Leslye Headland is excited to bring her queer point of view to a galaxy far, far away.
The writer, director, and showrunner of the hugely popular and critically acclaimed Netflix series Russian Doll (co-created by Natasha Lyonne and Amy Poehler), is moving on to Star Wars next, showrunning The Acolyte, one of the new Star Wars series announced by Disney+ last year.
Little is known about the series so far, except that it’s a mystery-thriller that follows the emergence of dark side powers in the final days of the High Republic era, and that it will be female-centric. And, we know that it’s being run, written, and executive produced by Headland, who will the be the first queer person to serve in that role for a Star Wars franchise.
But no matter what the series is about, coming from Headland, it will without a doubt be coming from Headland’s very queer point of view.
While she had seen the movies before, when Headland saw the original trilogy re-released in school, that, she says, is when she really got into the films. “I doubled down and I got even more excited by Star Wars, and even more into supplemental materials, like novels and comic books, and stuff like that.” She counts Han Solo, BB-8, Ahsoka Tano, and Asajj Ventress as some of her favorite characters.
So now that she gets to tell her own stories in this universe she loves, she’s excited that she’s getting to do the same types of characters she’s written her whole career; characters that are normally relegated to side stories. “I'm excited to do the type of character work that I normally do and pieces that take place in regular-day America, which is where most of my work has been,” she says, “I love those types of characters, so being able to explore them in Star Wars is something that I was very surprised everyone was into.”
For Headland, nothing is like seeing other queer people and queer stories, and she wants Star Wars fans to be able to do that when they watch their favorite franchise. While she offers no information on if that will be on screen or not, the fact that a lesbian is behind the scenes running the show brings a new level of queerness to the universe.
“In the same way that the original Star Wars film, A New Hope, is about a young man living in Modesto, Calif., who doesn't want to take over his dad's hardware store… there's just no way that me being a queer woman is not going to be reflected in my work. I could try not to do it, but why would I? It just feels like a natural extension of what I do.”
No matter what characters are in her stories, all of them are about being queer in some way. “I think that because storytelling, at its core, is always going to come down to either the personal or emotional through-line to your characters, your identity is important. And like I said, mine is just going to be in my work, whether I'm explicitly dealing with it or not, it's always going to be there.”
But that doesn’t mean she thinks on-screen representation is any less important. “I think that you can expect some sort of combination of both,” she says about The Acolyte. “You can expect some sort of expression of my own artistic dream and just my voice and what it looks like in that universe, for sure. But I also think that representation both on screen and behind the screen, it's just so important.”
Star Wars: The Acolyte will premiere on Disney+.