‘It’s One of the Boldest Moves Leslye Headland Could Have Made’ : How ‘The Acolyte’ Premiere Pulled Off Those Two Shocking Reveals

SPOILER WARNING This story mentions major plot developments in the series premiere of “Star Wars The Acolyte,” now streaming on Disney+

Published Time: 05.06.2024 - 07:31:27 Modified Time: 05.06.2024 - 07:31:27

SPOILER WARNING: This story mentions major plot developments in the series premiere of “Star Wars: The Acolyte,” now streaming on Disney+.

The first episode of “Star Wars: The Acolyte” has arrived on Disney+ from a galaxy far, far away, and with its debut comes two major revelations: the shocking death of Jedi Master Indara, played by Carrie-Anne Moss, and the confirmation that the show’s star, Amandla Stenberg, is playing twins. Fans suspected the latter after a recent trailer’s subtitle description labeled Stenberg’s character as Osha, instead of her character’s previously announced name, Mae. But Moss’ death came as a surprise, since the marketing has positioned the actor as one of the show’s leads.

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Stenberg leads the cast as identical twin sisters Mae and Osha. While Mae spent her days repairing intergalactic cargo ships, Osha transformed herself into the ferocious Jedi assassin known as the Acolyte. When Osha tracks down and kills Indara, the blame is put on Mae, who thinks her sister is long dead after a childhood accident.

Director Leslye Headland tells Variety that she courted Moss over “several weeks” for the role of Indara, and emphasizes that the action icon “needed to be involved with the project at any costs.” Regarding Indara’s immediate offing, Headland says her death was the perfect intro for this darker spin on the “Star Wars” universe.

“I thought it was a good tone-setter for the show,” Headland says. “It shows that the Jedis are going to take some losses, and that the good guys and the bad guys are not always who you think they are.”

Stenberg calls the decision “one of the boldest moves that Leslye Headland could have made in our show.” Although deadly adversaries on camera, Moss and Stenberg “got really close” behind the scenes, growing a connection through their spiritual upbringings.

“We actually grew up in the same spiritual community,” Sten -

berg says. “And so in working in ‘Star Wars,’ which is very spiritual, there’s a lot of reflecting that I was doing— especially as I literally confronted myself as my soul was split into two people.”

“Carrie-Anne and I would have a lot of those conversations together,” she continues. “She just really offered me a guiding hand, and doubled down on the importance of taking care of yourself and staying grounded in the middle of this kind of work.”

When asked about playing hero and villain for “The Acolyte,” Stenberg says she knew the challenges of taking two roles “from the jump” after Headland pitched her on the idea in a Los Angeles pizza place. After discussing playing both Osha and Mae at length, Stenberg went home and “wrote backstories for both of them.”

“I thought a lot about the concept of Yin and Yang —because that is such an influential force on the ‘Star Wars’ universe, Eastern philosophy and religion,” Stenberg says. “And these characters are kind of physical manifestations of that.”

Stenberg says Mae is the Ying, describing her as “intuitive and emotive until she operates from a place of emotion.” Osha, naturally, is the Yang, “masculine,” with a “facade that’s holding together a lot of fragility inside.”

“The backstory really helped,” Stenberg adds. “Writing is really important to me, and reading. So being able to read into the psyche of a character, even if I’m writing it myself, is so helpful for me. And I always reference it over and over again.”

Adam B. Vary contributed to this story.

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