The Acolyte creator and showrunner Leslye Headland recently explained why the upcoming Star Wars streaming series focuses heavily on its female villains.
Headland discussed The Acolyte‘s baddie-centric approach to storytelling in an interview with Empire, revealing that it was her experiences as a pop culture fan growing up. “When I was a young queer girl, I was just hanging out with Ursula the sea witch [from The Little Mermaid],” she said. “As a queer girl growing up, if you don’t identify with the heroes, and the villains show up and they’re all queer-coded, you’re like — yes, that’s me!” Headland also touched on how this will affect The Acolyte‘s tone, hinting that the show will offer a more arch vibe than Star Wars fans are used to. “As a queer filmmaker, you’re gonna see some camp [in The Acolyte]. Inevitably! But I would say that tonally, our references are darker,” she teased.
The showrunner discussed The Acolyte‘s more morally ambiguous spin on the Star Wars franchise in a previous interview, noting that she took her cues for this from 1999’s The Phantom Menace. Specifically, she singled out the film’s portrayal of the Jedi Order as being more fallible than previously assumed as something that The Acolyte will explore in greater detail. “The Jedi really think they’re right — and [Star Wars creator] George [Lucas] tells us that they’re wrong in [The Phantom Menace],” Headland said. “They missed a huge aspect of the dark side rising. That just felt like fertile ground to look into what’s going on for all of us right now.”
The Acolyte Boss On The Last Jedi
Headland recently cited a more recent franchise installment, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as an influence on The Acolyte‘s story, too. The showrunner praised The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson for offering a “critical” view of the Jedi and suggested that this was responsible for the movie’s polarizing reputation. “I think that, especially in that moment, people were very nervous about saying this particular institution may not be the light and perfect, stunning group of heroes that are totally nobly intentioned,” Headland said. Headland also reiterated that the revisionist stance on the Jedi Order she and Johnson share is in keeping with the Star Wars prequels.
Casual Star Wars fans needn’t worry about brushing up on too much Star Wars lore prior to diving into The Acolyte, though. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said as much during a recent interview, insisting that The Acolyte is one of several upcoming Star Wars projects designed to serve as an “entry point” for viewers with little or no prior knowledge of the long-running franchise’s history.
The Acolyte is slated to premiere on Disney+ sometime in 2024.
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