Dafne Keen's approach to The Acolyte 'completely' changed after make-up test

The actor and co-stars Charlie Barnett and Rebecca Henderson speak to Yahoo about the Disney+ show

Watch: Dafne Keen shares her experience on The Acolyte

Dafne Keen thought she knew what she was doing when she first accepted the role of Padawan Jecki Lon, but everything changed when she finished her first make-up test, she tells Yahoo UK.

Keen is part of the ensemble cast at the heart of The Acolyte, Disney+’s new Star Wars series that takes viewers into the High Republic Era. The show sees Keen’s Jecki become part of an investigation into Mae, the central figure of the series who is out for blood against four Jedi after being wronged by the force users when she was younger. The role is a far cry away from Keen’s other notable projects like Logan and His Dark Materials.

“As soon as I had all the prosthetics on and the costume, Jeckie just came to life,” the actor shares.

“The way I read her on the page and the way I'd thought of her in my head, and where I'd rehearsed her by myself, was completely different to once I had the whole look on. She became so much more.”

The Acolyte (Disney+)
Dafne Keen as padawan Jecki in The Acolyte, the actor said that her version of the character completely changed after she was transformed into the character. (Disney+)

Having worked in the industry for some time Keen felt it was important to prepare: “The way I devised her was very controlled, kind of harsh and she became quite sweet and curious [after the makeup came on], which was really lovely and it was really fun to get to play that and I was very surprised by that aspect of her.

“I think the make up really, really helped, it was so exciting and we worked with the most amazing makeup artists, Jeremy and Rob, who were just incredible.”

Read more: The Acolyte review: Star Wars leaves Skywalker saga behind, and is better for it

Getting into the makeup required a 3.30am wake up call, something that Keen says was “exhausting” but was well worth it: “It was an intense, cool time… but it was worth it and it was really fun to do. You feel different.”

Charlie Barnett, who plays Jedi Knight Yord, joked that he “really wanted to be an alien until” he watched Keen and co-star Rebecca Henderson’s first day of makeup. He says: “I was like ‘cool, I'm good. I'm good, baby. I’m from Alderaan.”

The Acolyte (Disney+)
Dafne Keen said of her character: 'The way I devised her was very controlled, kind of harsh and she became quite sweet and curious'. (Disney+)

The pair spoke on the subject alongside Henderson, who had a similar experience to Keen as she played alien Vernestra Rwoh.

“It only became difficult if you worked many days in a row, then it became like a meditative exercise, going through the makeup,” Henderson says. “But if you didn’t work every single day in a row then it was very manageable.”

Barnett had an altogether different challenge, trying not to do too much of a deep dive into Star Wars lore that he became lost in it. The actor, it seems, found an affinity with his character Yord, who is always keen to be by the book and know everything there is to know about being a Jedi.

“It was really from Leslye [Headland]’s writing,” Barnett says. “I joke the name Yord Fandar is perfect for him, that really was the jumping off point for me. I think the name fits.

The Acolyte (Disney+)
Getting into the makeup required a 3.30am wake up call for both her and co-star Rebecca Henderson (left), something that Keen says was “exhausting” but was well worth it. (Disney+)

“It’s the only character I've ever had where I'm like it is so brilliantly, perfectly fitting. I wanted to find a way to show the wash of the character, I wanted to find a way to play somebody that people would love to hate to a certain extent.

“But I knew that his investment was from doing the best job possible, and that's something that I very clearly felt.”

Read more: The Acolyte cast hail Amandla Stenberg as an ‘amazing leading woman’

Keen chimed in to say that actually Barnett’s character is one that viewers will “love to find annoying”, a sentiment that Barnett agreed with: “He wants to be the best that he can possibly be, and I think it limits him in a certain way and I know just from my own experience in life, I've felt those same things. So it was easy to tap into that regard and kind of go full force.”

Henderson adds: “I remember at the read through you were like, ‘I've been researching all the Jedi and the canon…’ and I was like, ‘oh, you are Yord, you’re an A+ student.”

The Acolyte (Disney+)
The Acolyte cast also spoke about how they became overly nerdy about Star Wars lore on set, so much so that showrunner Leslye Headland asked them to 'stop' researching. (Disney+)

“My favorite way into characters is to somehow find yourself,” Barnett adds. “I've been doing it outside of even the work, and I'm now invested in the character that I didn't even know that I've been living, in the case of Star Wars.”

Keen said the cast “all became Star Wars nerds” during filming, quipping that they’d regularly question things on set by bringing up canon events like Order 66. She recounts: “There was one point when Leslye went up to Charlie on set, cause Charlie kept asking things, and Leslye was like, ‘you need to stop watching it, reading things. Just worry about your acting it.’”

Barnett admits he “did the same thing on Russian Doll”, which he worked on with Headland, and Henderson jokes that it at least means he’s “consistent”.

But "it all ended once we went to Star Wars Celebration" because he "answered one question" and realised "‘I'm completely wrong, I'm going to shut up.’” Even so, a passion for Star Wars is no bad thing.

The Acolyte's first two episodes are out now on Disney+, and new episodes will premiere every Wednesday on the streamer.