Leslye Headland is best known for directing raunchy comedies “Bachelorette” and “Sleeping with Other People” and for co-creating Netflix’s “Russian Doll,” which makes her an invigorating and unconventional-on-paper choice to serve as showrunner of a “Star Wars” television series. Headland is behind “Star Wars: The Acolyte,” which Disney confirmed last December as part of its “Star Wars” streaming series expansion. Not much is known about the series other than it being set during the final days of the High Republic, an era which pre-dates George Lucas’ original “Star Wars.” With the setting not so beholden to the Skywalker saga, Headland could take more risks with her writers’ room.
“Mostly what I looked for were people that I felt could execute a great script, number one,” Headland recently told AV Club about finding writers for her “Star Wars” series. “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.”
Headland did not want a “Star Wars’ writers’ room full of “Star Wars” die-hard fans. It was important to mix writers with different connections to the franchise, as she explained: “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…?’ [Laughs.]”
For Headland, writers unfamiliar with “Star Wars” were only a plus. “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?” 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 continued. “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.”
“Star Wars: The Acolyte” will premiere on Disney+ but there’s no official release date yet. Head over to AV Club’s website to read Headline’s new interview in its entirety.