Actors Dafne Keen and Charlie Barnett are thrilled you adore their characters and excited for the emotional journey of joining the Star Wars galaxy.

Charlie Barnett knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed on for The Acolyte.

After previously working with creator Leslye Headland on her hit series Russian Doll, Barnett was thrilled to collaborate again, this time as the Jedi Knight Yord Fandar. “I want to work with her forever,” Barnett tells

Dafne Keen, who plays Padawan Jecki Lon, echoes his sentiment. “This is my first time, hopefully not my last time. I would literally follow her to the trenches,” Keen adds. 

Spoiler warning: This article discusses story details from the latest episode of The Acolyte, Episode 5, “Night.”

And in the latest episode of The Acolyte, their characters pretty much did.

In a heartbreaking turn of events, the fan-favorite Jedi Knight who inspired the Yord Horde and the half-Theelin Padawan met a terrifying foe in the Khofar forest.

They fought bravely. Sadly, they lost. But Barnett and Keen always knew this is where Jecki and Yord’s stories were headed. So we sat them down, side-by-side because the real-life friends also can’t be parted in life, and asked them to tell the full story.


“The first thing [Leslye] said to me was ‘You’re going to die,’” Keen recalls of her introductory phone call with the filmmaker. “And that was something that really drew me to the character.”

In her short time in the field, Keen’s Jecki proves to be a formidable fighter and worthy opponent for the terrifying villain. “As a viewer, I love a tragic death and Jecki’s death is so unfair,” Keen continues. “She’s fighting very well and she seems like she’s winning. And then [the Stranger] pulls out a dagger, which is completely cheating.”

Reading the scripts for the first time reminded Keen of watching Qui-Gon Jinn fight Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. “The weight of death is something that I really appreciate when I watch a film or a show, when you really feel death, like you would feel it in life. And, selfishly as a Star Wars fan, I know how much all the Jedi deaths broke my heart — like when Qui-Gon dies, I know how much that affected me.” But it’s also an important part of Star Wars stories, as we must say goodbye to some of our beloved heroes, going all the way back to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s sacrifice in Star Wars: A New Hope. “It’s such a huge part of Star Wars,” Keen says. “And getting to bring that legacy to life and even begin to scratch the heartbreak that those characters gave us was something really exciting to take on.”

“Like in Rogue One,” Barnett adds. “We all knew it was coming, but I was broken.”

Barnett also knew Yord’s full story from his first discussion about the part, he notes. “And I so damn appreciate that.” He’s worked on other projects where his character’s fate is a mystery until one week he learns it’s his last. That
can impact how he approaches a role, he says. “Leslye gave us the respect and the confidence in our performances to tell us from the very beginning and then collaborated with us on the whole process.”

He has only one regret. “I’m still mad that I don’t get to save you or try to,” he tells Keen. “I really do.”

And humor

The atmosphere on set couldn’t have been further from the intense and traumatic events playing out on screen.

Like a Jedi Master, Headland led her crew with passion and poise. “Leslye’s truly one of the best people I’ve ever worked with,” Keen says. “She’s such a generous director, and she’s so good at just learning how to listen and knowing when to assert herself and when to open her mind and take in other people’s ideas.”

“Truth on that,” Barnett adds enthusiastically.

“She’s like an orchestra director. She has an eye on everything very calmly from above, navigating with such kindness and grace,” Keen continues. “And because she’s such a passionate, creative person, she has such love for every single craft on set. She was always so excited and she had so much respect for everyone. And that’s really rare.”

“I love somebody who’s unafraid to live in who they are and their energy unapologetically,” Barnett adds. “Most people in the world are attracted to that kind of freedom.”

“Oh, 100%,” Keen agrees. “She’s such a funny person. We were laughing on set.”

Headland routinely praised everyone from her lead actors to the craftspeople bringing each small detail to life. “This is a really silly thing, but it’s so huge: She’s really good at giving positive reinforcement,” Keen adds. “A lot of people who are high up are very good at telling you when you’ve done wrong, but not when you’ve done well.” It wasn’t uncommon to finish a take and hear the disembodied voice of Headland yell “Slay!” from somewhere on the soundstage, Keen adds with a laugh.

“The way that she can create characters and storyline is above and beyond,” Barnett says. “It’s evident in just telling 50 things in someone’s backstory — about their future, their past, and where they are at the moment — in a line, in a look. That is really, really talented.”

But for the most fervent fans who have proclaimed their membership to the Jecki Jam and the Yord Horde fan clubs, Keen and Barnett know the pain right now is real and the Padawan and the Jedi Knight will be sorely missed.

“I love all of the kindness, appreciation, humor, pride, and joy that you have been investing into this,” Barnett says. “I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to notice me and notice this performance. And to notice the Yords of the world, the people who are trying to do what’s best and might have blinders on, but have the biggest and fullest heart.”

“There was something so beautiful about how Leslye wrote [Jecki’s] death,” Keen adds. “I really tried to play the moment of shock — ‘Oh my God, I’m dying.’ —and also, as a Jedi, I’m going to let go. That’s what life had in store for [Jecki]. And there was something so beautiful about that.”


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