The Acolyte: Showrunner Leslye Headland On The Writing Process

The Acolyte Showrunner Was Inspired By The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: The Acolyte may be the most mysterious of all the upcoming Star Wars streaming projects. The show will be set long before The Phantom Menace, and that means in the visual medium it will become the ‘numero uno’ when it comes to chronological order, for now at least.

We do not know the exact timeline for The Acolyte, but the show is set to provide a link between the High Republic era currently being explored in books, and the era of the Fall of the Republic. The Phantom Menace takes place near the end of that Fall of the Republic period, because 13 years later the Republic has fallen and become the Empire. I think we fans also expect The Acolyte to deal with the Darkside, and the Sith given the name.

Showrunner Leslye Headland has put together a writers room to script the show based on her original pitch. Headland recently had a lengthy interview with The AV Club and here is what she had to say about setting up a writers room for The Acolyte.

Leslye Headland

The Acolyte

“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.”

Finding Talent That Had Never Seen Star Wars

“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…?” [Laughs.] 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?”

“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.”

Creating A Team

“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.”

“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.”

RELATED: The Bad Batch Settles A Star Wars Debate Or Does It?

Interesting for sure. I have no strong opinions either way until I see, or hear more about the show for myself. For the moment, that seems unlikely, I think it could e a while before we hear  any solid details around Star Wars: The Acolyte.

Are you excited to see what Headland can come up with for Star Wars: The Acolyte, as always, leave any thoughts below.

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Campbell Clark

Cam is Senior Editor at LRM Online, and has a passion for all things geeky, including sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book movies.

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