“The Acolyte” star Dafne Keen reacts to Jecki's shocking fate

"Leslye has such a backbone as a writer to make you fall in love with these characters and then slaughter them all like pigs."

Warning: This article contains spoilers about Star Wars: The Acolyte episode 5.

Death becomes her. That’s because not only was Dafne Keen okay with being struck down on episode 5 of The Acolyte, but she reveled in it. “I had so much fun doing the death!” the actress tells Entertainment Weekly as part of our just-released cover story on the bloodbath episode. Not only that, but it was the news that her character Jecki Lon would be suffering an untimely demise that got the actress to sign on the project in the first place.

Jecki lost her life in a dramatic lightsaber battle with the newly unmasked master of Amandla Stenberg’s Mae — an unmasking that occurred when Jecki was able to knock off his super-creepy ginning helmet. Jecki appeared to be holding her own, until the Stranger (revealed to be Manny Jacinto’s Qimir) resorted to trickery to brutally take her down right in front of her own master, Sol (Lee Jung-jae), later referring the alien Padawn as an “it.” The Stranger was not done, as he would go on to snap the neck of Jedi Knight Yord Fandar (Charlie Barnett) as well before all was said and done.

With the corpse still fresh, we sat down with Keen to discuss the all-too-short life and all-too-sudden death of Jecki Lon.

<p>Christian Black / Lucasfilm Ltd.</p> Dafne Keen as Jecki Lon in 'Star Wars: The Acolyte'

Christian Black / Lucasfilm Ltd.

Dafne Keen as Jecki Lon in 'Star Wars: The Acolyte'

Related: Dafne Keen almost missed her Star Wars: The Acolyte job interview

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So how did show creator Leslye Headland break the news to you that Jecki would not be long for this galaxy?

DAFNE KEEN: Honestly, that's what really sold me. That was the first thing she said to me in our meeting. She was like, “You might be playing an alien and you die pretty early on,” and I was like, “I'm in! I love playing dead!”

It's really fun also because of the buildup with Osha, because you are like, “Oh my God, they love each other so much.” They're getting to it and then she dies and it's like, “What the f---? What do you mean? Wait? They were just getting started!”

An 18-year-old dying is just such a horrible thing, and it's so amazing for the story that Leslye went there. So many people wouldn't have gone and killed the young Padawan. I think my favorite thing of the whole show is the dialogue between JJ and Manny's characters, where she's dead on the ground and JJ says, “She was a child,” and Manny says, “You brought her here.”

Hey, you gave him a good fight!

It was a huge honor to get to be the person that took the helmet off him. That was something really exciting to me. And also… he cheats! She was winning until he cheated! It's heartbreaking. She was doing so well, this was her first time in real combat in the field, and you cheated! You killed a child! And also, just how brutal Charlie's death is, is insane to me. It's so crazy. I love this episode. Episode 5 is my favorite.

<p>Lucasfilm</p> Yord Fandar (Charlie Barnett), Jedi Padawan Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen), and Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) on 'The Acolyte'


Yord Fandar (Charlie Barnett), Jedi Padawan Jecki Lon (Dafne Keen), and Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) on 'The Acolyte'

Related: Star Wars: The Acolyte exclusive first photos of Dafne Keen's Jecki Lon

Let's go through some of these beats and moments and fights, starting with the fight scene with Amandla as Mae. It's got this weird sort of playfulness to it as you're trying to almost read her Miranda rights and cuff her.

I'm glad you spotted the playfulness. I was playing it as like, “This is really high stakes and I'm trying to imprison you, but also you look exactly like my friend. So it's confusing that I'm fighting your sister and she looks exactly like you, and this so jarring and weird, but I am doing my job. And Mae is so cheeky. Every time she kills a Jedi, she has a whole little speech that she gives. It’s so camp and over the top and fun. And Jecki is also so camp and over the top and fun, so having those two characters together is just really enjoyable, and the whole choreographing of that scene is so enjoyable.

To just be screaming, kicking, head-butting, rolling around on the ground — it felt really home to me. The first thing I ever did was Logan, which was very much those kinds of fights. So getting to do that, I was like, “I know this.” We had so much fun on set. We were laughing all day. I was choking her and she'd be like, “Sorry, no, we have to stop. This is too hilarious.” And then she'd have a knife to my neck and I'd be like, “Just ram it harder!” And she'd be like, “But I don't want to hurt you.” And I'd be like, “Dude, we're good. Just sell it!" I had to fly kick her, and then we saw it in the monitor and we were dying with laughter because I looked so hilarious.

<p>Lucasfilm Ltd</p> Dafne Keen on 'The Acolyte'

Lucasfilm Ltd

Dafne Keen on 'The Acolyte'

Tell me about the fight scene with Manny, where you get to bust out my favorite move of the series, where you're spinning and blocking multiple times with the two lightsabers.

That's such a difficult sequence and it got changed so many times throughout filming, but it was so fun to do that scene. That fight was such a different emotional space for Jecki because that feels like he's serious, whereas she at least  thinks that Mae wouldn't hurt her. But the energy that Manny's character brings into it is so incredibly different. It is like, “I will kill you. You are now defending your life.”

She's doing all these really cool moves and then he's cheating and he's killing her. That's how sneaky he is and how dark he is, that he will refer to a creature that he's killed as it. And there's such a ruthlessness in how he does it. He's so arrogant. He's not really engaging in anything that I'm giving him in the fight. He's just kind of like, whatever.

Fun fact, I fell over and embarrassed myself on set in front of everyone as we were doing that really cool spinning move. I literally slipped and fell on my ass. So I didn't look especially cool on set, but it looks really cool now and it was really fun to rehearse it. It was just weeks of me and Manny in a rehearsal room, and me and Manny are both very competitive hard-on-ourself people. It was really fun to get to see this completely different side of Manny who is the sweetest, softest, most kind person ever. And then he'd be in “I want to learn the fight” mode, which was hilarious.

Rachell Smith Dafne Keen of 'The Acolyte' at Star Wars Celebration 2023
Rachell Smith Dafne Keen of 'The Acolyte' at Star Wars Celebration 2023

Related: The Acolyte star Dafne Keen recalls lightsaber training mishap that led to a hotel evacuation

You said what sold you on doing the show was the fact that you got to die. So tell me about filming the actual death scene.

It was really fun. I had so much fun doing the death. The death took so long because Leslye really wanted to get it right, so she came down to set to make sure that that moment was done properly. There were so many different versions of how Jecki took the death, and I really wanted that moment to be the moment where she becomes a Jedi. You can see her accepting death. She's not angry at him. She's just initially shocked and then hopefully you see that she goes, “Okay, well this was my path and I'm lucky I got to get here.” And this kind of Jedi acceptance.

Did you and Charlie bond over your deaths coming in this episode and both knowing going in that this was going to be the one where you guys bit it?

Oh my god, yeah. Me and Charlie were joking about that all the time. Whenever we were on set and anyone would be complaining, me and Charlie would be like, “Peace out, we're dying in two weeks!” It was just an ongoing meme on set that me and Charlie were about to die. I also remember I had a really funny moment with JJ, who barely speaks any English. We'd been doing a really long day and I was like, “I die tomorrow.” And JJ just looks at me and goes, “I wish.” And then he laughed. Everyone was just in on the joke that me and Charlie were just so excited to die.

Rachell Smith Manny Jacinto, Dafne Keen, and Charlie Barnett of 'The Acolyte' at Star Wars Celebration 2023
Rachell Smith Manny Jacinto, Dafne Keen, and Charlie Barnett of 'The Acolyte' at Star Wars Celebration 2023

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Even before this episode, Leslye had been murdering Jedi left and right. Every episode, someone's getting cut down.

There are so many directors in blockbuster sagas that are so scared to kill off their characters, and are so comfortable with bringing characters back to life, and all of these little writer tricks that I think are quite cheeky. And I really like that she was actually killing people, because if you're not making it dangerous, then why are we even here? Why are we concerned by the story? Why do we care? Leslye has such a backbone as a writer to make you fall in love with these characters and then slaughter them all like pigs and be like, “Yeah, this is our villain. We're not just saying he's so big and scary, we're actually showing you how big and scary he is.”

If you’re writing Jecki’s obituary, what would you say about her?

I would say Jecki was a loving, dedicated Padawan to her Master Sol. I'd say that even though she had her fair share of disagreements with Yord, she loved Yord dearly. I would talk about Osha, because I think Osha really shapes her as a person and shows her a whole new point of view in the world. She could never imagine not being a Jedi, and seeing someone who had the same master as her and had the same talent as her quit is so insane to her that it just opens her world to something completely new. But I'd mainly say kind, giving, funny, dedicated, and talented. Hopefully, you see that in that fight scene. You see that this little 18-year-old is kicking ass, and the guy has to cheat to win.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.