The Spice

Dune 2021 theory: Zendaya is playing a shocking surprise second role

Let's talk about Chani's daughter.

Could Zendaya have a secret second role in Dune 2021?

If the new Dune film manages to reference some of the events of the books beyond Frank Herbert's first novel, we could possibly be set-up for a second role from Zendaya. If there is a Dune sequel or hints at premonitions to the future in Dune 2021, the idea that Zendaya could continue in the franchise as a totally new character isn't out of the question.

Here's why Zendaya could play her own daughter in possible sequels to Dune, and why, even if that doesn't happen, she could still appear in several sequels, despite the fact that her character isn't technically around after the second book, Dune: Messiah.

Because Dune 2021 flipped the male role of Liet-Kynes to female with the casting of Sharon Duncan-Brewster, readers of the books know without being told outright that Sharon Duncan-Brewster is "secretly" playing Zendaya's mother and Timothée Chalamet's pseudo-mother-in-law.

In the pivotal role of Chani, Zendaya's impact on the story of Dune is already huge. Chani is Paul's true love, and the person he joins forces with to unite House Atrieds with the Fremen of Arrakis. Without Chani, the second half of the book can't happen. But even bigger than that, Chani is the mother of the powerful twins — Ghanima Atreides and Leto Atreides II.

By the fourth book — God Emperor of Dune — Leto II is literally a sandworm-human hybrid that rules the universe. But he also possesses the living memory of his mother, Chani. If the new Dune films ever got to the events of God Emperor of Dune, it's possible you could see Zendaya's spirit communicating with her son Leto, thousands of years into the future, kind of like a Dune-Force ghost.

But more immediately, Zendaya could potentially play Chani's daughter Ghanima. Though it seems unlikely that Dune 2021 would get to the birth of the twins (we've still got to get to Paul's baby sister before his babies) it's not impossible to think we could get some spice-induced future visions. If that happened, it would be a smart bit of stunt-casting to have Zendaya play not only Chani but Chani's future daughter Ghanima.

Ghanima is also notable because unlike so many characters in Dune — and in the Atreides line in specific — she doesn't die a horrible death in the end. Ghanima is thought to have lived a "relatively normal life."

Zendaya as Chani in Dune 2021.

Warner Bros

That said, before she is able to kind of retire from the public eye, Ghanima has to deal with her brother, Leto II, who decided to transform into a sandworm. Though there is no actual incest, Ghanima is "publicly" married to her brother Leto II (ewwww), in order to maintain the Atreides power in the universe. (This is kind of like Paul being married to Princess Irulan, even though he loves Chani and has children with Chani.)

All that said, Ghanima ends-up having her own real partner named Farad'n, and her own family, too. She doesn't become a villain or a weirdo, and unlike her mother, she doesn't die in childbirth. If Zendaya were able to play Ghanima, as well as the future living memory of Chani, it would be a wonderful move from the filmmakers. Zendaya is too good of an actor to waste on one Dune role. Why not give her three?

Dune 2021 will hit HBO Max (and theaters) on October 1, 2021.

Related Tags