Many “Star Wars” fans were excited to learn even more about “The Acolyte” at Star Wars Celebration 2023, which took place earlier this month in London.
Along with learning more about the several live-action series currently in the works at Disney+, Lucasfilm also revealed three new movies are in the works, including one starring Daisy Ridley.
Although the cast of “The Acolyte” has been released in bits and pieces, the story is starting to take shape, as showrunner Leslye Headland recently described it as “Frozen meets Kill Bill.”
‘The Acolyte’ Showrunner Leslye Headland Says New ‘Star Wars’ Show Is ‘Frozen Meets Kill Bill’
During the Star Wars Celebration panel and a subsequent interview with IGN, showrunner Leslye Headland said that “The Acolyte” is a story told from the perspective of the villains and takes place during the High Republic era at a time when “the bad guys are outnumbered.”
“When doing a Star Wars show that was going to be from the perspective of who we usually see as the villains, it made sense to set it during a time period where the Jedi were in power,” Headland said. “That meant that it was a time of peace.”
There are plenty of Jedi in this time period and plenty of famous faces in this new series as well. “The Acolyte” features an all-star cast of “The Hunger Games” alum Amandla Stenberg, “Squid Game” star Lee Jung-jae, “The Matrix” star Carrie-Anne Moss, and many more. Joonas Suotamo, who picked up the role of Chewbacca in 2015’s “The Force Awakens” after the late Peter Mayhew, will be playing a Wookiee Jedi.
Headland explained that she had initially pitched the idea as “Frozen meets Kill Bill,” which left fans with plenty of questions. The “Russian Doll” creator that the “Frozen” aspect was “so much of it was about the villainous – actually being a powerful, misunderstood woman.”
“It was hitting me on such a deep level and yet servicing the genre so well,” she explained. “So I think that’s absolutely what ‘The Acolyte’ does. It’s hitting a lot of very deep emotional moments, and yet, it is servicing exactly what you want from the genre from a Star War show.”
In regards to “Kill Bill,” Headland continued, “I think it’s a really good reference for the modern-day martial arts films. Obviously, Tarantino took inspiration from a lot of the movies that our action team and a lot of our design team pulled from, which is stuff from the Shaw brothers to Akira Kurosawa in his samurai films, but also wuxia films like on Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
Headland explained that she also took inspiration from other “Star Wars” series, adding that she was “very, very struck” by the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” episode “The Wrong Jedi.” In the episode, Anakin Skywalker’s padawan Ahsoka Tano (played in live-action by Rosario Dawson), is put on trial by the Jedi Council for crimes she did not commit.
Headland said that she really wants to “question the status quo” of the galaxy far, far away, adding, “As someone that voraciously consumes Star Wars media – everything from YouTube fan videos to actual the extended universe, just knowing everything I can possibly know about Star Wars – the stuff that interests me the most is honestly is when fans ask questions and they go, ‘Well, why would this happen this way?’”
“Why did Qui-Gon make the decision that he made? How did Darth Sidious become chancellor without Yoda, one of the most powerful Jedi who ever lived, knowing about it?” she asked. “I think that those are questions that were just all still hanging out there. So that’s where I think you start.”
Amandla Stenberg Reveals Her Character Was Written With Her In Mind
The cast stars Amandla Stenberg as the lead, although little is known about her character so far. In an interview with The Face magazine (via Game Rant) Amandla revealed that Lucasfilm producers had written the lead character of the series with her specifically in mind.
“The Lucasfilm team came to me with this project which was fully conceptualized with me in mind, and I was astounded,” she told the publication. Amandla also described herself as a big fan of the movies and TV shows, adding that she is “so lucky” to get to “get lost” in the franchise as part of her job.
“I get to read, watch, and breathe Star Wars. It’s my job to get lost in it, I’m so lucky,” she said. “My plans were interrupted by a very different life path, but one that I think is going to be a huge blessing.”
At Star Wars Celebration, Amandla told IGN, “What I love about Star Wars is how it delves into the complicated effects of power. And so we get to do that now, but within a point in the timeline that hasn’t been explored before, which is the High Republic era, and so that’s when the Jedi are at the height of their power.”
“And so Leslye, I think extremely cleverly, has decided to tell a story about an assemblage of characters who are dealing with their own morality within the context of this particular point in society,” she continued. “And so my character is someone who is really struggling with those things.”
Lee Jung-jae is the second lead of the series and looks to be playing a Jedi Master. He told IGN, “The most fun part of this character is the complexity of emotions and the depth and the layers,” adding, “That’s the most interesting part… But as much of that emotion going on, I also feel immense pressure.”
Actress Rebecca Henderson, who has had minor roles in “Orange is the New Black” and “Westworld,” will be playing Vernestra Rwoh, a Mirialan who first appeared in Charles Soule’s novel “Light of the Jedi.” This will be the character’s first on-screen appearance. Her character will be older in this series and be playing an Elder Jedi Master.
Actor Charlie Barnett, who previously worked with Headland on “Russian Doll,” is said to be playing a human Jedi Knight.
At Star Wars Celebration, Jodie Turner-Smith revealed that she will be playing a “powerful character,” adding, “My character is a powerful leader of women.” She explained that her character does use the Force; however, she is not a Jedi or Sith.
In a March 2023 interview with Collider, Turner-Smith revealed that the show was unlike anything she has ever done in her career.
“Obviously, the subject matter is different. It’s different when everything that you’re doing is light-hearted, and that’s not what I was doing for Star Wars,” she explained. “But I was working with my favorite director that I’ve worked with so far, Kogonada, and under the leadership of Leslye Headland. It is incredible to see. I can’t wait to see how this show turns out.”
She also revealed that she shares no scenes with star Amandla Stenberg. “Amandla is such an incredible performer,” she said. “I, unfortunately, didn’t have any scenes with her, but I got to see a little bit of what they’ve been doing, and I think it’s gonna be epic, and it’s nothing that anyone has seen before inside of that universe.”
Although Jodie-Turner Smith admitted that her character is “not a Jedi,” she added, “I didn’t get to use a lightsaber… but I did… not get to use a lightsaber.”
“The Acolyte” is expected to hit Disney+ in 2024.