Why The New Star Wars Series The Acolyte Is Set During The High Republic Era

In the aftermath of the sequel trilogy's conclusion, recent entries in the "Star Wars" franchise have remained firmly (some might say "stubbornly") set in the time period surrounding either the original or prequel trilogies. Rather than move confidently forward beyond the scope of "The Rise of Skywalker" and tell brand-new stories with brand-new characters and no safety net in the form of George Lucas' prior ideas (many of which were borrowed heavily for the sequel trilogy overall, mind you), the powers that be have seen fit to double back towards the comfort of familiar iconography. Shows centered on the Mandalorian, Boba Fett, Ahsoka Tano, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and even Cassian Andor (to name just a few) all collectively indicate the overall direction of the universe these days — one that's looking squarely in the rearview mirror.

And then there's the secrecy surrounding "The Acolyte." In the interest of full transparency, this is yet another planned streaming series that will be set in the past ... but at least it's so far back that the creative team will be forced to innovate, coming up with fresh characters and never-before-seen storylines. At this point, we'll take it! 

Vanity Fair has unveiled a batch of fresh details about the series, with showrunner Leslye Headland ("Sleeping with Other People," "SMILF," "Russian Doll") finally shining some light on the story that, to this point, we only ever knew would be set during the newly-christened High Republic era.

Original stories! What a concept!

In the wide-ranging interview with Vanity Fair, Headland addresses the surprising setting for "The Acolyte" and the motivation behind telling stories from out of the distant "Star Wars" past.

"The truth is that I, as a major mega fan, came to them with this idea. And I said, 'I think the best place to put this is in an era you guys have not quite explored yet.' They were very enthusiastic. It wasn't that they didn't want to explore that [existing] world, but I think that they already were because 'The Mandalorian' and a lot of the other television projects were really relying on legacy characters."

Headland certainly has the nerd-cred to back up her involvement in the show, referencing the old Expanded Universe material during its heyday in the '90s and how she became a fan of the animated "The Clone Wars" series. But more than simply zigging where other "Star Wars" media has zagged, Headland specifically looked to the High Republic era because of its narrative potential. "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," she said. "When they actually are essentially the underdogs, for lack of a better term."

Honestly, the fact that a talented and opinionated filmmaker approached Lucasfilm — and not the other way around — is more than enough to get me interested in this project. 

There's no inkling of a release date for "The Acolyte" just yet, but we'll be keeping a close eye on this one.