‘The Acolyte’: Leslye Headland On Hiring ‘Star Wars’ Newbies As Writers, Being Asked To Be Apolitical

Daring to change anything about Star Wars is a risky gamble. Just ask Rian Johnson, who broke free from the formula for The Last Jedi and delivered one of the most divisive films in the franchise. That makes the upcoming series The Acolyte so intriguing, because the one running the show, Russian Doll creator Leslye Headland, isn’t the type to stick to formula, either.

Speaking with AV Club, Headland talked about The Acolyte and how she’s bringing in writers who aren’t steeped in Star Wars lore.

“Mostly what I looked for were people that I felt could execute a great script, number one,” Headland explained. “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.”

“There were people like myself that were like later-in-life [Dave] Filoni acolytes,” she continued. “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.]”

So yeah, this is going to be controversial to some die-hard fans right off the bat, especially those who pray at the altar of Dave Filoni, Jon Favreau, and George Lucas. Some of them have reached out to Headland already on social media, and she says one of their chief arguments is they don’t want her series to be political. That’s not something Headland is going to listen to…

“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.”

We still don’t know a lot about The Acolyte except that it will take place in the closing days of the High Republic. Hopefully, there will be more news, and some casting, to learn about soon.

Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.