Rebecca Ferguson Is the Real Star of ‘Dune’

Photograph: Nadav Kander

Rebecca Ferguson is tucked right into a nook at an institutional chain restaurant within the chichi London suburb of Richmond (it has its personal palace and a park with wild deer). The actress has a knack for enjoying steely, stoic ladies, however in individual, she is disarmingly humorous. After we obtain our meals, she leans into my recorder to explain lunch as if she had been internet hosting a cooking present. “A wonderful butternut squash, dressed with one thing that appears prefer it needs to be scraped into the bin,” she says, cackling. “Individuals have stated I’ve a regal air.”

In Dune, Ferguson, 38, performs Woman Jessica, a concubine and member of the Bene Gesserit, a sect of girls who, by way of psychological conditioning, have the super-human capability to control others and affect humanity for their very own profit. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the film has an all-star solid, with Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Stellan Skarsgård, however in some ways, it’s Ferguson’s film. As a part of the Bene Gesserit, Jessica was speculated to start a daughter who will turn out to be a super-being (she is an integral a part of the sect’s breeding program). As an alternative, she disobeyed them and have become mom to the mild and heroic Paul Atreides (Chalamet), whom she pushes to emotional and bodily extremes, subjecting him to a take a look at that causes blinding ache and coaching him to make use of “the Voice,” a kind of thoughts management he resists studying at first. The movie hinges on their mother-son relationship, and Ferguson balances her character’s maternal anxieties and soldierlike toughness with ease.

Ferguson, dry-humored and assured, speaks at lightening pace, and has a mirthful means of ending sentences. Her hair is pulled tightly again and she or he’s carrying minimal make-up. Over monkfish curry, we zinged amongst matters that included the parenting strategies of meerkats (darkish), the superstar acknowledgment nod (doubtlessly awkward), aggressive pole dancing (it’s a factor!), and the right way to get into stunt work (by way of aggressive pole dancing, in fact).

Photograph: Nadav Kander

Born in Sweden to an expat English mom and a Swedish father, she acquired her first performing position on the age of 16, when she joined the solid of Nya Tider, a Swedish cleaning soap opera. Common-enough work adopted: one other cleaning soap and some movies, interspersed with different jobs like nannying and a place in a day-care middle. It wasn’t till 2013’s The White Queen, a BBC dramatization of Philippa Gregory’s historical-novel collection primarily based on the Wars of the Roses, that she began to flourish. Ferguson performed Elizabeth Woodville, a widow who turned Queen Consort Elizabeth of England — the titular White Queen. Met with essential acclaim, Ferguson was nominated for a Golden Globe and caught the attention of Tom Cruise. She obtained a name from the actor whereas she was on location in Morocco driving a camel named Barbie for the miniseries The Purple Tent. (Barbie is identical camel Nicole Kidman rides within the 2015 movie Queen of the Desert.) Cruise supplied her a job in 2015’s Mission: Unimaginable — Rogue Nation as Ilsa Faust, an MI6 agent working undercover in “the Syndicate,” a world group of ex–intelligence officers who’ve shaped their very own anti-IMF (Unimaginable Missions Pressure). They’re, naturally, out to wreak havoc however are held at bay by Cruise’s never-inert Ethan Hunt, with whom Faust, performing as a double agent of kinds, has joined forces. Hunt and Faust met once more in 2018 for an equally stunt-heavy sequel, Mission: Unimaginable — Fallout. “I by no means thought I’d be capable to do the issues I did on Mission: Unimaginable,” Ferguson says. “I’m scared of heights, and there’s a scene the place I did a 130-foot free-fall drop. I needed to do it ten occasions. I skilled a lot to get to the purpose the place I might step off a metallic bridge over a drop. They reduce it from the movie. I believe they appreciated my character simply arriving into body.”

To prepare for Dune, she visited the studio to know the atmosphere her character would occupy. “If I’m capturing in a room, I have to realize it. I don’t wish to rock up and be, Okay, this was my bed room for the previous 20 years,” she explains. Villeneuve and his accomplice, Tanya Lapointe, turned shut mates with Ferguson. “I converse to him as soon as every week,” she says earlier than including, with a touch of mock seriousness, “I’m making an attempt to control him into giving me some fucking cool scenes for the subsequent one, if it occurs.”

The primary scene she shot on set was with Charlotte Rampling, the Reverend Mom Gaius Helen Mohiam of the Bene Gesserit. A robust truthsayer in a mesh veil, Rampling assessments Paul for his powers by subjecting him to tortuous quantities of ache by way of psychological stimulation. “I used to be very nervous. I used to be having coronary heart palpitations realizing she was going to stroll in,” Ferguson says, her face lighting up on the reminiscence. “I’m drawn to French fucked-off-ness. In my head, she was going to be tough to speak to, and my plan was to interrupt by way of that. After which in walks this … cool kitten. There was no ego and no meanness. There was simply respect.” Working with Rampling set the bar for the movie. “It’s a really cool factor for an actor to do, to be so snug in their very own presence.” She pauses for a beat. “I’ve acquired her cellphone quantity, by the way in which.”

Ferguson lives together with her husband, Rory, their younger daughter, and her teenage son from a earlier relationship in an historical home they’re presently doing up. They stay pretty privately behind a wall — you possibly can’t see the home or their backyard from the road. “I like it as a result of I’m a one-minute stroll from the Thames,” she says. “I really like rowing and paddleboarding.” She pours a cup of mint tea and leans again into her seat. At the moment, she is engaged on Wool, an adaptation of Hugh Howey’s collection of books set in a world the place society lives underground. The books discover two mind-sets: that we’re born sort and society fucks us over and that we’re born grasping and society buildings us with legal guidelines and frameworks. Ferguson performs Juliette, an engineer, and can also be an govt producer of the present, “studying a brand new aspect of being in with the massive girls and boys,” she says.

Just lately, she has been studying Joan Didion; her writing has seeped into how Ferguson is considering this newest position. “Didion is a juxtaposition of residing in a world that’s so eccentric with medicine and drinks, but she’s so quiet and locked in you possibly can’t break by way of,” she says. “I’m a little bit bit in love together with her.” Ferguson is drawn to introverts, nevertheless it’s a means of being that feels international to her. “I’m all the time the individual on my toes. I’m blunt, I converse quick, and folks like it as a result of it makes them comfy, however generally I believe I’ve been handed that persona,” she says. “How are you going to stroll round in a world the place there’s an expectancy of you to be one thing?”

Need extra tales like this one? Subscribe now to assist our journalism and get limitless entry to our protection. If you happen to choose to learn in print, it’s also possible to discover this text within the October 25, 2021, challenge of New York Journal. | Rebecca Ferguson Is the Actual Star of ‘Dune’


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