Why Lucasfilm Hired Writer With No Knowledge Of Star Wars For The Acolyte Series

Disney has started its post-Skywalker Saga Star Wars era with The Mandalorian. Excitement has been building among fans ever since Lucasfilms President Kathleen Kennedy officially announced a huge slate of Star Wars Disney+ shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka, alongside exclusively theatrical movies like Rogue Squadron directed by Patty Jenkins.    

One of the streaming Star Wars projects that Lucasfilms will air on Disney+ in 2022 is called The Acolyte. As per official reports, the show is going to dive into the latter years of the Star Wars: High Republic era. 

Its primary focus is going to be on the Siths and the threats they pose. The show is also set to explore the powers of those who fell to the dark side and how that would be prevalent even after hundreds of years. 

Leslye Headland is set to helm the upcoming series by acting as its writer, executive producer, and showrunner. So she will be juggling a lot of roles. Recently, Headland talked about her writer’s room and how she is deliberately trying to have a room with varied opinions. 

This means that there’s a writer who hasn’t watched even a single Star Wars movie. 

Leslye Headland Hires Writer Who Hasn’t Watched Any Star Wars Movie

In an interview with A.V. Club, Leslye Headland talked about the process she followed for hiring the writers who will be accompanying her on this galactic journey. 

She mentioned that she was actively looking for people who were different from her. This is because she didn’t want a team that was just agreeing with whatever she said. Here is her full quote on the matter: 

“First of all, I really wanted people that were different than me. I certainly didnt 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 havent had this experience yet, and because I think its weird that I havent had this experience yet.

Headland also said that when she was assembling her writer’s room, she tried to find people who would challenge her POV. She also revealed that she was searching for people who she thought could write a great script. Explaining this she said: 

“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 further revealed the kind of people who were on her writing staff. She said that one them has never seen a single Star Wars media before. In the quote she said: 

“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 knew that hiring someone who hadn’t watched any Star Wars media would raise eyebrows. But she says that this writer did the needed research and were deserving of the job. She said: 

“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 later described that she wanted people in her team who wouldn’t automatically agree with whatever she said: 

“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 showrunner ended by saying that she was a huge fan of Star Wars and knew all the nitty-gritties of it. 

“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.”

The Acolyte Will Benefit From Diversity In The Writer’s Room

All this information is making The Acolyte more promising. Headland’s comments about putting together a diverse team show that she is trying to make a unique show that is nothing like we have seen before in the Star Wars galaxy. This is something that should make every Star Wars fan excited. 

Know that there are still mixed views about the prequel trilogy among the general audience. But it’s more leaning into the positive than the negative nowadays. However, we all know that the prequel trilogy wouldn’t be in this position if only George Lucas’s writing team had stepped up and told him that his story direction wasn’t fit for the story. 

But it looks like Headland isn’t going to face that problem since there are people in her team who will voice whether her ideas are great for the story or not. Not to mention the fact that she will get more viewpoints to mull over since everyone from superfans of Star Wars to people who haven’t seen a single Star Wars media are in her writer’s room. 

We would like to mention how encouraging it was to hear that she can handle constructive criticism. This is because in this industry many content creators and writers think that only their opinions work and that nobody else’s matters. But that’s not the truth and there have been many projects that have been tanked due to such ego. 

Thankfully, right now it looks like The Acolyte is not going to face that problem. Instead, we feel like the show will please both the hardcore fans of Star Wars and those who are watching any Star Wars media for the very first time. 

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