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The Acolyte
Photograph: LucasFilm

Where was ‘The Acolyte’ filmed? The surprising locations behind the new Star Wars series

The Force finally comes to Wales... and Portugal

Gregory James Wakeman
Written by
Gregory James Wakeman
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Set 100 years before the events of The Phantom Menace, new Star Wars spinoff series The Acolyte unfolds during a never-before-seen era of the live action Star Wars universe

The Disney+ show stars Amandla Stenberg as twin sisters Osha and Mae, who represent the light and dark side of the Force. Respected Jedi Master Sol (Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae) investigates a number of crimes that bring him into contact with his past student Osha, all while he contends with his young Padawan Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen) and smuggler Qimir (Manny Jacinto).  

That new time period meant that showrunner Leslye Headland had to create galaxies and worlds that were familiar, yet still distinctive. In order to achieve this, all eight episodes of The Acolyte were filmed in a variety of locations across Europe.

But where exactly was it shot? Take a look below to find out.  

THE ACOLYTE
Lucasfilm Ltd.Scene from Lucasfilm's THE ACOLYTE, exclusively on Disney+. ©2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Madeira, Portugal

The Atlantic island of Madeira, 1000 kilometre south west of Portugal, joins a rich tapestry of Star Wars locations around the world. Filming took place in the UNESCO laurel forest of Fanal, other areas of the island, including Caniçal, Porto Moniz, and Ribeira da Janela, and the smaller nearby isles of Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens 

Nearly a quarter of The Acolyte was filmed on the island. It stands in for different galactic destinations in the show, including the Outer Rim forest planet of Khofar, home of Wookiee Jedi Master Kelnacca.

Madeira has never been used for a major production before, so each of the locations gave the show an original look. Throughout filming, the cast and crew incorporated Madeira’s unpredictable climate into the look of the show, rather than waiting for the skies to clear. 

The Acolyte Disney+
Foto: Cortesía

‘Madeira was the only place that offered us most of the places we needed to find on a single island,’ producer Damian Anderson tells Portugal’s Expresso. ‘It offered environments we had never seen before and gave us the opportunity to expand our creativity to create new worlds.’

Like the Irish island of Skellig Michael standing in for Ahch-To in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, the rugged Madeiran coastline helped evoke a sense of isolation for the characters. ‘The ocean and the style of the locations we chose portray the loneliness and remoteness of certain characters,’ says Anderson. 

Englefield Estate, Berkshire

Opened in 2021, Berkshire’s state-of-the-art Shinfield Studios was the home for The Acolyte’s interior sequences and the show’s principal filming location (under the working title ‘Paradox’). The nearby woods at Englefield Estate, a country pile that’s previously been used in everything from X-Men: First Class to Masters of the Air, were used for scenes in which Jedi’s The estate is not open to the public, so expect to be Force choked if you attempt a visit.

THE ACOLYTE
Photograph: Christian Black/Lucasfilm

Brecon Beacons, Wales

South Wales has become something of a home from home for Lucasfilm over the last few years, with the studio’s TV sequel to Willow filmed in the area in 2021. But The Acolyte marks the first occasion that the Star Wars universe has shot in Wales. Filming taking place in a variety of locations from January 2023, including Brecon Beacons National Park for its forest and greenery. Trago Mills in Merthyr Tydfil was another Welsh location used.

Signs were also spotted for The Acolyte’s production office in Merthyr Tydfil, while the show even cast local eight-year-old Cardiff actress Danielle Waterman to portray a young Padawan in the series. 

According to a press release, the decision was made to film on practical locations like these to ‘really ground the series in lush, real-world details in homage to the original trilogy of Star Wars films’.

Production designer Kevin Jenkins explains that The Acolyte’s design was aimed at creating an ‘older, more peaceful version of the galaxy than we’ve seen so far’. As a result, ‘lush new worlds were imagined by a team of artists who dreamed them up specifically for the show to reflect the flourishing Republic’.

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