Star Wars: The Acolyte Cast Tease Epic Lightsaber Battles On-Par With Episode 1

"Star Wars" is about to enter a new era with "The Acolyte." 

Perhaps the most compelling component of the "Star Wars" universe is how expansive it is. Each corner of the galaxy is brimming with diversity and possibility. And no matter where you are in the timeline, there's always something interesting to discover. A majority of the franchise is occupied with exploring the 70-year stretch of time that the "Skywalker Saga" spans, and very rarely do fans get to see what the world was like before Anakin Skywalker was causing shenanigans in the galaxy far, far away. 

For "Star Wars" fans eager to see a new side of their favorite franchise, they'll have to wait for Leslye Headland's "The Acolyte," a new series set to debut on Disney+ in 2024. Details are slim on Headland's "Star Wars" series, though it has been confirmed that the Disney+ show will take place a century before "The Phantom Menace," or "Episode 1." The series will show the slow downfall of the High Republic — a "Star Wars" era brimming with prosperity and hope. For now, the series is shrouded in mystery, just like the dark side forces ready to pounce on the prosperous and hubris-heavy Jedi who occupy the High Republic.

Seeing as the series takes place before "Episode 1," it stands to reason that Headland's show is more in line with "The Phantom Menace" visually than "A New Hope," which shows the galaxy in disarray. While speaking with Entertainment Weekly, "Acolyte" star Manny Jacinto shared that the series will feature lightsaber battles that rival those seen in "The Phantom Menace," an entry that notably features highly-choreographed battles. "If you loved that sequence with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and Darth Maul," Jacinto teased. "I think you're going to enjoy this show."

Dafne Keen says that The Acolyte lacks blasters

Manny Jacinto isn't the only "Acolyte" star who thinks the show's lightsaber battles are as good as the ones in "The Phantom Menace." Charlie Barnett, who previously worked with Leslye Headland on the Netflix series "Russian Doll," opened up about how "The Acolyte" boasts practical, inviting lightsaber battles. While speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the series, Barnett casually pointed out how "The Phantom Menace" features impractical moves in its lightsaber sequences."... We have a lot more tangible physical moves than I saw in that ['Phantom Menace'] fight," Barnett said. "As badass as it is, there's a lot more grounded work that goes into our stunt training and our stunt performances," Barnett teased, saying that the battles in "The Acolyte" don't rely heavily on CGI.  

What particularly sets "The Acolyte" apart from other "Star Wars" projects is how there's less of a reliance on blasters. While the Prequel trilogy does feature characters using blasters and other sorts of weapons, they're far more commonly found in the Original trilogy. "There's a lack of guns, which personally as someone who loves fighting and stunts and stuff, I love," co-star Dafne Keen shared. In the series, Keen plays a Jedi. The star continued by pointing out that while the Disney+ series does rely heavily on lightsabers, it does feature sequences without them. "We watched some stuff the other day and it was just gorgeous," Keen teased. "And then we have a bunch of fights as well where there are no sabers where it's just full on. It's also really fun and does look really gritty and real. It feels like a fight." 

From what the cast members behind "The Acolyte" are teasing, it's fair to say that "Star Wars" fans are in for a treat with the show's action sequences.

Leslye Headland is taking cues from Episode 1

With the Prequel trilogy, audiences see the downfall of the Jedi. While the Jedi Order does come to an end with "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith," audiences do still get to see the full might of the  galactic warriors, especially in "Episode 1: The Phantom Menace." For series creator George Lucas, it was important that lightsaber battles look and feel different in each "Star Wars" era.

In a behind-the-scenes featurette on the lightsaber (via YouTube), Lucas explained why the battle sequences in "The Phantom Menace" are far more kinetic and choreographed than the gritty, slower-paced scenes in the Original trilogy. "Then when we moved to the prequel where there were Jedi in their full power and fighting as they were in the past, well-trained Jedi, then we had to make the swordfights much much faster, much more sophisticated, and much more aggressive in terms of the way they're fought," Lucas explained.

Seeing as there's a distinct difference between the lightsaber battles in the Prequel and Original trilogies, it makes sense that Leslye Headland's show has more in tune with "Episode 1" than other "Star Wars" projects. While "The Phantom Menace" continues to be the most maligned "Star Wars" film, it stands out as a favorite for Headland. While speaking with The Wrap in 2021, Headland expressed how "The Acolyte" is a prequel to the first canonical "Star Wars" flick. "But I actually was very intrigued by why George Lucas had started us at that particular point," Headland explained, saying that she questioned why the Jedi were depicted as they were. With "The Acolyte," audiences will hopefully understand why the High Republic was unable to realize the full might of the dark side. 

"The Acolyte" hits Disney+ in 2024