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Star Wars: The Acolyte takes inspiration from Wuxia martial arts films

Although I’m looking forward to all Lucasfilm’s upcoming Star Wars projects, most revolve around characters we’re already quite familiar with. That’s why I’m so excited for The Acolyte, an upcoming Star Wars series from Leslye Headland (Russian Doll) that takes place during the High Republic era, a golden age for the Jedi that hasn’t been explored in live-action.

It’s no secret that George Lucas was inspired by Westerns and Akira Kurosawa samurai movies when he created Star Wars, and Leslye Headland told Vanity Fair that she went down the same path, focusing more on the Wuxia films from King Hu and the Shaw Brothers.

Jon Favreau said that when you’re working in this world, you want to go back to what George was inspired by. There were Westerns and then of course, Akira Kurosawa samurai films, and the fact that he originally offered Obi-Wan Kenobi to Toshiro Mifune …So I actually went more toward martial arts films, and storylines that are a little bit more personal and less global and galactic. Those warriors were on missions that were deeply personal, with people feeling wronged and having to make it right. Wuxia films and martial arts films from King Hu and the Shaw Brothers, like Come Drink With Me and Touch Of Zen. They’re monks that are also martial arts heroes.

When Leslye Headland was asked to explain the era of the High Republic and why she chose it, she said, “The way I would explain the High Republic, and specifically where my show takes place, is that I’m about 100 years before The Phantom Menace. So, a lot of those characters haven’t even been born yet.” When Headland watched The Phantom Menace, she couldn’t help but wonder how things got to that point. “Do you know what I mean?” Headland said. “How did we get to where a Sith lord can infiltrate the Senate and none of the Jedi pick up on it? What went wrong? What are the scenarios that led us to this moment? So that’s what I would say. That’s how I would describe it to my friends, especially my non-Star Wars friends.

Star Wars: The Acolyte is described as a “mystery thriller that will take us into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging Dark Side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.” It’s said the series will revolve around Dark Side characters, with Amandla Stenberg said to be in talks to star. “I think if you want to explore Star Wars from the perspective of the bad guys, the best time to do it is when the bad guys are wildly outnumbered,” Headland teased. “When they actually are essentially the underdogs, for lack of a better term.” The next Star Wars series will be Obi-Wan Kenobi, which will debut on Disney+ on May 27th.


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