Manny Jacinto on Being Part of the “Star Wars” Franchise and Getting ‘Jedi Envy’ in “The Acolyte”

“Star Wars” fans, there’s a new show streaming right now on Disney+ that you cannot afford to miss.

“The Acolyte,” a new series set a century before the events of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” in the era of the High Republic, tells the story of a dangerous warrior who embarks on a mission to murder the Jedi masters that have done her wrong in the past. But when things start to unravel, everyone realizes that not all is actually as it seems.

The cast of “The Acolyte” is composed of many talented actors and prominent names in the industry, among whom are Amandla Stenberg who portrays twin sisters Osha and Mae Aniseya, Lee Jung-jae of “Squid Game” fame who plays Jedi Master Sol, and our very own Manny Jacinto who plays Qimir, a former smuggler and now a trader who is also Mae’s accomplice.

WhenInManila.com got to speak with Manny Jacinto to know more about his character and his journey in this new “Star Wars” series.

manny jacinto qimir the acolyte

First things first: I loved your character instantly when he was introduced in the show. So what went through your mind when you first landed the role and got to be part of the Star Wars franchise?

MANNY JACINTO: I mean, it was honestly a dream come true. It wasn’t a regular audition process. I literally just met with the showrunner, and we talked about the character. And, yeah, next thing you know, maybe a few months later, she left a voicemail on my phone asking if I wanted to be a part of the Star Wars project. And I was excited, jumping for joy, all the feelings. It was incredible. It was so surreal that somebody would ask me to hop in and join this incredible series.

You’ve described your character in previous interviews as just a “rizzless regular guy.” But from what I’ve seen so far, there’s depth to him that has yet to be uncovered later on in the series. So I just want to know: what were some of the challenges you faced in preparing for this role? And how was the experience like bringing the character to life?

MANNY: The challenges were primarily figuring out his physicality, like how he carries himself. When I was talking to Leslye [Headland] initially, we know he wanted an aloof comedic type of character that can be very much a juxtaposition to the stoic and a very serious Jedi. But it’s finding a fine line, because if you go too much, it gets a little too weird. So finding his physicality and his voice as well, [a voice] that still feels like Star Wars and not too crazy. I think those initial steps of finding his physicality and his voice were a challenge. But luckily, we had dialect coaches, we had movement coaches to help us out, which was really helpful.

Speaking of Qimir being a juxtaposition to the stoic and serious Jedi, how significant do you think he is in Mae’s life and in assisting her in her ambition to fulfill what was tasked by her master?

MANNY: Yeah, I think they definitely don’t like each other, or there’s definitely a conflict between the both of them, but they need each other. So Amandla [Stenberg] and I talk about this a lot, and we definitely approached it as brother and sister, [each other’s] sibling that you hate, but you have to get along with. That’s how we approached this relationship. It was very much like we don’t like each other, but we have to get through this in order to survive and please this master that Mae is trying to appease. So, yeah, they become pretty important to one another for their own survival.

So you’re like a secret third sibling.

MANNY: (laughs) Yeah. Yes. Yeah.

So one of the biggest lessons in “The Acolyte” that I’ve learned so far is standing up for what you want instead of doing what others want you to do. So has there ever been a moment when you had to make a difficult choice like that?

MANNY: Oh, yes! Constantly. I feel like… choosing not to pursue engineering was a big standing up point. Choosing to move on from dancing into acting was a big one. Choosing to move from Vancouver to Los Angeles. I think I’m constantly still running into these points where I have to stand up for myself and be like, this is a new challenge that I have to take on. And even right now, I am lucky that projects do tend to, though not always, come my way. But sometimes I’ll have to take a stand and be like, this isn’t creatively where I want to be or the path that I want to go towards or move towards. And you have to definitely stand up and voice your opinion or what your guts say.

Are some memorable moments on set while working with your co-stars that you could share with us?

MANNY: I remember that first scene with Amandla as Mae and being in that setting in the apothecary. And again, everything was practical [effects]. So we didn’t use a lot of CGI or special effects. It felt real. And I was like a kid in a candy store being able to just touch things and smell things and act within a world that was built, as opposed to having to constantly try and imagine things. And then again, switching it to playing with her Osha character and that dynamic… I think the introduction of both characters with each other, like Qimir and Mae, and Qimir and Osha, those are really special moments.

Did you actually get to hold a lightsaber, or did you wish you had?

MANNY: Yeah, no, I definitely have lightsaber envy and Jedi envy! I didn’t get to do all the cool stuff that Charlie [Barnett] and Dafne Keen got to do. But yeah, I just took their lightsaber and played with it and pretended to be a Jedi as well when I had some free time and maybe took some photos, some selfies with them just for the memories. But yeah, it It was cool. It was cool to be able to hold one of those things.

Last question for me. What do you hope that the audience will take home from this series?

MANNY: I just hope people enjoy it. I just hope people get the same feeling that kids get the same feeling that I did when I was a kid, watching “The Phantom Menace,” watching “A New Hope.” I just want the younger kids to be able to just be thrilled by “The Acolyte” and want to play around with lightsabers and to be Jedi or to be Sith. I just want them to have fun because I think that’s what it comes down to. I just hope people can just get away for a second and escape and be able to live in this galaxy for the 35 minutes that it provides every episode.

And you’re part of history now in “Star Wars!”

MANNY: Yeah, when you put it that way, it’s, yeah, it seems like a lot of responsibility. But yeah, no, I’m just… I’m very grateful. Very fortunate.

Well, congratulations and thank you again! It was a pleasure getting to speak with you. And I hope you get to visit the Philippines soon!

MANNY: Yeah, fingers crossed. We’ve got to do something over there. I always miss going back to the Philippines. Fingers crossed!

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“The Acolyte” is currently streaming on Disney+, with three episodes already up to watch.

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