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"Leslye Headland, Emmy-nominated creator of the mind-bending series Russian Doll, is a boldly innovative filmmaker bringing her new Star Wars series to Disney+. The Acolyte is a mystery thriller that will take us into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging Dark Side powers in the final days of the High Republic era."
―President Kathleen Kennedy announces the series during Disney Investor Day 2020[11]

The Acolyte is a Star Wars television series developed by Leslye Headland for Disney+. Headland wrote, executive produced, and served as the series' showrunner. The show takes place a century before the events of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, and focuses on the emergence of dark side powers in the final days of the High Republic Era. It premiered on June 4, 2024.

Official description

The Acolyte is a mystery-thriller that will take viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era. A former Padawan reunites with her Jedi Master to investigate a series of crimes, but the forces they confront are more sinister than they ever anticipated.[5]



"I think you see more morally ambiguous characters than you've seen in other Star Wars content. And I think I can say this pretty confidently: I don't think you're going to see action in other shows the way that you see it used and utilized in our show. I just thought it was very interesting to do a show about the bad guys and to set that during that period made the most sense, so I think that's what sets it apart. It's kind of almost flipped. We have more Jedi than you've seen in any other of the Star Wars content. I can say this pretty confidently, I don't think you're going to see action in other shows the way that you see it utilized in our show."
―Leslye Headland[12]

Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae, and director Leslye Headland

On April 22, 2020, Variety reported that a Star Wars series was in development for Disney+, with Russian Doll co-creator Leslye Headland writing and serving as showrunner. The report noted that the series will be female-centric, and that it will take place in a new part of the Star Wars timeline.[13] The series was officially announced on May 4, 2020 on StarWars.com. The announcement also revealed that Headland will be an executive producer on the project.[2] The series's title, logo, and general premise were revealed at a Disney investors meeting on December 10, 2020.[14] Rayne Roberts will co-develop the series with Headland.[15]

On July 22, 2022, Amandla Stenberg and Star Wars jointly announced on Instagram the former's casting in the series.[7] On November 7, 2022, it was announced that the series started production in the United Kingdom, and several cast members were revealed.[5] In July 2023, Headland gave a statement on the show's tone and characters, promising a morally grey look into the Star Wars universe and unique action.[12]

Inspiration and filming

Literary and Star Wars influences

Leslye Headland drew from storytelling in both the Star Wars Legends continuity, such as its 1990s roleplaying games as part of what was then known as the "Expanded Universe" beyond the stories of Star Wars creator George Lucas, and the ongoing Star Wars: The High Republic multimedia project that was launched by Lucasfilm in 2021. The concept of an acolyte, after which the series is titled, was taken from the Legends continuity; a Sith Acolyte refers to an individual being trained for the position of a Sith's formal apprentice. Headland included Vernestra Rwoh, who was introduced as a Jedi Padawan learner in Justina Ireland's 2021 novel A Test of Courage, set during the golden age of the Galactic Republic's democracy and the Jedi Order in the High Republic Era in 232 BBY. The Acolyte is set a hundred years afterward and stars Rwoh as a Jedi Master. The series is also set a hundred years before George Lucas' prequel trilogy.[16]

Headland thought about Jedi Masters Mace Windu and Yoda's remarks about the relative dormancy of the dark side of the Force in the 1999 prequel film, Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, asking who would have been practicing the dark side in the century leading up to the Sith's return and the rise of the Galactic Empire, as shown in 2002's Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and 2005's Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Headland also compares the time of the High Republic in which The Acolyte is set to the isolationist tendencies of the United States post-World War I, particularly in terms of the decay of the High Republic to the time of the prequel trilogy, when Darth Sidious infiltrated the Galactic Senate.[16]

In terms of spirituality in Star Wars, Headland felt that the concept of the Force as explained by Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back strongly resonated with her, as compared to "even" the English author J.R.R. Tolkien, whose The Lord of the Rings fantasy was published in the 1950s, or her own Catholic upbringing.[16] The fantasy aspect of the galaxy far, far away also prompted her to compare it to the realm of Narnia created by C. S. Lewis, a contemporary of Tolkien's. Headland had a tattoo printed on her right hand after Lucasfilm hired her for The Acolyte, serving as a reminder of Star Wars to herself while making the series—the tattoo shows Ralph McQuarrie's concept illustration of Princess Leia Organa for Lucas' original trilogy, released between 1977 and 1983.[17]

Cinematic influences

Hong Kong Chinese martial arts and Japanese samurai cinema

Headland also drew inspiration from her favorite martial arts films. The Hong Kong Shaw Brothers studio film Come Drink with Me—directed by King Hu, set in the Ming era (1368—1644), and released in 1966 under the Chinese title 大醉俠—features a sequence at an inn that forms the basis of the Lomi Usqi Noodle Shop at the opening of The Acolyte's first episode, "Lost / Found."[18] The fight sequence there between Jedi Master Indara and the assassin Mae also pays homage to the martial arts choreography of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a 2000 Ang Lee film titled in Chinese as 臥虎藏龍.[19]

Aside from Chinese martial arts films, known as "mouhap" in Cantonese and "wuxia" in Mandarin, Headland was also inspired by the Japanese samurai film Yojimbo, directed by Akira Kurosawa and released under the Japanese title 用心棒 in 1961.[17] She explained that The Mandalorian producer Jon Favreau had mentioned that George Lucas had been influenced by Kurosawa's filmmaking and Western films, and Headland herself based her cinematic influences more strongly on martial arts films such as Shaw Brothers and King Hu productions—naming Come Drink with Me alongside King Hu's 1971 film A Touch of Zen, in Chinese titled 俠女—that are "less global and galactic," with deeply personal missions in which the warriors felt "wronged" and had to "make it right."[16] As a mystery thriller, The Acolyte was influenced by Kurosawa's film Rashomon, released in 1950 under the Japanese title 羅生門, for its use of differing interpretations of the same events.[17] Cinematographer Chris Teague additionally cited the 1973 Toshiya Fujita film Lady Snowblood, a period drama titled 修羅雪姫 in Japanese, as an inspiration for The Acolyte's camerawork.[20]

Character inspirations

Headland compared the story of Mae to two American films: Disney's 2013 film Frozen and Quentin Tarantino's 2003 film Kill Bill. The character was also inspired by the story of Ahsoka Tano in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series' 2013 episode "The Wrong Jedi" and the dynamic between Qi'ra and Maul at the end of the 2016 film Solo: A Star Wars Story.[21] Indara was inspired by the character Trinity from the Wachowskis' The Matrix film franchise (1999—2021), played by Carrie-Anne Moss, who Headland also cast as Master Indara.[22] For the first episode, "Lost / Found," Headland described the character's demeanor as both relaxed and controlled; a mix of Lucas' Skywalker saga Jedi character Obi-Wan Kenobi and the character O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill.[23]

Mae's accomplice, Qimir, is played by Manny Jacinto as a scoundrel archetype based on Johnny Depp's performance of Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series (2003–2017). Jacinto also compared Qimir's movements to the silent film works by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin in the early 20th century.[24] Given his dual role as the Stranger, Jacinto was additionally inspired by Toshiro Mifune's performance as the warrior Kikushiyo in 1954's Seven Samurai, a Kurosawa film named 七人の侍 in Japanese, and Jackie Chan's performance as the martial artist Wong Fei-hung in the Hong Kong film Drunken Master, released as 醉拳 in 1978.[25]

The fourth and fifth episodes, respectively titled "Day" and "Night," were partly inspired by two Hollywood science fiction films: Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien and John McTiernan's 1987 Predator.[26]

Filming locations and production design

Filming took place on location on Portugal's Madeira archipelago off the coast of Africa, in the mountainous forests of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park (Brecon Beacons) in Wales, and at the woods of Englefield Estate in Berkshire, England. Interior scenes also shot at Berkshire's Shinfield Studios.[27] Manny Jacinto prepared for his role as Qimir in the relative seclusion of the nearby town of Windsor.[25] The Acolyte introduces the planet Brendok, home to the witch coven, whose mountain retreat was inspired by the 1947 British film Black Narcissus by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger coupled with the Hoover Dam in the United States. The crew initially used Madeira for the planet Khofar's jungles, but they made use of other parts of the archipelago for scenes set on the unknown Sith planet, Olega, and Ueda as well.[20]

Production designer Kevin Jenkins heeded George Lucas' 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope's lived-in aesthetic, stating that the core of Star Wars is Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey "with dirt"—he learned from the designs of A New Hope production crew John Barry, Norman Reynolds, and Ralph McQuarrie while cinematographer Chris Teague used anamorphic lenses for The Acolyte, with film grain being added to the footage. Jenkins also likened Headland's episodic structure to the cliffhanger-based approach of the Flash Gordon serials, and further compared the High Republic Era to the height of the Roman Empire, incorporating vivid colors in The Acolyte's production design while maintaining a uniformity of Jedi designs previously shown in the High Republic publishing initiative.[20]


Episode Image Title Original Airdate Prod. #
1 LostFoundThumbnailAcolyte "Lost / Found" 1-1[1]
2 RevengeJustice-AltThumbnail "Revenge / Justice" 1-2[1]
3 Destiny-TheAcolyte-AltThumbnail "Destiny" June 11, 2024[28] 1-3[1]
4 Day-TheAcolyte-AltThumbnail "Day" June 18, 2024[28] 1-4[1]
5 Night-TheAcolyte-AltThumbnail "Night" June 25, 2024[28] 1-5[1]
6 TeachCorrupt-AltThumbnail "Teach / Corrupt" July 2, 2024[29] 1-6[1]
7 Choice-TheAcolyte-AltThumbnail "Choice" July 9, 2024[29] 1-7[1]
8 TheAcolyteEpisode-AltThumbnail "The Acolyte" July 16, 2024[30] 1-8[1]


Poster gallery


Notes and references

Explore all of Wookieepedia's media for this article subject:
Audio · Images
  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 The Acolyte on Writers Guild of America West (archived from the original on November 7, 2023)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 StarWars Academy Award Winner Taika Waititi to Direct and Co-Write new Star Wars Feature Film For Theatrical Release; Oscar Nominee Krysty Wilson-Cairns to Co-Write Screenplay with Waititi on StarWars.com (backup link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 StarWars Watch the Mystery of The Acolyte Unfold in Select Theaters June 3 on StarWars.com (backup link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 StarWars The Acolyte Teaser Poster, Premiere Date Revealed on StarWars.com (backup link)
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 StarWars The Acolyte Original Series Cast Revealed on StarWars.com (backup link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 StarWars The Acolyte Trailer, Key Art, and Premiere Date Revealed on StarWars.com (backup link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Instagram-Logo Amandla Stenberg (@amandlastenberg) on Instagram: Next stop: a galaxy far, far away… I am so excited to finally announce I'm joining Star Wars: #TheAcolyte ! Honored is an understatement. May the Force be with you 🖤 (July 22, 2022) (screenshot)
  8. 8.0 8.1 GettyImages-Logo 4.11.23 SW Celeb Tues Wrap Up Press Blast by The Walt Disney Studios on Getty Images (April 11, 2023) (backup link)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 End credits of Lost / Found
  10. StarWars "Lost/Found" Episode Guide | The Acolyte on StarWars.com (backup link) states that the events of The Acolyte take place 100 years before the events of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, which Star Wars: Timelines dates to 32 BBY. Therefore, The Acolyte takes place in 132 BBY.
  11. DisneyCompany-favicon Disney Investor Day 2020 on The Walt Disney Company official website (backup link)
  12. 12.0 12.1 'The Acolyte' Showrunner Promising More Action, More Jedi, And More Moral Ambiguity Than Ever Before on CultureSlate (July 21, 2023) (archived from the original on August 1, 2023)
  13. 'Star Wars' Series From 'Russian Doll' Co-Creator Leslye Headland in the Works at Disney Plus (EXCLUSIVE) by Joe Otterson on Variety (April 22, 2020) (archived from the original on May 4, 2020)
  14. StarWars Future Lucasfilm Projects Revealed on StarWars.com (backup link)
  15. Lucasfilm Rayne Roberts on Lucasfilm.com (backup link)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 The Acolyte: How Star Wars Is About to Venture Back in Time by Anthony Breznican on Vanity Fair (May 22, 2022) (archived from the original on May 24, 2022)
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 StarWars "Whatever You Think The Acolyte Is, It's Not": Star Wars Series Creator Leslye Headland Revels in the First Teaser Trailer on StarWars.com (backup link)
  18. StarWars "Lost / Found" Trivia Gallery | The Acolyte on StarWars.com (backup link) (Slide 1)
  19. StarWars "Lost / Found" Trivia Gallery | The Acolyte on StarWars.com (backup link) (Slide 8)
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Star Wars behind the scenes: Creating the unique aesthetic of The Acolyte by Jennifer Ouellette on Ars Technica (June 26, 2024) (archived from the original)
  21. The Acolyte's Leslye Headland Explains Her Show's Influences by Justin Carter on Gizmodo (April 16, 2023) (archived from the original on April 16, 2023)
  22. The Acolyte: Carrie-Anne Moss' Jedi Master Indara Is 'Very Much Inspired By Trinity' – Exclusive by Ben Travis on Empire (archived from the original on April 5, 2024)
  23. StarWars "Lost / Found" Trivia Gallery | The Acolyte on StarWars.com (backup link) (Slide 7)
  24. The Acolyte's Manny Jacinto reveals the surprising influence on his new Star Wars character by Ali Griffiths on Digital Spy (June 5, 2024) (archived from the original on June 5, 2024)
  25. 25.0 25.1 StarWars The Acolyte's Manny Jacinto Unmasked on StarWars.com (backup link)
  26. StarWars "Night" Trivia Gallery | The Acolyte on StarWars.com (backup link) (Slide 3)
  27. Where was 'The Acolyte' filmed? The surprising locations behind the new Star Wars series by Gregory James Wakeman on Time Out (June 5, 2024) (archived from the original on June 9, 2024)
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 DisneyPlusLogo Next on Disney+: June 2024 on Disney+ (backup link)
  29. 29.0 29.1 DisneyPlusLogo Next on Disney+: July 2024 on Disney+ (backup link)
  30. D23 logo Everything Coming to Disney+ in July 2024 on D23.com (backup link)

External links