Rebecca Ferguson says her Dune voice was basically ‘Donald Duck sounds’

In director Denis Villenueve’s Dune, Rebecca Ferguson is playing perhaps the coolest character in Frank Herbert’s book: the disgraced Bene Gesserit skilled, enthusiastic enthusiast, and increasingly protective mom called Girl Jessica. Jessica is how we are presented to the supernatural capabilities of the all-female Bene Gesserit sect, which plays a long video game for control of the galaxy. And the most cinematic of those superpowers is the Bene Gesserit Voice, a method of managing the minds of others just by speaking with them.

“The Voice was a fun thing to play around with,” Ferguson informs Polygon over Zoom. “When we were on set, Denis didn’t really have a clear idea of exactly how it would sound which gave such a freedom for me and everyone else to to interpret it the way they wanted to, and that’s a creative freedom.”

[Ed. note: This piece contains mild spoilers for Dune.]

In the last movie, Villenueve and his results group imbue the Voice with layers of tone and reverberations whenever it is utilized, however that work was all performed in post production. Ferguson and the other stars carrying out Bene Gesserit mind control on set just needed to discover their own method to embody a voice so engaging it need to be followed — which indicated some experimentation.

“I actually started doing like, Donald Duck sounds,” Ferguson states, “and I don’t know where I was going with it. I thought, If I can play around and animate a sound, I think Denis will go, ‘Oh, that’s amazing. Let’s do that, Rebecca!’ [laughs] Never happened. So we focused mostly on where the energy came from. It’s like yoga, it’s like meditation [for the Bene Gesserit]. If you are in complete calm, and in line with your thoughts and your soul and your body, there is a directness, when you cut out all of the other stimulants around you. And to be able to talk from that point, whether it is ‘Start your interview,’ or whatever it is, it will become very pure.”

Ferguson didn’t hear the Voice in its complete power till the very first time she saw the last movie — and she liked it. However she states the procedure was the exact same for another traditional Dune features: the sandworm.

“Paul [Lambert], the visual effects man, who is amazing, he would be on set nearly every day. You couldn’t see the shape of the sandworm, which was quite cool because no one really knew exactly what it looked like. So once again we could play with shape and size, it was very sort of adaptable to our own imagination.”

Dune was launched internationally on Sept. 15, and will be readily available in theaters and HBO Max on Oct. 21 beginning at 6 p.m. EST.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.