The Acolyte: Carrie-Anne Moss Talks Jedi Master Indara, Star Wars Spirituality, And Lightsaber Duels

The Acolyte

by Ben Travis |
Published on

Imagine if Trinity from The Matrix had Force powers. That, effectively, was the genesis for Jedi Master Indara in The Acolyte – a character who, according to series creator Leslye Headland, is the best of the best, and able to pull gravity-defying tricks out of the bag in the middle of combat. Hence, the obvious choice was to cast Trinity herself, Carrie-Anne Moss. As it turned out, Moss would have much to learn from entering the Star Wars galaxy too.

Empire sat down with Moss to get to know Master Indara – discussing Jedi spirituality, the importance of nailing a lightsaber fight, the thematic connections between Star Wars and The Matrix, and how difficult it is to fight in a Jedi robe.

EMPIRE: What was your reaction when you got the call for Star Wars?

CARRIE-ANNE MOSS: Oh, it was such an exciting call to get. Actually, my husband and my children watch all the Star Wars shows. They're watching it, and I'm carrying a bunch of clothes upstairs to put in people's closets. My husband calls out, ‘You should be on one of these shows!’ And literally two weeks later, I got the call.

No way!

I was like, ‘You're kidding me!’ Leslye pitched it to me. I had watched her show Russian Doll, knew her artistry, was blown away by her vision and her ability to execute. I was like, ‘I’m all-in. When do I start?’ I was absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to add Star Wars to my resume. My personal resume – I don't even mean the paper one. Within my soul and my spirit, to get to play this Jedi Master and train for the fight was [an] amazing experience. I really awakened, actually, a part of me that forgot how much I love action. I love it. I personally love being challenged. It's a physical challenge, but it's a mental challenge too. It helps you get into that world of the Jedi Master, with the mind-training.

I had three or four weeks to train, which isn't very long, and the first couple of weeks you're like, ‘I’m never gonna get this.’ And then all of a sudden it starts to click, and then you're on set. Shooting it is always easier than the training – you get the adrenaline, the costume, the world is there. I was really thrilled that I could do it, and that I loved it, and that I wanted to do it well. ‘Gimme another take! Gimme another take!’

The Acolyte

What was Leslye’s pitch to you? What hooked you in?

It was really when she described the story within the fight – because a good fight has a story. I love understanding the arc of a fight. When she described it to me, I was like, ‘I wanna be her. I wanna be in those shoes and discover that.’ Talking to [Leslye], she's so creative, able to articulate her vision very clearly. You feel that way occasionally, where you have someone that has created a story – when you talk to them, you know right away. I felt that a few times in my career with some of the big things that I've done: Memento, The Matrix. You're talking to the filmmaker and just go, ‘Oh, they totally get it.’ They know it so well that I trust them. And you don't always feel that – it's kinda rare actually. It's a pleasure to sign on and be a part of that.

What can you tell me about Jedi Master Indara?

We meet her in a mysterious way, and initially through a very powerful fight. She's very physically strong, she's very mentally strong. I loved a lot of things about her. But [particularly] the containment. I love that word. I love words. And that word, ‘containment’ – even just saying it, I can feel what I had to access to play her. You're fighting against so much to keep it right here [gestures to her centre], but also to have the power. When you have power through containment, that's my sweet spot. This was, I think, one of the most contained characters I've ever played.

"I loved it more than I can remember loving doing something in a long time."

It’s a very Jedi thing, that centredness. Did you immerse yourself in Star Wars once you got the part?

I mean, I've always deeply respected the Star Wars world. As a child, I went to the movies in the movie theatre. I hadn't been watching all of the shows – I don't really watch all that much TV. But my respect [for Star Wars] is off the charts for it. I got the opportunity to talk to [Pablo Hidalgo] – he knows every single thing about the universe. I'm a very big reader of spiritual text, the dark and the light – I didn't actually understand that all of this metaphysical journey that I've been on my adult life, since I was 25, was reflected in Star Wars. My entry in was through my own interest of metaphysics and spirituality. Seeing it reflected in this story – the hero's journey and all of that – I have goosebumps just thinking about it. I'm very ignited by that.

I love, at this phase of my career, being surprised. Being surprised at the depth of the world. The depth of being a Jedi. The rules. And yet, bringing my own self into that. Not playing the idea of the Jedi. How do I, Carrie-Anne, playing this role, bring all of my heart, spirit, soul, experience into this person? I didn't realise that I was as prepared from my own personal exploration for the role.

There's a lot of common ground between Star Wars and The Matrix – the philosophical and spiritual elements, the fight against fascism. How soon after The Matrix Resurrections did The Acolyte come up? Was there any crossover?

It didn't cross over – I think it was a couple of years later. I wrapped this a year ago. I shot [The Acolyte] for three months, including the training. So I was deep in it for three months. [Resurrections] had cooled off, and was in the rear-view mirror for sure.

The Acolyte

What was it like bringing a bit of Star Wars into the martial arts world? Did it help, having played Trinity again recently in Resurrections?

Yeah, I think all of my history of learning to fight and- This was very different though, because I was by myself. I had always done [The Matrix] with my co-stars, and there's a certain energy. [On The Acolyte] I was on my own, with my team, which was great because I got to ignite and access a part of myself. I was like, ‘I want to do everything.’ I loved it more than I can remember loving doing something in a long time. ‘I’m strong. I can learn this. I can show up, and I can find that containment.’ With fighting, it's very hard for me not to make faces – to constantly bring it back in, where it's almost effortless. It looks effortless, and yet it's not. [laughs] That was fun to play with. I told Leslye, ‘I do not want to be making a lot of faces. I want it to be right.’

What's it like fighting in Jedi robes? Is that tricky?

It was tricky. My physical blocks actually came from the costume. It's really important to practice in the costumes. They're heavy. There was a boning in the bodice – actually the costume injured me the most, because I didn't have any movement in a certain area of my back, in my shoulders. That was something I had to do a lot of recovery with. The costume gives you the character. It definitely gave the image, but to actually be free within the fighting, it was a challenge. Between action and cut, you go into this zone – it's only when you go back to your hotel room, you're like, ‘Oh my gosh. This is really hurting.’

Tell me about your lightsaber. Is there any part of the design that you particularly like?

The lightsaber was really important to me. I felt like a little kid who just wanted to do it so right. I could have almost cried. I don't usually feel that way. I had to say to everybody, ‘I want to get this so right, that I may have to make some mistakes first.’ The weight on my shoulders – and on my heart – that I felt to do the lightsaber well was something I didn't expect. Like, ‘If this is not great, I'm really gonna cry.’ So I practised a lot in my hotel with a broomstick. I think we did end up reshooting that, actually. I said to Leslye, ‘Let's just keep shooting. It has to be great. You have to promise me that we'll keep doing it [if it isn't right].’ It's much more challenging than it looks. Making it look effortless – like I could just do it in my sleep – was the most stressful moment I had in the whole thing.

The Acolyte streams on Disney+ from 5 June

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