Star Wars: The Acolyte: Release date, cast, plot for the Disney+ series
A new Star Wars series is coming, but what do we know about The Acolyte, the High Republic era, and events 100 years before The Phantom Menace?
New Disney+ series Star Wars: The Acolyte will explore an untapped region of the franchise by taking us back to the heyday of the Jedi Order.
We’re facing a new dawn in the galaxy far, far away, as it’s no longer just the Skywalker Saga that holds up the sci-fi staple. The gold-covered High Republic era has been explored in novels, but alongside Quantic Dreams’ upcoming Star Wars Eclipse video game, The Acolyte lets us into the Jedi Order’s most prosperous chapter.
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With a new story to tell and a typically all-star cast, here’s everything you need to know about Star Wars: The Acolyte release date, cast, plot, and more.
The Acolyte release date
The Acolyte is on course for a 2024 release date, expecting to follow in the footsteps of other shows like The Mandalorian and Ahsoka by airing weekly on Disney+.
At the 2019 premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Variety asked Russian Doll’s Leslye Headland whether she’d like to explore the High Republic era of Star Wars. Headland said she’d jump at the chance if Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy let her, and by Star Wars Day 2020, she was announced as the showrunner and writer of a female-centric Star Wars series.
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The series was later confirmed as The Acolyte, with Headland serving as showrunner, writer, and executive producer on the eight-episode series. Other directors include The Witcher’s Alex Garcia Lopez and South Korean-born American filmmaker, Kogonada.
Principal photography took place using the StageCraft Volume technology made famous by The Mandalorian, while additional filming started in Portugal around March 2023.
The Acolyte cast
Heading up The Acolyte is The Hunger Games’ Amandla Stenberg, who has come a long way from playing the tragic Rue in 2012’s first movie. Stenberg appeared alongside the rest of the cast at Star Wars Celebration 2023, but so far, we only know she’s playing a former Padawan.
Footage aired at the celebration honed in on The Matrix’s Carrie-Anne Moss using Force powers, confirming she’s some form of Jedi. We know slightly more about who Rebecca Henderson will be playing, with the Russian Doll alumni confirmed as Vernestra Rwoh. The character was created for 2021’s The High Republic: A Test of Courage novel and is the youngest Jedi to achieve the rank of Jedi Master.
Elsewhere, Squid Game's Lee Jung-jae is an unnamed Jedi Master, who will be joining Logan’s Dafne Keen and Russian Doll’s Charlie Barnett as young Jedi. Rounding off the cast, there are mystery roles for The Good Place’s Manny Jacinto, Revenge’s Margarita Levieva, Games of Thrones’ Dean-Charles Chapman, and Murder Mystery 2’s Jodie Turner-Smith.
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There’s a familiar face in the form of Solo: A Star Wars Story’s Joonas Suotamo. Although he’s not reprising his role as Chewbacca, it looks like he’ll be playing a much-hyped Jedi Wookiee.
The Acolyte’s unique place around 100 years before the events of The Phantom Menace makes a cameo from a certain Master Yoda possible, although everyone is staying tight-lipped on that one.
The Acolyte plot
The Acolyte takes place at an exciting point in the Star Wars timeline, and if you weren’t already stoked for its arrival, Headland told fans at SWC 2023 how she pitched it as “Frozen meets Kill Bill” to Kennedy. The official synopsis (via Deadline) talks about a former Padawan reuniting with her Jedi Master to solve a series of crimes, which sounds a lot like CSI: Coruscant.
Despite all the Jedi castings, The Acolyte is rumoured to be the franchise’s first Sith-centric outing. The name hints at this, as while training Jedi are referred to as Padawans, the Sith equivalent is an Acolyte. Either way, Headland says the series takes place during a time “the bad guys are outnumbered.”
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Obviously, The Acolyte’s setting 100 years before The Phantom Menace takes us further back than we’ve been before — until we get James Mangold’s Jedi origin movie.
Explaining why The Acolyte is something of an Episode I prequel, Headland told Vanity Fair, “My question in watching The Phantom Menace was always like, ‘Well, how did things get to this point?’ How did we get to where a Sith lord can infiltrate the Senate and none of the Jedi pick up on it?”
Headland has been heavily inspired by the nixed Expanded Universe of Legends canon, which was largely made redundant when Disney bought Star Wars in 2012. Then again, we’ve seen the likes of Boba Fett’s survival, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and even Palpatine’s resurrection (love it or loathe it) brought back into mainline canon, meaning this is an exciting time for fans of the old ways.
In the Vanity Fair interview, Headland described this period as an “age of wealth and innovation for the galaxy, with white-clad Jedi inspiring awe and the dark side of the Force seemingly erased from existence.” We all know how that goes, with Headland saying she was drawn to the idea of who was practising the dark side at this time.
Stenberg shed some light on what to expect, warning Collider how the Jedi might not be the heroes we think of them as: “What does it look like when the Jedi have complete, unchecked power? What are their relationships like to government institutions, you know? And people who have issues with their power, what are they like?"
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The High Republic era has been growing since its inception in 2021, and with the third phase (Trials of the Jedi) kicking off in November 2023 with George Mann's The Eye of Darkness, there’s plenty of reading to catch up on before Star Wars: The Acolyte releases.
With an all-star cast and new lore to explore, Headland’s series will surely make up for the fumbles of George Lucas’ prequels.
The Acolyte will stream exclusively on Disney+.