THE ACOLYTE Showrunner Responds To "Gayest STAR WARS" Backlash And Discusses "Lesbian Witches" Claims

THE ACOLYTE Showrunner Responds To "Gayest STAR WARS" Backlash And Discusses "Lesbian Witches" Claims

The Acolyte showrunner Leslye Headland has addressed the backlash surrounding her and Amandla Stenberg's comments about this being the "gayest" Star Wars and weighs in on the show's "lesbian witches."

By JoshWilding - Jun 21, 2024 11:06 AM EST
Filed Under: Star Wars
Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Leslye Headland has been working on The Acolyte since 2019 and, with the first four episodes of the series now streaming on Disney+...well, it probably hasn't gone as the showrunner hoped.

While taking charge of her own Star Wars project was a dream come true for Headland, unhappy fans have turned it into a nightmare with an influx of negative reviews (which many believe could be a sign of review-bombing). Then, there are the nitpicks about minor creative decisions which are being blown out of proportion. 

Despite that, critic reviews and viewership numbers suggest The Acolyte is a success. 

Its supposed LGBTQ+ themes have been an issue for some, as has the fact Headland is gay. The show's lead, Amandla Stenberg, is nonbinary and gay, while Yord Fandar actor Charlie Barnett is also gay. Finally, Rebecca Henderson, who plays Jedi Master Vernestra Rwoh, is married to Headland. 

Shortly before The Acolyte launched, comments from Headland and Stenberg about this being the "gayest" Star Wars quickly went viral and drew criticisms from some. 

Talking to The Hollywood Reporter about that, Headland said, "I was surprised by the question. Amandla and I just burst out laughing because that’s our knee-jerk reaction to being asked that, but to be honest, I don’t know what the term 'gay' means in that sense. I don’t believe that I’ve created queer, with a capital Q, content."

"Honestly, I feel sad that people would think that if something were gay, that that would be bad," Headland added while addressing the backlash. "It makes me feel sad that a bunch of people on the internet would somehow dismantle what I consider to be the most important piece of art that I’ve ever made."

Another big talking point was the introduction of Mother Aniseya (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Mother Koril (Margarita Levieva), the leaders of a coven who have been dubbed "lesbian witches." That's not an assessment Headland necessarily agrees with. 

"They’re in a matriarchal society. As a gay woman, I knew it would read that their sexuality is queer, but there also aren’t any men in their community," she explained. "So a closeness between the two of them would be natural. It seemed plot-driven. I would say it’s really reductive to call them lesbians. I think it means you’re not really paying attention to this story." 

"I’m proud of being a gay woman who’s accomplished this feat, and certainly, if my content is called queer, I don’t want to disown whatever queerness is in the show," Headland noted, making it clear she doesn't want to diminish how those who do feel represented view those scenes. "I would be proud to create something that inspired queer people."

The first four episodes of The Acolyte are now streaming on Disney+.

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