her Bene Gesserit training also affords her near-superhuman senses, control over all of her biological functions at the cellular level, and most importantly: "the voice." This is the most prominent power that Jessica teaches to Paul in Part One, depicted in the movie with a multi-tonal growling sound. Many fans believe this was the inspiration behind the "Jedi Mind Trick" in George Lucas' Star Wars movies.

There is plenty more information about Jessica's past revealed in the books, and those details will be central to the plot Dune: Part Two. For now, fans can stream Dune: Part One on Max and catch Dune: Part Two in theaters starting on Friday, March 1. Herbert's books are available now in print, digital and audiobook formats.