By Sean Thiessen | Published
Get ready to expand your lightsaber collection. The upcoming Star Wars series The Acolyte is expected to hit Disney+ next year, and it will introduce the world to a whole new host of Jedi. In fact, speaking on Entertainment Weekly’s Dagobah Dispatch podcast, series creator Leslye Headland teased that the show will have more Jedi than any Star Wars movie or show to date.
Star Wars: The Acolyte is going to set a record with the amount of Jedi involved, exceeding any movie or show in the franchise.
The Acolyte is set in the twilight years of the High Republic, approximately 100 years before the events of The Phantom Menace. It is a time of peace in the galaxy, and the Jedi Order is at its peak. “We have more Jedi than you’ve seen in any of the Star Wars content,” says Headland.
But to Headland, Star Wars has always been an underdog story. In this time of broad peace and Jedi dominance, The Acolyte will tell its story from the perspective of the bad guys. “These are people who are using the Force in their own way,” Headland explains, “dipping into the darker sides of the Force and are doing it without being sanctioned by the larger institution, which, in this case, is the Jedi.”
The Acolyte follows a former Padawan who reunites with her old Jedi Master to investigate a dark mystery. As they follow the path, they discover its twists to be more sinister than they ever imagined.
“These are people who are using the Force in their own way, dipping into the darker sides of the Force and are doing it without being sanctioned by the larger institution, which, in this case, is the Jedi.”
Amanda Sternberg joins the cast as the Padawan, and Squid Game star Lee Jung-jae plays the Jedi Master. Little is known about the characters, but Stenberg explains her part as one colored by moral ambiguity. For her, ethical dilemmas and gray areas are the best parts of Star Wars.
Packed with complex dynamics and rumored cameos from actors like Keanu Reeves, the series has a unique opportunity to critique the practices and politics of the Jedi. Flipping the traditional Star Wars script to tell a story from the perspective of darker, more villainous characters is a fascinating move, but one that presents complications.
Headland admits that one of the great challenges of The Acolyte is telling a Star Wars story with no war in it. That challenge eventually led the creative team to a show built on smaller, more intimate conflicts. It is a different way of approaching Star Wars, but the changes don’t stop there.
The Acolyte will embrace the aesthetics of George Lucas’s Star Wars prequel trilogy, trading the grungy, dilapidated world of post-Imperial Star Wars for something sleek and shiny. The series will also offer a different take on Star Wars action.
When preparing The Acolyte, Headland studied the Westerns and Samurai films that inspired George Lucas when making the original Star Wars. She then explored martial arts films, favoring them for their personal stakes and intimate scale, which align more with her series’ story. “I don’t think you’re going to see action in other shows the way that you see it utilized in our show,” she asserts.
The Acolyte is going to be the most unique show in the Star Wars canon, revealing a new side of the franchise for the first time to fans.
Martial arts and lightsabers have, historically, been a great combo. As The Acolyte looks to finally break the Star Wars franchise free of its Skywalker shackles and tell a story of a different era, it will bring with it a fresh take on fight choreography.
Several Star Wars movies and shows have led troubled existences since Disney took over Lucasfilm in 2012. Massive reshoots fired directors, and scrapped projects litter the franchise’s recent history. The Acolyte wrapped in June and appears to actually be on its way toward release.
Star Wars fans are picky. You can’t please them all, but The Acolyte appears not to care. It is shaping up to be a bold swing for the franchise and one that will pack the screen with Jedi in a way fans have not seen since the prequel days. No release date has yet been announced for The Acolyte, but it is expected to turn back the clock on the galaxy far, far away in 2024.