Star Wars: The Acolyte will take fans to a whole new era of the Star Wars timeline: the latter days of The High Republic era, about 100 years before events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It’s a time when The Jedi Order and Galactic Republic are at their strongest; and yet, as this new Disney+ series will show, there was darkness gathering in the shadows of the galaxy.

Trailers for Star Wars: The Acolyte have teased the role of “Mother Aniseya,” (Jodie Turner-Smith) the leader of a coven of Force-user witches. Mother Aniseya’s connection to Force warrior “Mae” (Amandla Stenberg) is at the center of The Acolyte’s story; in our interview with Jodie Turner-Smith, the Star Wars actress teased Aniseya’s problem with the Jedi Order – and why it’s hard to call her a “villain”:

“Well I think just having a philosophy that says instead of… light or dark… it’s about individualism is very mother-like, right?” Turner-Smith said when describing her character. “That’s definitely what your mom’s going to be encouraging: that belief that you’re not just one thing.”

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Star Wars has been fully locked into a re-examination of the Force and its users, ever since Rian Johnson’s controversial Seqeul Trilogy film, The Last Jedi, was released in 2017. Since that pivotal chapter the franchise has expanded its few of Force users beyond the Jedi and and Sith, to include “Wayseekers” like Ahsoka Tano (not part of the Jedi Order), “Fallen Jedi” like Baylan Skoll, and deeper lore about the Nightsisters witches, and other Force religions that have existed.

In fact, Mother Aniseya is carrying on a story thread that Star Wars High Republic era has been examining for years now. The “Convocation of the Force” in the early High Republic era was an entire council of different Force religions, of which the Jedi were just one part; Aniseya’s coven seems to be one of those religions (or a splinter group of an older one) that has very different views on Force use:

“I also think Mother Aniseya represents a philosophy that is more about connection to life, and less about connection to dogma,” Turner-Smith explained. “I think she’s resistant to the idea of institution. And she just wants to create a world that is safe for those like her. That means testing institution because institution is saying that what she is is wrong. And she doesn’t believe that at all.”

As for Mother Aniseya’s relationship with the Jedi? Jodie Turner-Smith was calm in her breakdown, but clearly the lines of tension are apparent:

“I just think that Mother Aniseya thinks that institution is not correct in [being] who she is. So that means that if a Jedi believes in what the institution is touting, then that Jedi is believing something that is not correct.”

Fighting words have never sounded so rational.

Star Wars: The Acolyte has its two-episode premiere on Disney+ on Tuesday June 4th.


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