Very little is known about Leslye Headland’s upcoming Disney+ series Star Wars: The Acolyte. The blurb for the show says that it is “a mystery-thriller that will take viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era”, but outside of that, we know nothing about the characters in play or what the story will be.
Thankfully, Leslye Headland gave us a little bit of clarity this past week in what inspired the show and what we might see in the show that links to the live-action Star Wars prequels. Headland, a self-proclaimed die hard, cutthroat fan of Star Wars, said that it was actually The Phantom Menace and the Jedi at that time that initially inspired the idea behind The Acolyte. Headland was in high school when The Phantom Menace released, so while other, older fans were decrying TPM, she found the narrative very interesting and saw the potential in what Lucas was trying to do.
“I know there were varying reactions to it. And certainly there were a lot of people that had grown up with the original trilogy who were disappointed by it. But I actually was very intrigued by why George Lucas had started us at that particular point. I kind of wondered, but what happened to lead up to this? That’s kind of where my ‘Star Wars’ fan brain went was like, ‘How did we get here?’ And why are the Jedi like this? When they are in power, why are they acting this way and how is it that they’re not having the reaction that you would think they would to Anakin’s presence and what Qui-Gon Jinn is saying about how passionately he feels about training him and bringing him into the fold. It’s like, even the discovery of Darth Maul is kind of met with this like, ‘Hm, interesting’ kind of feeling. So I just think for me, my brain has always buzzed around that area and wondered what’s going on here — or what has been going on here.”https://www.thewrap.com/the-acolyte-leslye-headland-star-wars-series-phantom-menace-lgbtq-writers-room/
Clearly, Headland’s goal with The Acolyte is basically to be a prequel to the prequels. She wants to show how the galaxy, and the Jedi, were in such a comfortable position that they could be ambushed by a lone Sith. This is something that is sorely needed in current Star Wars. We have a very good read on how we got from the end of Revenge of the Sith to A New Hope thanks to The Clone Wars, Rebels, and Rogue One, but we have no idea how we got to The Phantom Menance.
Headland also spoke on how having diversity in the writers’ room has helped create a story that will appeal to fans regardless of their level of knowledge of the series and all of its interconnected properties. Diversity, in this case, is meant in many different forms. Diversity of race, gender, and sexual orientation, but also diversity in terms of level of knowledge of Star Wars as a whole. As mentioned above, Headland is a die-hard fan who has seen and played all content that Star Wars has to offer, even the most recent game releases like Jedi Fallen Order, so it was her goal to bring in varying levels of franchise knowledge to ensure she wasn’t creating something too heady for new viewers.
“You want to have people that respect the source material, who absolutely know what you’re talking about, but at the same time, I think it’s important that you have some voices who are approaching it a little bit more as kind of the way George Lucas approached Episode IV, right? When he wrote ‘A New Hope,’ he was not approaching it, like, ‘Well, in “Star Wars,” there’s this thing.’ He’s talked over and over again about his kind of inspiration for that film being from tone poems or from a school of cinema that was much more about visual representation of feelings. And, of course, the monomyth and not from a place of, ‘I have an encyclopedic knowledge about an IP,’ which I have a pretty decent knowledge of it, I have a lot of people on my staff that do, obviously, there’s people who work at Lucasfilm a that’s their only job. So I felt really well supported in that sense. It was more like, ‘Hi, you don’t know any of this. What do you think about this storyline? What do you think about this character? What do you think about this being a major set piece?’ That was important to me in scouting people out, because I felt properly supported in the other places.”https://www.thewrap.com/the-acolyte-leslye-headland-star-wars-series-phantom-menace-lgbtq-writers-room/
With this type of approach and with the clear vision in place, it seems like Leslye and her team are in a good position to bring the High Republic era to life on Disney+. As of right now, there is no release date for The Acolyte, but we will be sure to keep you updated when any release news drops.