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Star Wars The Acolyte interview: Dafne Keen, Charlie Barnett & Rebecca Henderson on becoming a Jedi

Star Wars The Acolyte interview: Dafne Keen, Charlie Barnett & Rebecca Henderson on becoming a Jedi

We sat down with the stars of the upcoming Star Wars: The Acolyte, Dafne Keen, Charlie Barnett and Rebecca Henderson.

The High Republic is certainly a lesser-explored era within the Star Wars timeline. Those of you who enjoy the odd Star Wars comic or novel from time to time may know a thing or two, as will the young fans of the animated Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures.

It’s not, though, a period that’s been explored in live-action before. Disney Plus’ upcoming The Acolyte is set to mark the era’s live-action debut, with the six-part series’ two-episode premiere due to land on 4 June.

Set approximately 100 years prior to the events of Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, The Acolyte follows respected Jedi Master Sol (portrayed by Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae) as he investigates a string of murders. The investigation soon reveals that there’s a hidden sinister force at play that could threaten the balance of the Jedi Order.

Ahead of the series’ premiere, we had the opportunity to sit down with a trio of Jedi - Charlie Barnett, Dafne Keen, and Rebecca Henderson, who portray Yord Fandar, Jecki Lon, and Vernestra Rwoh, respectively - to talk about the intrigue of the High Republic era and just how surreal it is to portray a Jedi.

Take a look at our interview with The Acolyte’s Charlie Barnett, Dafne Keen, and Rebecca Henderson below.

Unlike several other of Disney Plus’ Star Wars projects, The Acolyte doesn’t rely on a sense of familiarity. As such, there’s a palpable feeling of intrigue and risk that elevates the series, and I was keen to hear from the cast about whether this factor attracted them to the project.

“Yeah, I think that was definitely a huge thing for me,” Dafne began.

“When I hopped on a call with Leslye [Headland, the show’s creator], she was like, ‘There’s not much [to go on]. There’s literature on it, but there’s no audio-visual.’ It gives us this creative freedom to play in this amazing world that George Lucas created.”

“We get to inhabit that world [...] but have the creative freedom to create a completely original story. It’s really exciting to make something that new Star Wars fans could also enjoy,” Dafne continued.

Charlie, Dafne, and Vernestra all portray members of the Jedi Order. For Dafne, that’s in the form of padawan Jecki while Charlie and Vernestra portray the more experienced Yord and Vernestra, respectively.

The Acolyte /
Disney Plus

Fair to say, if you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve likely dreamt about what it’s like to step onto a real set, donning the robes, lightsaber in hand.

It’s just as epic as you’d likely hoped.

“There are so many [pinch-me] moments,” Rebecca said. “The first being in the look - seeing Vernestra’s look for the first time - or walking onto the sets, which were all practically built. It really felt like you were in the Jedi Temple.”

“There was almost not a lot of acting, you know, because we were inside Star Wars. Everything was there. [...] Walking on to set the first time, though, is the pinch-me moment. People around you bring you to your place and oh, it’s so cool.”

“Even going further back,” Charlie began. “Getting the call that I had gotten [the role], which is a pinch-me moment in itself, but being able to call family members and friends who were fans.”

“You weren’t supposed to be doing that,” Dafne jested.

“Telling them? Yeah, I was on an NDA [non-disclosure agreement], breaking it all over the place. I called my mom,” Charlie said.

“You’ve gotta call your mom,” Rebecca agreed.

“Mom’s aren’t covered on NDAs,” joked Charlie. “They’re moms.”

The Acolyte /
Disney Plus

“It was so exciting finally tweeting about it,” Dafne said.

“Also, getting a lightsaber,” Rebecca added. “All of the steps were very pinch-me moments. Like, ‘Here’s your lightsaber.’ Oh cool.”

“The fights too,” Charlie recalled. “Getting to learn during the fight training.”

“We had a really sweet bonding pinch-me moment,” Dafne said of her and Charlie.

“We had started stunt training and Charlie came in a couple of weeks after me, and Charlie was getting really frustrated because we were all at this point [where] we'd been training for like a month now.”

“He came in to all of us knowing how to use a saber which, by the way, Charlie was amazing. Charlie used to be a dancer, so he got it like this [snaps fingers], but Charlie's very hard on himself,” she continued.

“You [Charlie] were having a little freakout. And they brought in the ropes. We'd requested to have the ropes so that we could see how we moved in [them], and there was a real pinch-me moment then, for me, watching Charlie with the saber. I took a picture of him, not allowed, captioned it Master Yord and I sent it to him. It was a real moment of, ‘Oh my God, we're Jedi.’”

The Acolyte /
Disney Plus

“It was after a day I had been really upset about how not well I was performing in my fighting and I got this text later from Dafne with me in the robe doing the fight saying Master Yord and it made me feel really, really special,” Charlie recalled.

“I had another pinch-me moment watching Charlie,” Rebecca said. “I was visiting the set one day - I think it was Leslye’s birthday, so I was there - and Charlie, there's something you do with the force and you’re on wires, and he flew into a scene. We work together on Russian Doll playing really different characters, and I think I burst into tears.”

“It was so cool, and it looked like I was watching Star Wars which made it such a pinch-me moment because [me and Charlie] know each other outside of that world.”

All of the trio’s characters provide a real sense of stability in the show’s opening episodes, upholding those Jedi ideals despite there being a building sense of disarray within the Jedi Order. This is in stark contrast to a character like Sol who very much becomes emotionally invested in the events that begin to unfold.

The Acolyte /
Disney Plus

Yord struck me as perhaps the most by-the-book and stoic of the Jedi introduced to us. I was curious to hear from Charlie as to whether we might see his character’s composure and intent challenged.

“This is a wonderful question, thank you for asking it,” Charlie began.

“I'm nervous about how much I can answer. The best part about any kind of show or project or story is seeing character’s challenged so, of course, [Yord] will be faced with challenges and as we know just from the trailers, there are some outward dark forces aligning.”

“It seems to be drifting into our [Jedi] world. So yes, that’s going to come up and be a problem for him. One of the best parts about Yord is that as much as he is invested in the Council, in the Republic and what he sees as being right, he’s also not afraid to ask questions.”

“He’s not afraid to acknowledge or recognise when things are stepping out of bounds. [...] He's unafraid to [make that] risk.” A tease that’ll have to tide us over for now.

Star Wars: The Acolyte premieres on Disney Plus on 4 June.

Featured Image Credit: Disney Plus

Topics: Star Wars, TV And Film, Disney, Interview