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Star Wars: The Acolyte promises wuxia action and a Wookiee Jedi master in 2024

High Republic setting has ‘lots of Jedi’ and ‘outnumbered’ bad guys

Leslye Headland, Amandla Stenberg, and Lee Jung-jae stand on the set of Star Wars: The Acolyte Photo: Christian Black / Lucasfilm Ltd.

The High Republic is Star Wars’ newest time period and up until now, we’ve only really gotten to explore it through books. Thankfully, the first look at Star Wars: The Acolyte, a crime series set toward the end of the Republic’s brightest days, during Star Wars Celebration 2023 is here to fix that. This first look also revealed that The Acolyte is set for release in 2024 and will stream on Disney Plus.

Creator Leslye Headland (Russian Doll) and the series cast introduced some footage from the show for the convention audience which foregrounded the “lots of Jedi” that Headland said was one of the most attractive features of the High Republic era for her as a creator. The footage also emphasized The Acolyte’s wuxia-style martial arts combat, reminiscent of films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. One crowd-pleasing shot had seven Jedi, led by Lee Jung-jae’s character, unsheathing their lightsabers in unison.

Headland said that, in designing the show, she had gone back to George Lucas’ original inspirations for Star Wars, including Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress and Yojimbo, but also classic Shaw Brothers kung fu movies like Come Drink With Me and Touch of Zen.

“I really wanted to delve into the Star Wars universe and tell the story of this world I love so much from the perspective of the bad guys... So what I pitched to Kathleen [Kennedy, Lucasfilm president] was Frozen meets Kill Bill,” Headland said. “What became apparent was that we were going to have to set this between the High Republic and the prequels - because this is when the bad guys were outnumbered.” It’s the furthest back in the Star Wars timeline that we’ve ever been in live action, Headland confirmed.

Headland — a fan since youth, who used to write Star Wars fan fiction — said it had always been her dream to have a Wookiee Jedi master, and she was walked out on stage by the character in costume. The Wookiee is called Kelnaka and is played by current Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo.

The Acolyte will wrap shooting in London in May ahead of its 2024 release on Disney Plus.

Star Wars: The Acolyte stars Amandla Stenberg, Dafne Keen (Logan), Lee Jung-jae (Squid Game), and Manny Jacinto (The Good Place). The series was first announced in 2020, before the High Republic had even been debuted within Star Wars canon. Since then, the novels and comics have delved into the period, but this series will be the first time we’ve seen this era in live-action.

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