Star Wars’ The Acolyte Begins The Fall Of The Jedi: ‘The Writing May Be On The Wall’ – Exclusive

The Acolyte – exclusive

by Ben Travis |
Published on

It’s long been a part of the Star Wars mythos, but something rarely depicted in live-action: go back before Order 66 and the events of the prequels, and the galaxy was once flooded with Jedi. The sight of lightsaber-wielders moving en masse was a major moment at the end of Episode II – Attack Of The Clones – but given that Palpatine and a nascent Vader bumped all the other Jedi off shortly after, it’s rarely been seen again. The Acolyte, though, is set to deliver exactly that – the new Star Wars series, from an original idea by Russian Doll creator Leslye Headland, is set 100 years before The Phantom Menace, at the end of the largely-peaceful High Republic era. And it’s a time simply stacked with Jedi.

Which in itself begs a bigger, overarching Star Wars question: if the Jedi were once flourishing and all-powerful, how did they let it slip so badly by the time of the Skywalker Saga, when Darth Sidious violently takes over? That’s part of the big picture at play in The Acolyte. “I was very interested in, how did the Jedi get to where they are in Phantom Menace?” Headland tells Empire in our world-exclusive cover feature. “You’re definitely getting a sense that, with the Jedi, the writing may be on the wall.” With the Jedi firmly in charge, The Acolyte’s early flickers of a looming dark side threat offers a new kind of Star Wars dynamic. “The quote-unquote ‘war’ of this Star Wars is a much smaller, more personal one,” notes Headland. “The war between people, the war between characters.”

Those people include Lee Jung-jae’s Jedi Master Sol (“Massively respected and incredibly powerful,” per Headland); his Padawan, Dafne Keen’s Jecki (“She wants to be perfect for him,” Keen says); Charlie Barnett’s Jedi Knight Yord (“He’s kind of a jerk! He’s a little bit of a goody two-shoes,” admits Barnett); and Joonas Suotamo’s Wookiee Jedi, Kelnacca (“Another Star Wars dream come true,” says the actor). Not to mention, Carrie-Anne Moss as the combat-ready Master Indara, and Rebecca Henderson as an older incarnation of High Republic fan-favourite Vernestra Rwoh.

Together, they’ll be pulled into a mystery of murdered Jedi and rising darkness. “It’s one story with several reveals, and new clues and new information each episode,” Headland explains. “It’s not just a mystery that you have to find out. It’s not unlike Russian Doll. It’s almost like a spiral — it digs deeper and deeper and deeper.” For Lee, taking his first steps into Hollywood post-Squid Game, it’s that genre twist that’ll hook audiences most. “It’s going to get even more intriguing and gripping, because of that detective genre,” he promises. “It’s going to keep you on the edge of your toes, wanting to guess.” Will it be a return of the Jedi? Or a revenge of the Sith? Start lining up those suspects…

Empire – The Acolyte – June 2024 issue newsstand cover

Read Empire’s full The Acolyte cover feature – going deep on Star Wars’ boldest streaming series yet, speaking to creator Leslye Headland and stars Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joonas Suotamo, Dafne Keen, Charlie Barnett, Rebecca Henderson, Manny Jacinto and Jodie Turner-Smith – in the June 2024 issue, on sale Thursday 11 April. Order a copy online here. The Acolyte streams on Disney+ in the UK from 5 June.

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