As Disney ushers in its post-Skywalker Saga era of the Star Wars franchise, many eyes are on the horizon for what is to come.
Excitement has been boiling over for many months since Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy officially announced that the company would be releasing a massive haul of shows on the Disney+ streaming service, such as Ahsoka and Obi-Wan Kenobi, along with theatrical film releases like Patty Jenkins' Rogue Squadron.
One of the upcoming projects that Lucasfilm has set to air in the coming years is The Acolyte. According to official reports, The Acolyte will explore the latter years of the High Republic era of Star Wars, mainly focusing on the upcoming major threat that the Sith pose as well as their dark side powers that would be present in hundreds of years to come.
Leslye Headland will be at the helm of the upcoming series, serving as the show's showrunner, executive producer, and writer. Headland has already revealed her thoughts on how she is taking inspiration from George Lucas while writing as well as how she views the political aspects of the franchise.
As Headland reveals more about what is to come in The Acolyte, she recently talked about her writers' room, specifically how she aspires to hire a team with diverse opinions. This includes one writer who has never even seen a Star Wars film.
ACOLYTE WRITER WHO HASN'T SEEN STAR WARS
In a recent interview with A.V. Club, Leslye Headland discussed the process she went through when hiring her writers' room for the upcoming Disney+ series The Acolyte.
In the report, she mentioned that it was extremely important for her to find people "different" than her, saying that she didn't want a team that "were just agreeing" with her ideas:
"First of all, I really wanted people that were different than me. I certainly didn’t want a room full people that were just agreeing with me vehemently. Not ideologically, but artistically—people that kind of had different writing styles or were interested in different things, all that kind of stuff. But there was a certain intention, in terms of putting together a room that I felt like were people that I hadn’t been in a room with before, if that makes sense. I don’t think I can go much further into that, but like, “Oh, I haven’t had this experience yet, and because I think it’s weird that I haven’t had this experience yet.”
Headland also disclosed that when putting together her writers' room, she aimed to find people that would "challenge (her) artistic POV" and mainly just searched for people that she thought "could execute a great script:"
"Having worked in this industry for over a decade now and having been in a couple of writers’ rooms, I felt like the demographic breakdown of rooms, it’s not something you actively take into consideration. For example, on Russian Doll, we ended up having an all-female writers’ room, but I don’t know if that was really something that we said at the front: “We were only going to hire women.” I think when you have a dictate like that, you’re closing your mind to, again, people that are going to challenge your particular artistic POV. Mostly what I looked for were people that I felt could execute a great script, number one. 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."
The showrunner continued by revealing the different types of people that she has on her writing staff, telling the public that she hired writers that mimicked her "later-in-life [Dave] Filoni acolyte" level of fandom as well as a writer who has "never seen any Star Wars media:"
"What I also learned about hiring my room is that everyone’s fandom was very different. No one had the same experience with Star Wars. There were people like myself that were like later-in-life [Dave] Filoni acolytes. 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…?” And it was so great, because I would really love to know from someone who is not fully immersed in this fandom, what do you think about the pitch we just made?"
Headland elaborated that this specific writer "did her due diligence" with her work and also explained that they could get different "feedback" on what they should do next:
"So while she did her due diligence and did a lot of background work and research, at the same time, she was somebody that we would kind of talk to and say, “Okay, so if we take all the kind of signifiers out of it, and this is Star Wars version of X, what does it mean to you?” She would be able to give some feedback: “Well, I’m kind of wondering what’s going on with this character. And in this scene, I’m wondering why so-and-so isn’t saying this.”
Headland also described "what (she) really wanted" behind the scenes of The Acolyte, saying that she didn't want a room of people that "just automatically agree with what (she) say(s):"
"So that was what I really wanted—an active conversation between my writers and myself, and not so much a room full of people that would kind of just automatically agree with what I say. Which is good sometimes; sometimes it’s nice to have everybody love my pitch. It’s not Star Wars, but I think a lot about [Jean-Luc] Picard, and the way that he would utilize his crew and say, “What do you guys think? Any suggestions? What should we do next?” And kind of hearing the debates and the sort of Socratic conversation that would result. I wanted to put the room together in that way."
The executive producer ended by professing her deep knowledge of the franchise, revealing that she is a "die-hard, cutthroat fan:"
"That also means hiring people that are not necessarily the die-hard, cutthroat fan that I am when it comes to Star Wars stuff. It is weird to be the person who’s going, “Well, in 325 BBY,” and everyone’s like, “What are you talking about?” “Hold on, I’ll send you a link.” Everyone’s like, “Should that be another person that’s doing that? Why is the showrunner doing that?” And I’m like, “Here’s a picture, this is what he looks like.”
WHY THE ACOLYTE'S DIVERSE TEAM IS WONDERFUL
The more that Headland reveals about The Acolyte, the more promising the series becomes.
Her comments on putting together such a diverse team to write the show are something every fan can be excited about.
While the prequel trilogy is generally well-received by the public now, it is clear that all three films have some problems. The issues that most viewers come up with when watching these movies can be directly tied to the creative team not stepping up and telling creator George Lucas that some of the decisions he was making were not good ones.
With Headland putting together a writers' room of people who range from loving Star Wars all the way down to a person who had never seen any piece of Star Wars media before joining the writing team, she can achieve so many viewpoints on what direction each episode in the show should go.
It is also extremely encouraging to hear her admit that she can take constructive criticism. Many writers and content creators believe that their opinions are the best and that nobody else's matters, which is far from the truth.
The diversity of Headland's writers' room can lead viewers to expect a series that will be pleasing to all fans of Star Wars, both hardcore fanatics and people getting into the vast, wonderful world of Star Wars for the first time.