When George Lucas sold his multi-billion dollar Star Wars franchise to Disney in 2012, he had no idea where the new buyers would take the saga.
In 1975, he began writing a draft for what would eventually become Star Wars when it was released in 1977, the film that is now known as A New Hope. For 37 years, until he sold the company, Lucas poured his life into making the sci-fi series that is now beloved by so many.
As Disney is coming up on their 10th anniversary of owning Star Wars, the studio has already officially released five theatrical films along with multiple TV series. Within the past year, they have also announced a slew of upcoming movies as well as many shows that will air on their newly established Disney+ streaming service.
One of these upcoming shows that has caught many fans' eyes since its announcement is The Acolyte. Little is known about this series, but officials have said that it will explore the strong emergence of the Sith during the end of the High Republic.
The Acolyte, along with every project that Disney announces in the Star Wars franchise, has raised questions from fans about whether it will stay true to Lucas' vision that he established when he owned the company.
The show's showrunner, executive producer, and writer Leslye Headland has recently revealed her thought process on the matter. In doing so, she answered the question of how much inspiration she will take from Lucas in her upcoming series, particularly when it comes to politics.
WILL GEORGE LUCAS INFLUENCE THE ACOLYTE?
In a recent interview with the A.V. Club, Leslye Headland of The Acolyte sat down and discussed how George Lucas has influenced her and her Star Wars series, saying that she will be "following in George's footsteps," as well as "taking inspiration" from him:
"We’re all just following in George’s footsteps. He is such a deep worshiper of film, and not just the medium of film, but the history of film and the way film has been used, and all the different genres that he infused the original trilogy with is something that only he can do. He was such a believer of “film as tone poem,” that it only makes sense that people who are doing their own side stories or their own series or their own standalones. It makes sense that they’re kind of taking one aspect that he may have been interested in, or are taking inspiration from and infusing it into their particular content."
Headland also mentioned that when watching the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, viewers can "pick out all the different references" that Lucas had, praising how he must be a "dogged admirer and ardent devotee" to film history to find so many references:
"When you watch his original trilogy, you can kind of pick out all the different references, all the different things that he pulled from. And then there’s the kind of gestalt of how everything comes together and is so much greater than just the reference, which is what kind of ended up happening in the ’90s. There were all these references being made and recognized. It’s the same with being online—we’ve either seen a clip of it or we’ve seen the movie. Whereas, someone like George, he had to be a dogged admirer and ardent devotee to the art of cinema, in order to be cherry-picking the way that he did."
Finally, Headland alluded to if politics will be incorporated into The Acolyte, revealing that fans have warned her to not "make Star Wars political," along with her rebuttal that "George Lucas made it political," saying:
"In a way, that’s why that ends up happening. I don’t know for sure, but if I had to take a guess as to why the standalones and the series ended up feeling like we’re going to move just into this particular space or we’re going to lean into this particular genre, which we know inspired George. And that goes for ideology as well. I mean, it’s funny, because a lot of the feedback that I’ll get—and I use the term feedback very lightly—but when I do go on social media, the feedback is “Don’t make Star Wars political.” I’m like, “George Lucas made it political. Those are political films.” War is, by nature, political. That’s just what’s up. It’s truly what he was interested in talking about and looking at and digging into. So it’s kind of impossible to tell a story within his universe that doesn’t have to do with something that has to be that the characters see externally reflected in whatever’s happening in the galaxy at that particular time period of when it takes place. You know? That’s another thing that we all kind of inherited from him as well, and hope to kind of keep reflecting in the work, hopefully."
HOW POLITICS WILL BE IN THE ACOLYTE
Headland's comments offer some fascinating insight into what she plans to do with her series.
First of all, it is encouraging to see that she is taking such strong inspiration from Lucas' Star Wars films. It is clear that she, just like the Star Wars community, is a fan of what Lucas created in 1977.
By saying that they are "following in George's footsteps," it is obvious that she wants The Acolyte to stay true to Lucas' vision and the themes that he presented in his films, which is important so that the franchise will feel like one coherent story.
If a writer or a showrunner tries to stray too far away from the original work, that creates a final product that isn't consistent. At the same time, it is important that creators have the ability to add their own influences to their work.
As far as Headland's comments on politics go, she is correct that Lucas used politics as a cornerstone of his story. Star Wars is famously known for showing the political grasp that the Galactic Empire had over the galaxy, and how a band of rebels that didn't agree with those politics chose to fight it.
Headland is also correct that "War is, by nature, political," and it can be agreed upon that she is also right by saying "it’s kind of impossible to tell a story within his universe" that isn't about a group of people responding to politics within the galaxy.