Leslye Headland Talks ‘Acolyte’ Influence: “We Were Obviously Influenced by Samurai Films and Wuxia Films”


Yesterday, a trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ was released and we’ve got a first look at the characters and the High Republic setting. ‘The Acolyte’ is the first live-action show to take place during this time period and the second show overall (the first one was ‘Young Jedi Adventures’). Headland already explained how she was a massive fan of Star Wars Universe during her teen years and she jumped on the first opportunity to add something new and unique to the lore of the franchise. Now during her interview with THR Headland explained her influence and what the fans can expect from the show:

I’m calling Lucasfilm. That’s where I want to work. That’s what I want to do.” So I pitched them. My elevator pitch was Frozen meets Kill Bill, which I said at [Star Wars] Celebration, and I went through what I believed would be a rough season one outline and then an overall series bible, essentially. And Kathleen [Kennedy] bought it in the room and said, “I love it. I want to start working on it.”

The trailer showed us plenty of action and we can expect some interesting Jedi fights, Headland explained that her primary influence were Samurai films:

We were obviously influenced by samurai films and wuxia films, but also films like Rashomon, where you see one story and then you see it done a different way. So, what separates [Star Wars: The Acolyte] from some of the other Star Wars series is that it’s told in that particular way.

Aas you can see from the trailer, a lot of martial arts. So we had an incredible stunt team that did some incredible wire work, and the talent did a lot of their own action. A lot of them had either done it before, like Carrie-Anne Moss, Lee Jung-jae and Dafne Keen. And then Amandla [Stenberg] just threw herself into training and did incredible work in a short amount of time. It got to the point where we started calling her Bruce Lee because she was too fast. We were like, “You have to slow down because we can’t tell that it’s your face. You look like your stunt double because you’re going so quickly. We have to actually catch the move

Finally, Leslye explained that ‘Acolyte’ will have a different approach to storytelling than what we’re used to seeing in similar shows.

One thing to know about the show is that we’ve been talking about it as a mystery-thriller. It is a serialized story, so each episode gives you more information about the story.

In previous interviews, Headland explained that she picked the High Republic for a reason because she wanted to show the Jedi as the height of their powers, as an institution. If your typical Star Wars premise is the underdog versus the institution, in Acolyte, the Jedi Order is supposed to go against the underdog. I have to admit that sounds like an interesting premise, and I can’t wait to see where Headland goes with it.

The show will premiere on June 4 on Disney+ with the first two episodes. Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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