Still reeling from Rise of Skywalker’s two-second introduction of the series’ first gay characters? Never fear. Leslye Headland has arrived to bring balance to the Force.
Headland has signed on to showrun the mystery-thriller The Acolyte, one of several new Star Wars series coming to Disney+. In a new interview with The AV Club, Headland spoke about how her own experience as a gay woman informed her interpretation of the classic films, and the importance of having a queer storyteller wade into the series.
“Well, I love that interview that Mark Hamill [did], where he says, ‘If Luke is gay to you, then of course he’s gay,'” Headland said of the so-called “queer reading” of Star Wars. “That’s such a strong, beautiful thing for him to say. I mean, I use the example of The Matrix as well. Neo is a character that, if you’re going through an experience of coming out or transitioning, that is a character that 100% appeals to you, and you can completely track that journey in a way. The confirmation of his status is something that is less important in my opinion, in the first film, because it’s trying to reach the audience at a level that’s almost subconscious or unconscious, which I think is something very important with fairy tales.”
“You have to feel like this is speaking directly to you, regardless of what you might be going through, at what point in your life you’re going through it,” Headland continued. “That being said, as somebody that is a lesbian, every time I see gay or queer representation in media, I scream with happiness. There is just nothing like seeing that out in the world.”
As for bringing LGBTQ characters to Acolyte, Headland made clear that representation is important on both sides of the camera. “It’s a beautiful conversation to be having,” she said, referring to the current debate over appropriate representation. “Sometimes people think that representation just completely within media—meaning within the story—makes up for representation behind the camera, and that’s, to me, even more important. Like I said, media representation is wildly important, but there’s also this kind of nuanced conversation that I wish more people were having about people behind the camera, and behind the scenes. Because I think that’s really where you see real change occur, and the real seismic shift in culture.”
So does that mean we can expect to see some LGBTQ heroism in Acolyte or any future Star Wars outings? We feel pretty confident, as do we also in Headland’s abilities. After enjoying initial success with the stage plays Assistance and Bachelorette, Headland scored a major win creating the hit Netflix series Russian Doll.
The Acolyte will hit Disney+ in 2022.