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Who is Anya Taylor-Joy in 'Dune'? Alia Atreides, explained

She's there, and then she's gone.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for "Dune."

Anya Taylor-Joy makes a brief, but important, appearance in "Dune: Part Two." But unless you're well-versed in Frank Herbert's "Dune"-iverse, her scene in the box office hit might be confusing.

Zendaya, famously, only appeared in "Dune: Part One" for about seven minutes, but her role was expanded for "Dune: Part Two." Think of Anya Taylor-Joy's appearance similarly. Her seconds on screen will become more important, and more clear, in a third "Dune" movie.

While the third "Dune" movie hasn't been greenlit, director and writer Denis Villeneuve told Variety last December that he was writing the script for “Dune Messiah,” and said a third movie "would make absolute sense" to him.

Speaking to TODAY.com, Abu Zafar and Leo Wiggins, hosts of the "Dune"-centric podcast "Gom Jabbar," explain her role, and what might be next.

Who is Anya Taylor-Joy's character in 'Dune'? About Alia Atreides

Anya Taylor-Joy briefly shows up as an apparition after Paul drinks the Water of Life, a blue liquid used by the Bene Gesserit sisterhood and the Fremen to turn women into Reverend Mothers. She is the grown-up version of Paul's unborn sister, Alia Atreides. Until this point in the movie, she's hasn't been shown on screen — but she has been heard.

"Alia Atreides is a very interesting and very mysterious character," Wiggins says. "And one that even (Herbert), in writing about her, leaves a number of questions open," Wiggins says.

Zafar explains one "big, big change" between Alia in the books and movie are the timelines. Essentially, "Dune: Part Two" is significantly sped up.

In the movie, she’s a talking embryo, communicating to her mother. In the books, Paul and Jessica spend two years in the desert, which means Alia is a toddler at this point in her brother's life.

"Alia exists as an interesting juxtaposition," Wiggins says. "Paul faces this question of, 'What does it mean to be Fremen?' A big part of his inability to become Fremen is that he was not born on Arrakis. He had a whole childhood on the wet, water world of Caladan. Alia is born into the Fremen culture. She has the same lineage as Paul but has the full experience of being a Fremen."

Why can Alia speak from the womb?

Lady Jessica is pregnant when she undergoes the Water of Life ceremony. The potentially fatal ritual involves drinking a sandworm byproduct — a liquid form of spice. If you survive — and not everyone does — you inherit the memories of all the women before you.

Alia, in the womb during this ritual, becomes fully sentient. In the movie, this means she speaks to Lady Jessica before she's born, and schemes to help Paul unlock his abilities.

In the book, "she doesn't do that kind of scheming," Zafar says.

"She's around and she's helping her mother. She's helping the Fremen, but she doesn't play an active role in pushing Paul one way or another," he says. "That was a choice they made in the film to dramatize the tension of, 'Will Paul do it?' Will he follow the prophecy or reject the prophecy?"

What's next for Alia?

Wiggins says that the Water of Life ceremony, and becoming "fully awakened in the womb," has repercussions for Alia, which are explored in the first book.

"Paul and Jessica, through their awakening, are confronted with memories of all of these different lives. Think about how much trauma would be involved in that. The tools Jessica has as a full adult woman who has lived a whole life before hitting getting hit with all trauma, are are very different than the tools of an unborn embryo," Wiggins says.

The biggest change between 'Dune: Part 2' and the books also involves Alia

Spoiler! The Atreides ultimately get revenge against the Harkonnens, who, in "Dune: Part One," invade Arrakis and kill essentially everyone they know. In doing so, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Stellan Skarsgård’s portly villain, seizes control of the spice means of production, and has a handle on the entire empire's economy.

Alia kills Harkonnen in Herbert's "Dune," and young Alia killing the formidable baron is portrayed in David Lynch’s 1984 “Dune”.

In Villeneuve's movie, Paul does the job of avenging his slain father, Leto Atreides, himself.