Dune Character Guide: Who's Who In Denis Villeneuve's Sci-Fi Epic

Denis Villenueve's "Dune" is premiering in a few short days. Those already familiar with the eponymous book by Frank Herbert are eagerly awaiting to see Villeneuve's on-screen adaptation.

Those who know nothing about Frank Herbert's "Dune," however, might be a bit overwhelmed by all the characters in the story. This article is for those people (or for "Dune" readers who want a refresher). Read on to get the run down on who the major characters are in "Dune," and how they're connected to each other.

We'll start with the members of House Atreides.

Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Issac)

Just like in "Game of Thrones," "Dune" is full of major Houses that rule over different territories or planets. Duke Leto Atreides is the head of one such House. At the beginning of the film, he rules the planet of Caladan and lives there with his love, the Lady Jessica, and their son, Paul.

What House rules what planet is determined by the Imperium. At the beginning of the book and movie, the Imperium tells Duke Leto that his House is leaving Caladan to take over ruling Arrakis (AKA Dune), a sand planet full of a valuable material called "spice." Before House Atreides moved in, the brutal House Harkonnen controlled Arrakis. 

Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson)

As mentioned above, the Lady Jessica is the one and only love of Duke Leto. The two love each other dearly, and have a son, Paul, though they never married. Lady Jessica is also a member of the Bene Gesserit, a powerful female-only organization that subtly but deftly exerts control across the Imperium, in part through genetic manipulation by making sure certain people breed to create and control the eventual Kwisatz Haderach, a male who has the ability to see into the future.

Bene Gesserit members also go through rigorous training, which gives them almost supernatural-like abilities to control others with the inflection of their voice, among other things.

Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet)

That brings us to Paul, the son of Duke Leto and Lady Jessica. Lady Jessica, a Bene Gesserit, was part of the aforementioned breeding program. She went against her orders, however, and conceived a male child with Leto instead of a female child. This threw off the Bene Gesserit's plans, but also raised the possibility that Paul might be the Kwisatz Haderach (AKA, the Chosen One).

As the son of Lady Jessica, Paul also received some Bene Gesserit training as he grew up, something that Jessica was not supposed to teach a male offspring. As the heir to House Atreides, Paul was also trained to fight and eventually lead the House for whenever his dad, Duke Leto, passes away.

Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa)

Duncan Idaho is a swordmaster who serves House Atreides. He is also one of Paul's teachers. In "Dune," he goes to Arrakis early to get to know the Fremen, the local people there, before House Atreides arrives in force. In Villeneuve's "Dune," Duncan also loses his beard as the movie goes on, which gives you a taste of what a beardless Jason Momoa looks like.

Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin)

Gurney Halleck is the Warmaster for House Atreides. He is very close to Duke Leto and trains Paul in the art of warfare, among other things. Gurney is also known for singing a good tune while playing his baliset. While Villenueve shot Gurney (AKA Josh Brolin) playing the baliset, the scene sadly never made it into the movie.

Thufir Hawat (Stephen McKinley Henderson)

Another right-hand man to Duke Leto besides Gurney and Duncan is Thufir Hawat. Thufir is a mentat, an individual who is basically a human computer capable of doing immense calculations in his head. He has served House Atreides for three generations and is in charge of security. He's also the Master of Assassins for the House and teaches Paul about political and military strategy. It is Thufir who is responsible for overseeing the family's security when they move to Arrakis.

Dr. Wellington Yueh (Chen Chang)

Dr. Yueh also serves House Atreides and is the personal physician of Duke Leto, Lady Jessica, and Paul. He is a Suk doctor, which means his training makes him incapable of inflicting harm. He is married to a Bene Gesserit named Wanna, and is one of the many who travel to Arrakis when House Atreides takes over governing the planet.

Reverend Mother Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling)

Speaking of the Bene Gesserit, we also meet the Reverend Mother Mohiam in Villeneuve's "Dune." Mother Mohiam is a leader within the secret-but-powerful female-led organization, and taught Lady Jessica before she went to House Atreides. If you've seen the first trailer for "Dune," she is the older woman holding Paul's hand in the pain box. She shows up at other moments in "Dune" as well, including in conversation with Baron Vladmir Harkonnen — the leader of House Harkonnen and the enemy of House Atreides.

Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård)

Have you seen that blob in the trailers that looks like a cross between Slimer from "Ghostbusters" and an unmasked Darth Vader? That's Baron Harkonnen, the leader of the wicked House Harkonnen. The Harkonnens were on Arrakis before the Empire kicked them out and installed House Atreides there. They are none too happy about that, because their rule on Arrakis meant they had a monopoly on the valuable resource, spice, a material that makes interstellar travel possible and a material that makes people's eyes turn blue if they're around it for too long.

Piter de Vries (David Dastmalchian)

Baron Harkonnen's right-hand-man is Piter de Vries. He is a twisted mentat, and has abilities similar to Thufir Hawat. He provides the Baron strategic insights on the ramifications of his political plotting, and also helps the Baron carry out some covert operations.

Beast Rabban Harkonnen (Dave Bautista)

Beast is the older nephew to the Baron and was the one in charge of the day-to-day exploitation of Arrakis. Beast, as his name implies, is a brutal enforcer of Harkonnen rule and is not known to be the smartest Harkonnen out there.

Dr. Liet Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster)

Liet Kynes is the planetary ecologist of Arrakis and thus under the employ of the Empire. She's been on the planet so long, however, that she has the blue-hued eyes that the Fremen also have because of long-term exposure to the spice. She is one of the people who gets Duke Leto and the rest of his entourage up to speed on Arrakis. She also has strong ties to the Fremen.

Stilgar (Javier Bardem)

Speaking of Fremen, Stilgar is one of their leaders that Duncan Idaho established a relationship with in his early reconnaissance on Arakkis. In the movie, we first meet him when he meets Duke Leto. Like most Fremen, Stilgar views all the Houses as invaders on their land. Fremen are a desert people who worship the large sandworms as gods. They are also fierce fighters and have a rich culture and civilization that the Harkonnens knew nothing about and that Duke Leto wants to learn about in order to make them allies.

Chani (Zendaya)

Chani is another Fremen. Paul has dreams and visions of her before he even travels to Arrakis but we know little about her beyond that.

Jamis (Babs Olusanmokun)

Jamis is another Fremen that plays a pivotal role in Paul's life. To say more would be too spoilery, so go watch "Dune," when you can, and get more details!