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Rebecca Ferguson on taking life lessons from her roles: 'I learn from all of my characters'

·3 min read

Rebecca Ferguson has a lot of characters rumbling around in her head.

In EW's Bold School video series, which celebrates Hollywood's female power players (in front of and behind the camera), Ferguson opens about about the various life lessons she's learned from all of her screen characters and the ways in which she still carries each of them with her.

"I learn from all of my characters," she explains, before starting to run through some of her most notable roles. "Quite recently, I learned from Mae in Reminiscence, who had such strength because she had a belief and she had something she was working towards. And then you have the physical strength of Ilsa Faust from Mission: Impossible. She is on par with Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt, which is amazing, and that is the writer and Tom writing her to that level."

Rebecca Ferguson
Rebecca Ferguson

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images Rebecca Ferguson

"The strength of a mother in The Girl on the Train — there's a woman there who is living in a very abusive relationship and the strength for her to be able to breakout and tell the truth," she continues. Ferguson even compares her character in Dune, concubine Lady Jessica, to her star-marking turn as Elizabeth Woodville in The White Queen, noting the ways in which women wield power through alliances and behind doors dealing. "She's like the Bene Gesserit, really," she notes, referencing the female mystical order her Dune character is part of. "Creating chaos but also creating the better good for the moment, the system, the grander scale."

Dune
Dune

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Rebecca Ferguson in 'Dune'

The Dune star says her characters inform her life every day after she wraps production. "They all live in me," she reflects. "I don't let them go, I bring them out every now and then."

When Ferguson signed on to Dune, she feared being typecast as kick-ass women. "My head went into 'Oh, for God's sake, I'm being typecast as strong female characters,'" she previously told EW. "And I thought, how the hell do I get out of that? It's lovely, but I also find vulnerability really strong. I find fear very interesting."

But she was able to find a myriad of layers within the character's love for Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and their son, Paul (Timothée Chalamet), juxtaposed against her larger ambitions. "This was not about hitting one moment of emotion or power, this was about finding the musicality between them all," she says. "It is genderless; it is there for a reason and a purpose. When she loves, she loves. When she protects, she protects."

Ferguson's love for that complex mix of vulnerability and strength probably starts with her favorite fictional character of all time, Pippi Longstocking, or as she calls her, Pippi Långstrump — the character's original name in Ferguson's native Sweden. "When I was young, I was presented with [a] storybook by this wonderful author called Astrid Lindgren," she explains. "She wrote a book called Pippi Långstrump — that's her real name, guys, there's no 'Longstocking' — and Pippi could do anything. She was strong, she was lonely, she was lost, but no one would win over her. And she had freckles. She was my hero."

For more on Ferguson's heroes, the best and worst advice she's ever heard, and more, watch the full video above.

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