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INTERVIEW – Lee Jung-jae and Showrunner Leslye Headland on ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’

Star Wars The Acolyte Interviews

“The High Republic” may be a Star Wars term you’ve heard mentioned often in recent years. First introduced in the 2021 novel Star Wars: Light Of The Jedi by Charles Soule, the High Republic era takes place over one hundred years before the 1999 film The Phantom Menace, and is a time of peace in the Star Wars universe, with the Jedi at the height of their powers.

In the upcoming series Star Wars: The Acolyte, director, writer and showrunner Leslye Headland brings this era to live-action for the first time. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Headland and international superstar Lee Jung-jae, who plays the venerated Jedi Master Sol.

With the era’s literature roots in mind, I asked Headland which of her characters would she love to see dropped into The High Republic books.

“Jecki for sure. I know that she obviously is so young in our series, so it wouldn’t make a total amount of sense for her to be in The High Republic novels. But there’s something about how young she is, that I think she would lend herself really well to the YA novels,” Headland said of the character played by Dafne Keen. “She feels like somebody who has the same amount of energy and also the dedication that you see in the younger Jedi in that period.”  

(L-R): Director Leslye Headland and Lee Jung-jae on the set of Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Director Leslye Headland and Lee Jung-jae on the set of Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

One of the unique elements about The Acolyte that really pops out from the trailers and clips is the fight choreography, which clearly incorporates martial arts elements. The series is very much inspired by martial arts films, so I asked Headland for her recommendations on three films to watch ahead of the series’ release.

“Definitely Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. A really really big influence. Come Drink With Me is a brilliant Shaw Brothers film. I would highly suggest watching that. And then Rashomon for sure. If you haven’t experienced that film, it’s absolutely brilliant and we definitely lift some things from that particular way of storytelling,” Headland said.

POC Culture Interview with Lee Jung-jae and Leslye Headland for Star Wars: The Acolyte

Lee Jung-jae, who is one of the biggest stars in South Korea, and whose fame grew even greater following his memorable performance in Squid Game, enters the Star Wars universe as Master Sol. In The Acolyte, Sol is introduced as one of the most respected Jedi Masters, as well as a beloved teacher.

Lee described the process of landing the part, explaining that when his U.S. agent told him that they were interested in talking to him about Master Sol, he thought they were lying. He shared that even after his agent told him that he beat out several other strong candidates for the role, he couldn’t believe it.

(L-R): Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae and Director Leslye Headland on the set of Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae and Director Leslye Headland on the set of Lucasfilm’s THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Considering Lee’s extensive experience in TV and film, he has worked with numerous talented directors and creators. I asked Lee about how working with Headland was unique.

“I think Leslye is a really great screenwriter. I saw aspects of her genius when it came to developing the web and relationship between characters, to pull out that emotion between the storyline with the characters,” Lee said through a translator. “I think the type of storytelling she does provokes a lot of curiosity. You end up asking questions like, ‘Which direction are these characters going in?’ or ‘What path are they gonna choose?’ and on set, she was able to pull out very nuanced emotion of the characters and also shift and mold the script based on the situations that we were facing on the days of production.”

When concluding my interview, I asked Lee if there are any Star Wars characters he would love for Master Sol to meet, and he quickly replied, Qui-Gon Jinn, which didn’t require any translation.

Watch our full conversations with Lee and Headland. Star Wars: The Acolyte premieres June 04, 2024 on Disney+.

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Jorgie is a Senior Writer at POC Culture and a passionate pop culture fan. Jorgie loves learning about visual effects, production, film, and art, and how they all come together to make films like Star Wars.

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