The Dune trailer is here! And if you’re not familiar with Frank Herbert’s epic novel of the same name, you might be a little lost. The trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation features an array of characters played by big name actors like Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, and Zendaya. And though you can infer certain relationships based on interactions and scenarios, it might be difficult to parse out who’s who in this vast science-fiction world.
Obviously, some things are best left to discover on the big screen. But if you’re looking for a cheat sheet for the characters of Dune, who they are, who’s playing them, and vital but non-spoilery information about how they play into the story, look no further!
Fans of Herbert’s novel will notice that we left out some major names from the story. That’s because Villeneuve’s film doesn’t cover the entirety of the first book in the Dune series. To keep things as simple as possible, we’re only including main characters who figure into the first film’s action.
With that in mind, here’s a glossary of every main character in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune.
Paul is the central character in Dune, a boy born on the oceanic planet Caladan to Duke Leto I and his concubine Lady Jessica. The heir of House Atreides, he was meant to be a girl–but his mother betrayed the Bene Gesserit breeding system and produced a son for Leto instead. Because of this, Paul is a bit of an enigma. He is trained in both the Bene Gesserit and Mentat ways, meaning he’s powerfully astute with enhanced observation and skills in the martial arts. As we see in the trailer, he also has the gift of foresight; his dreams literally come true.
When his family moves from Caladan to Arrakis–where they are assigned to oversee the production of spice melange, a precious material only produced on the remote desert planet–his fate is sealed forever. It’s on Arrakis that Paul is faced with his greatest challenges yet; feats of destiny, free will, love, and honor.
Played by: Timothée Chalamet
Leto I Atreides
At the beginning of Dune, Paul’s father Duke Leto Atreides is assigned to rule Arrakis, displacing the tyrannical House Harkonnen–the longtime enemy of House Atreides. Straight away, Leto suspects something is not quite right with this assignment, but as an honorable man, proceeds anyway, moving his family from Caladan to Arrakis. As with his son, Leto’s fate is tied intrinsically to the desert location.
Played by: Oscar Issac
Gurney Halleck is a member of House Atreides and weapons teacher to Paul. He is a close companion and chief officer of Duke Leto’s, and serves alongside Duncan Idaho as a Swordmaster of the household. The ruthless, noble warrior is fiercely loyal, and accompanies House Atreides on their move from Caladan to Arrakis. In addition to his skills as a fighter, he’s also a talented musician, known for playing a stringed instrument known as a baliset.
Played by: Josh Brolin
Duke Leto’s “concubine” (or non-married consort to the ruling member of a Great House), Lady Jessica was raised by the Bene Gesserit from birth and trained in their witchy ways. She was always intended to breed with Leto but was meant to birth their daughter. However, she fell deeply in love with him and bore him a male heir instead, an act that disrupted the Bene Gesserit breeding system and produced their unique son Paul. Because of his love for Jessica, Leto never married, and the two migrated together to Arrakis when House Atreides was assigned there.
Played by: Rebecca Ferguson
Gaius Helen Mohiam
A Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother, Gaius Helen Mohiam trained Lady Jessica in the female order’s ancient and powerful ways. When Jessica went against orders and produced a male heir for Leto, the Reverend Mother took a particular interest in the boy. As we see in the trailer, she administered the famed gom jabbar test for Paul, to discover if he was “truly human.”
Played by: Charlotte Rampling
Dr. Wellington Yueh
Dr. Yueh is a Suk doctor and personal physician of Duke Leto I. Like all Suk, he wears his long hair caught in a silver ring at his left shoulder and has a black Imperial Conditioning diamond tattooed on his forehead. He is married to a Bene Gesserit woman named Wanna Marcus. His role in Dune is both mysterious and duplicitous.
Played by: Chen Chang
The older man is a Mentat and Master of Assassins for House Atreides, a role he’s had for three generations. As a Mentat–or, a person who trains their mind so astutely that they’re convincing replacements for computers–he is responsible for protecting the Atreides family from attacks and enemies. He also trains Paul in the arts of war including military strategy.
Played by: Stephen McKinley Henderson
Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures
Duncan Idaho is a Swordmaster in service of House Atreides and a right-hand man of Duke Leto. He travels to Arrakis ahead of the family’s arrival and later becomes an ambassador of the Fremen, a group of people who’ve inhabited the planet for thousands of years. He’s deeply loyal to House Atreides, is a skilled pilot, and a gifted hand-to-hand fighter. Momoa has referred to the characters as “ Han Solo-esque.”
Played by: Jason Momoa
Liet Kynes is a planetary ecologist on the planet Arrakis who acts as an arbiter of succession when House Atreides is put in charge of the fief. As Duke Leto quickly observes, she also has ties to the Fremen people. In the book, Liet Kynes is a man, but the role was gender-bent for Villeneuve’s movie.
Played by: Sharon Duncan-Brewster
Before his arrival on Arrakis, Paul dreams of a young woman on the desert planet– a woman named Chani who, as seen in the trailer, he later encounters in person. Chani is a member of the Fremen, a skilled fighter, and a love interest to Paul.
Played by: Zendaya
Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures
Stilgar is the leader of Sietch Tabr, a Fremen tribe on Arrakis. He befriends Duncan Idaho, who bases his positive view of the Fremen people on his loyalty with the man.
Played by: Javier Bardem
The main antagonist of Dune is a monstrous, hedonistic, revenge-bent man named Vladimir Harkonnen. The baron is the head of House Harkonnen, the longstanding rivals of House Atreides. We get a quick glimpse of him in the trailer, along with the soldiers he leads to take back Arrakis from his enemies. To say too much more about Harkonnen would spoil much of the plot of Dune, but suffice it to say, this guy is very integral to everything that happens with the future of House Atreides.
Played by: Stellan Skarsgård
Glossu “Beast” Rabban Harkonnen
The nephew of Vladimir Harkonnen, this “Beastly” man inherited his family’s penchant for sadism and cruelty, but lacks their cunningness. He is a key part of Vladimir’s plot to overthrow House Atreides.
Played by: Dave Bautista
Piter De Vries
Piter De Vries is a Mentat in service of House Harkonnen. Unlike Hawat, he’s also a conniving sadist. Because of his computer-like brain, he knows that Baron Vladimir means to kill him, but keeps him around as long as he’s useful–which is why he keeps coming up with ways to make himself such. He is addicted to spice melange.
Played by: David Dastmalchian
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Featured Image: Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures
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