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The Real Reason The Acolyte Is Set During Star Wars' High Republic Era

Although it's been three years since "Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker" arrived in theaters, it's a great time to be a fan of the galaxy far, far away. Disney+ has become the new place for ambitious storytelling with some of the best characters that the franchise has to offer. 

It's worth noting that the notion of bringing the galaxy-hopping adventures of "Star Wars" to the world of live-action TV started way back in 2012 when George Lucas himself was trying to get a project off the ground — the canceled series "Star Wars: Underworld." Unfortunately, the budgetary restraints at the time meant that the series was shuttered. "Underworld" would've been set during the time between "Episode III – Revenge of the Sith" and "Episode IV – A New Hope," and it would've been much darker than the movies (via Total Film). Thankfully, the arrival of Disney+ gave Lucasfilm more scope to explore the "Star Wars" universe in much more detail — and in 2019, audiences first met Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and baby Grogu in "The Mandalorian." The wild success of the adventure series has led the studio to work on a number of projects for the streaming service, including "The Mandalorian" Season 2 and "The Book of Boba Fett," while "Obi-Wan Kenobi" starts airing soon.

Going forward, though, "Russian Doll" creator Leslye Headland is also working on a mysterious series called "The Acolyte," set in the High Republic era – or, in layman's terms, around 100 years before the events of "Episode I – The Phantom Menace" — and while her story is very different from what "Underworld" would've been, it also seems likely to tap into darker corners than most "Star Wars" properties.

Leslye Headland wants to look at the Sith as underdogs

So why is Leslye Headland turning the clock back for "The Acolyte," exactly? Well, audiences have already seen what it's like when the Empire is in charge, but this new show is about exploring the Sith and how they operate when they're outnumbered. 

When speaking to Vanity Fair, Headland explained why she wants to flip the perspective. "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. When they actually are essentially the underdogs, for lack of a better term." She added, "So this would be that era."

She also pointed out that the studio wanted to explore new territory, rather than just following fan-favorite characters. "It wasn't that they didn't want to explore that 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." 

The creator went on to say that it was also perfect timing that her idea for the show matched what Lucasfilm was looking for with its High Republic publishing initiative, as the studio was already extremely interested in fleshing out new storylines within an era that, so far, has been largely unexplored in live-action. This proved to be a stroke of the luck, as the story she initially envisioned is something that could only fit naturally into the High Republic era, rather than the later time periods that casual fans are used to.

"The Acolyte" doesn't have a release date, but it certainly appears to be a project that "Star Wars" fans will be following closely.