Leslye Headland Hopes the Force Is With ‘The Acolyte’

Leslye Headland has been telling “Star Wars” stories onscreen since she was a teenager. Ostracized at school for being different, she retreated inward, making stop-motion films starring her action figures.

So when she found success as an adult in Hollywood — Headland helped create “Russian Doll,” the 2019 Netflix comedy starring Natasha Lyonne — and got the chance to create an actual “Star Wars” show, it was the realization of a lifelong dream.

And a chance for humiliating failure. On a galactic scale.

“I essentially cold-called Lucasfilm and, after a lot of conversations, found myself pitching a show — utterly elated, my ultimate career goal, the culmination of my fandom,” Headland said. “At the same time, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. There is so much pressure. It’s extreme. I had never done anything this big before.”

Headland’s show, “The Acolyte,” will debut on Disney+ on June 4. Costing roughly $180 million (for eight episodes) and taking four years to make, it attempts two feats at once: pleasing old-school “Star Wars” fans — who can seem unpleasable — while telling an entirely new story, one that requires no prior knowledge of “Star Wars” and that showcases women and people of color.

For the faithful, “The Acolyte” serves up scads of Jedi, a franchise fundamental that the other live-action “Star Wars” TV shows have depicted sparingly or not at all. The opening scene in “The Acolyte” takes place in an eatery crowded with colorful aliens, a callback to the Mos Eisley cantina from the first “Star Wars” movie, in 1977.

Other shout-outs to core fans — we see you, we haven’t forgotten about you — are sprinkled into the dialogue: “May the force be with you” and “I have a bad feeling about this” makes an early appearance.

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