‘The Acolyte’: Leslye Headland Talks Hiring Writers New To ‘Star Wars’ & Ignoring Online Feedback To Avoid Covering Politics

Lucasfilm is making a giant push with their live-action Star Wars shows and one of the more interesting projects is Leslye Headland’s (Russian Doll) The Acolyte, a series set directly at the tail-end of The High Republic that seemingly focuses on the presence of the Sith (I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Darth Talon).

The Acolyte is a mystery-thriller that will take the audience into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark side powers in the final days of The High Republic era.

The showrunner recently spoke to the AV Club about the assembling the writers’ room and also staying true to George Lucas’ original vision by ignoring fan demands to stay away from covering politics. Something voiced heavily by the closed-minded corner of Star Wars fandom that have serious trouble understanding what the franchise was influenced by or is even about.

When it came time to hire writers for the show, Headland was looking for solid writers with a different perspective rather than amazing knowledge of the Star Wars Universe, “Mostly what I looked for were people that I felt could execute a great script, number one. And then in the job interview, just really talking to people who had different life experiences than I did, and had different connections to Star Wars than I did.”

Headland continued, “What I also learned about hiring my room is that everyone’s fandom was very different. No one had the same experience with Star Wars. There were people like myself that were like later-in-life [Dave] Filoni acolytes. I literally had one writer that was like, ‘I have never seen any of them. I’ve never seen any Star Wars media.’ And she’s texting me before we started the room, she’s like, “Luke and Leia are brother and sister, what the…?” [Laughs.] And it was so great, because I would really love to know from someone who is not fully immersed in this fandom, what do you think about the pitch we just made?

She also talked about bucking various “feedback” suggesting that any future Star Wars project should stay away from politics. It makes sense considering that George Lucas made a direct point that his films would be infused by politics and it’s sort of shocking that many fans watch those movies having zero idea they were influenced by things like the Vietnam War, Nazi Germany/Nazi Occupied Europe, the Iraq War, and British Colonialism.

“I mean, it’s funny, because a lot of the feedback that I’ll get—and I use the term feedback very lightly—but when I do go on social media, the feedback is ‘Don’t make Star Wars political.’ I’m like, ‘George Lucas made it political. Those are political films.’ War is, by nature, political. That’s just what’s up. It’s truly what he was interested in talking about and looking at and digging into. So it’s kind of impossible to tell a story within his universe that doesn’t have to do with something that has to be that the characters see externally reflected in whatever’s happening in the galaxy at that particular time period of when it takes place. You know? That’s another thing that we all kind of inherited from him as well, and hope to kind of keep reflecting in the work, hopefully,” the showrunner told The AV Club.

While I could careless about Lucasfilm’s publishing efforts with The High Republic, I am really excited to see the studio tackle an era of Star Wars that could open the door for a wave of brand new characters and not just recycling things we’ve seen from the nine films or the animation side over and over.


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