The Acolyte’s Executive Producer Leslye Headland appeared at Star Wars Celebration and provided some new details about the upcoming Disney+ show specifically noting the series tells its story from “the perspective of the villains.”
While discussing the show and its placement in the Star Wars timeline, Headland told attendees at Star Wars Celebration 2023 where exactly the show is in the timeline and how she pitched the show.
She said, “I think one of the things that would be helpful to kind of put in perspective is that we’re at the end of that [High Republic] era and moving more into George’s era of The Phantom Menace.”
“So my question became, as a fan, when I initially pitched the show to Kathleen [Kennedy], which was an original idea with new characters and not connecting it to Skywalker Saga or any of the existing characters in the High Republic,” Headland continued. “What I wanted it to introduce the fans to the concept too was how do you reconcile the Jedi at the height of their power, the Galaxy at the height of this Age of Enlightenment and peace, and who George says they become at the top of The Phantom Menace.”
“And to me that meant why don’t you tell a story about Star Wars from the perspective of the villains, of the bad guys. And if those bad guys are outnumbered at this point then that means that you get this opportunity to see how the Jedi very subtly go from who they were in the High Republic and the Old Republic and who they became by the time you’re watching episodes one, two, and three,” she relayed.
Headland, who received a BFA in drama from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, then broke down into tears and said, “Star Wars saved my life.”
She then added, “The truth is we are so spoiled now with Star Wars media. I know that it can feel sometimes like, ‘Well, I like this thing,’ and ‘I don’t like that thing,’ and if you don’t like The Acolyte that’s fine. It doesn’t matter. The reality is is that Star Wars in and of itself is not just a vast universe full of many different characters, many different eras, but it is always, always, always about the spiritual journey of what it is to become who you are.”
“And that’s why I’m that’s why I am so so overwhelmed and grateful to be here and beyond overwhelmed and grateful to be allowed as a filmmaker to experience what it is like to actually tactilely make something in this world. That is beyond my wildest dreams and I can’t wait to show you guys more I wish I could,” Headland stated.
She then revealed, “We are still shooting so I can’t. We’re not done yet. So we don’t have enough to show yet, but hopefully you will be able to see it soon.”
While Headland claims she pitched the show as looking at the Star Wars universe from the villains, one of the actors in the show, Charlie Barnett also appeared at Star Wars Celebration 2023 and claimed “the best parts about Star Wars is there is no good or evil, depends on what side you’re standing on.”
Barnett revealed his thoughts after being asked to describe The Acolyte in five words or less. He responded, “I would say a ‘battle for power.’” He then continued, “I mean the best parts about Star Wars is there is no good or evil. It depends on what side you are standing on, truly.”
He explained, “You can look at any angle and see yourself relayed through all the characters: Darth [Vader] to Luke. You know what I’m saying.”
Barnett then went on to provide more details on how The Acolyte reshapes Star Wars, “This show is truly about that balance of power and balance of good versus evil. And realizing so much of it starts at the root, truly.”
There are clearly mixed messaged already being pitched when it comes to this show. Barnett is pushing a moral relativism through the show, while Headland is claiming the show follows the villains and the most important aspect of Star Wars is the spiritual journeys characters take.
If Lucasfilm can’t even get their actors and executive producers on the same page about what their show, it’s hard to imagine the actual show will have any connective tissue itself or try and follow Star Wars canon, something Disney and Lucasfilm have made apparently clear they have been unable to do in shows like The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
What do you make of Headland’s comments?