'The Acolyte' release date, trailers, cast and more

Star Wars "The Acolyte" on Disney Plus
(Image credit: Disney/Star Wars)

The Star Wars universe on Disney Plus is set to expand with the premiere of "The Acolyte," a new series set during the High Republic era of Star Wars history, approximately a century before the events of "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace." That's a largely unexplored era in official Star Wars canon, which gives creator Leslye Headland a greater level of creative freedom than writers who have to fit their stories into brief moments between movies.

Headland, best known as the co-creator of the Netflix series "Russian Doll," also directed the first two episodes of "The Acolyte," and other directors in the eight-episode season include acclaimed filmmaker Kogonada ("After Yang") and TV veterans Hanelle Culpepper and Alex Garcia Lopez.

Carrie-Anne Moss, Amandla Stenberg and"Squid Game" star Lee Jung-jae lead the cast of the series, which has been described as a mystery thriller set in the world of Star Wars. Here's everything we know so far about the upcoming first season of "The Acolyte."

'The Acolyte' season 1 release date

The wait for "The Acolyte" is almost over, since the first two episodes will premiere June 4 on Disney Plus, while the remaining six episodes will debut on subsequent Tuesdays. 

That's a typical pattern for the roll-out of Disney Plus Star Wars series, a strategy that has worked well in building buzz for shows like "The Mandalorian" and "Andor." With "The Acolyte" set up as a murder mystery, the weekly release dates will give fans the chance to speculate about plot twists and possible solutions.

'The Acolyte' season 1 trailers

Released in March, the first trailer for "The Acolyte" opens with Master Sol teaching a group of Jedi younglings, and introduces the central concept of the series, that someone has been killing off the Jedi. The trailer showcases some intense fighting between Mae and both Master Indara and Master Sol, plus a multi-Jedi face-off against an enemy wielding a familiar-looking sinister red light saber.

The second trailer for "The Acolyte," released for Star Wars Day on May 4, begins by once again establishing the shocking murder of Jedi and closes with a slightly more substantial glimpse of that red light saber-wielding enemy. In between, smuggler Qimir offers his criticism of the galactic order imposed by the Jedi, and Mae gives an even more impressive demonstration of her formidable fighting skills. There's also a hint that "The Acolyte" will deal with the rise of the corrupting Dark Side of the Force.

'The Acolyte' season 1 cast

Star Wars "The Acolyte" on Disney Plus

(Image credit: Disney/Star Wars)

Not much is known yet about the characters on "The Acolyte," but Disney Plus has released an official cast list, which includes 10 series regulars. If past Star Wars series are any indication, though, there's no guarantee that that all of those characters will appear in every episode, and some of the credited main cast members may only make sporadic appearances over the course of the season.

Although "The Acolyte" is set decades before any previous Star Wars films, it's still possible that familiar Star Wars characters may show up in some capacity. For now, though, the announced actors — including two of Headland's "Russian Doll" collaborators — are all playing new characters. 

Here's what the cast list looks like for the first season of "The Acolyte."

  • Amandla Stenberg as Mae, a former Padawan who has become a fierce warrior and may be the "acolyte" referred to in the title
  • Lee Jung-jae as Master Sol, a respected Jedi who leads the investigation into the murders of other Jedi
  • Manny Jacinto as Qamir, a former smuggler who specializes in procuring unusual items
  • Dafne Keen as Jecki Lon, the current Padawan apprentice to Master Sol
  • Charlie Barnett as Yord Fandar, a straitlaced Jedi who serves as a guardian of the Jedi Temple
  • Jodie Turner-Smith as Mother Aniseya, a "Force witch" who leads a coven of women who wield the Force but are not part of the Jedi
  • Rebecca Henderson as Vernestra Rwoh, an elder Jedi Master who has been featured in the "High Republic" novels and comic books
  • Joonas Suotamo as Kelnacca, a Wookiee Jedi who leads a solitary life; Suotamo previously played Chewbacca in multiple Star Wars films
  • Carrie-Anne Moss as Master Indara, a fearsome Jedi who is especially proficient in combat and was inspired by Moss' character Trinity from "The Matrix"
  • Dean-Charles Chapman rounds out the main cast in an undisclosed role

'The Acolyte' season 1 plot

Aside from what can be gleaned from trailers, very little information has been released about the plot of "The Acolyte," which is standard practice for Star Wars, in order to keep fans interested and avoid spoilers. The official synopsis from Disney Plus offers this vague description: "An investigation into a shocking crime spree pits a respected Jedi Master against a dangerous warrior from his past. As more clues emerge, they travel down a dark path where sinister forces reveal all is not what it seems."

It's clear that Lee Jung-jae's Master Sol will be hunting down the person responsible for murdering the Jedi, and that his investigation will place him in the path of his former apprentice, Amandla Stenberg's Mae. She may be the one responsible for the murders, or she may have gone rogue in order to track down the true culprit. 

As creator Leslye Headland told Collider, "The Acolyte" will be a serialized, eight-part story: "There's an overarching story that's told over the course of eight episodes. It is a mystery thriller, meaning each episode you have to watch in order to get more information, and start to get invested." Headland also hinted at some connections to other Star Wars properties: "There are a lot of alien references, a lot of Clone War references, a lot of original trilogy references. Basically, all of the stuff that I love about Star Wars, and I think are recognizable."

While the main mystery may wrap up at the end of eight episodes, Headland already has plans for a second season, and given the overarching Star Wars mythology led by Lucasfilm Chief Creative Officer Dave Filoni, it's safe to say that "The Acolyte" will have ramifications far beyond its eight first-season episodes.

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Josh Bell
Writer

Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and has written about movies and TV for Vulture, Inverse, CBR, Crooked Marquee and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.