Ewan McGregor on Star Wars, Kenobi, and the Prequels
There are many reasons to like the Prequel Trilogy, but Ewan McGregor might be topping the list….
When my own Star Wars Renaissance happened — pretty much as soon as the “Special Editions” hit cinemas (as I finished college in, gasp, 1997) — I was intrigued by the notion we’d learn all about what Obi-Wan Kenobi was talking about in A New Hope when he described the fall of the Jedi, the fall of Anakin Skywalker.
“He was the best star pilot in the galaxy and a cunning warrior… And he was a good friend,” recited a thoughtful-looking Alec Guinness’ Kenobi as he decides to give Anakin’s lightsaber to Luke. “Which reminds me, I have something here for you.”
“Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn’t allow it,” continued Kenobi. “He feared you might follow old Obi-Wan on some damn fool idealistic crusade like your father did.”
Luke, of course, wants to know more about his father, specifically Anakin’s “death.”
“A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights,” said Obi-Wan (of course, from a certain point of view). “He betrayed and murdered your father.
“Now the Jedi are all but extinct.”
So we went into the Prequels thinking we would see all of the above – which lasted about half a movie (and spawned a seven-season animated project to fill out the story).
Instead, we got a much different setup than most imagined. And a different hero.
McGregor Stole The Show
Perhaps unintentionally, rather than Anakin being the most interesting ongoing character (Qui-Gon and Darth Maul “died” too early, IMHO), Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi stole the show. That said, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ewan said it “was hard they didn’t get well received.”
“That was quite difficult,” admitted McGregor. “They were universally not very much liked.”
However, the wide-ranging piece by THR’s Seth Abramovitch, which speaks to McGregor’s life outside the movies, and his upcoming project (filmed just before Kenobi), does much to explain why Episodes I – III are so popular in retrospect.
Long story short, Ewan’s charisma is palpable. It simply pours off the page. Thank goodness, too. Because the emotion didn’t exactly leap out of the prose he had to work with back in 1999.
McGregor said the Prequel’s dialogue was “not Shakespeare.” Now, he sounds excited to have another crack at his character and it’s clear Ewan retains great pride in his depiction of Kenobi. Moreover, he is ready to don the robes again and said it was difficult to keep his mouth shut as the Kenobi project bounced around pre-production status for years.
As such, Ewan is thrilled to return to the desert, particularly because technology has caught up with the imagination of Star Wars.
“They project [the virtual backgrounds] onto this massive LED screen,” said McGregor in contrast to his previous Star Wars experience, which was spent in front of many a green screen. “So if you’re in a desert, you’re standing in the middle of a desert. If you’re in the snow, you’re surrounded by snow. And if you’re in a cockpit of a starfighter, you’re in space.
“It’s going to feel so much more real,” he added.
Much More Real
Obi-Wan and McGregor fans around the world agree.
In fact, when Kenobi says, “Hello there…” for the first time, it will be a pinch-me moment for just about everyone.
Feature Image: Ewan McGregor Photographed by Harper Smith for The Hollywood Reporter.