Star Wars: The High Republic's Vernestra Rwoh Will Be Played By Rebecca Henderson In The Acolyte

There were a lot of book announcements at the "Star Wars Celebration" panel for "The High Republic" today, including new titles by Claudia Gray, Alyssa Wong, and more. Streaming the whole panel on the "Star Wars" livestream, it seemed as though there would be nothing huge announced, and when host Krystina Arielle ended the panel 15 minutes early, everyone was a little confused.

But that's when she brought out Leslye Headland, the showrunner for "The Acolyte." That show is set between the eras of "The High Republic" and the fall of the Jedi era that begins with "The Phantom Menace," so crossovers between what's going on with the publishing initiative would likely have at least some bearing on the live-action project. Headland praised the assembled authors on the stage, saying: 

"When I went in to pitch 'The Acolyte,' because it was a story of mine, and a story of the dark side of the Force, it was important to tell a story when the Jedi were at the height of their power. 'The High Republic' was a no-brainer. We would move the publishing into live action and the live action into George [Lucas'] films. I took it seriously to know the people on this stage put so much thought into building a beautiful publishing initiative, which is how my 'Star Wars' fandom was fed as a kid in the '80s and '90s. What we had was publishing and comic books. It's the legacy of 'Star Wars' for a new generation. To be a part of that, I felt like if I was going to be a part of that world, I was going to have to do it justice."

Then, she made a surprise announcement: she was using Vernestra Rwoh, a character from publishing, as a central character for "The Acolyte."

Another familiar face from Russian Doll

Headland revealed that none other than her own wife, Rebecca Henderson, will be playing the "High Republic" character: "[Vernestra's] journey is the journey of the Jedi on our show, and I couldn't think of a better actor than my wife to play her." 

The two have been married since 2016, and Henderson previously appeared in a supporting role in the Headland-helmed Netflix sci-fi mystery "Russian Doll." She has also played characters in everything from "Orange is the New Black" to "Westworld." 

Henderson isn't the only actor from "Russian Doll" returning for "The Acolyte"; series co-lead Charlie Barnett is also appearing in the "Star Wars" series, in an as-yet-unnamed Jedi knight role. Both Henderson and Barnett appeared on stage during the Lucasfilm Showcase panel on Friday, where the first footage from "The Acolyte" was shown.

Henderson came out on stage again following this announcement, to much applause, and they showed a photograph on screen of Vernestra Rwoh in the show. She's a much older Jedi than in "The High Republic," without hair and with markings on her head, and wearing the golden mission robes of the Jedi that we've been accustomed to seeing in "The High Republic" projects.

Vernestra Rwoh

Vernestra Rwoh is one of the most fascinating characters in "The High Republic" initiative. At 15, she's one of the youngest padawans to ever be knighted as a Jedi and has to struggle with both being a teenager and being a newly minted Jedi knight. Her first appearance was in one of the first books of "The High Republic" — "Test of Courage" by Justina Ireland. She's grown a couple of years over the course of the first phase of "The High Republic" and will presumably be back in the third phase, but it's exciting to know we'll get to see her in "The Acolyte" as well.

Vernestra is a member of the Mirialan species. We don't know a lot about how long-lived they are, but if they have average human lifespans, that might place "The Acolyte" about 20 or 30 years past the fall of Starlight Beacon in "The High Republic."

If you want to learn more about Vernestra Rwoh between now and the release of "The Acolyte," start with the books "Test of Courage" and "Light of the Jedi" and then follow those up "Out of the Shadows" and "Mission to Disaster." They're some of the best of the offerings in "The High Republic".

The crowd erupted in cheers when they heard who was going to make the jump to live action, and it makes sense. This level of synergy between publishing and live action is a result of the new paradigm of story continuity with "Star Wars," and I couldn't be more excited about it.

"The Acolyte" is coming to Disney+ in 2024.