After years of speculation and well over a decade of waiting, Ewan McGregor is back in the Star Wars universe as the lead of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Jedi master will star in his own self-titled limited series exclusively on Disney+, and it promises to be the television event of the year. The series re-teams McGregor with his prequel costar Hayden Christensen, a big deal in and of itself. How will Obi-Wan and Anakin reconnect onscreen? And what does that meeting look like now that Obi-Wan is on the run and Anakin is now Darth Vader? We’ll just have to wait and see.
As part of Disney+’s build-up to the premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi, McGregor took part in a press conference. Joining him was Moses Ingram, who plays the relentless Imperial Inquisitor Reva, and series director/showrunner Deborah Chow. Ingram may be new to Star Wars, having enlisted with the Empire after an Emmy-nominated turn in The Queen’s Gambit, but Chow’s becoming a bit of a Star Wars veteran. She directed two action-packed episodes of The Mandalorian Season 1, and now she’s turned her attention to Obi-Wan.
So, what did the stars and creator reveal during the press conference? Let’s break it down.
1. Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t the only character that interviewers have been bugging Ewan McGregor about over the past 15-ish years. “For years, I was asked two things: would I do the sequel to Trainspotting and would I ever play Obi Wan Kenobi again. It was always the last two questions as the publicist is poking her head around the door saying, ‘That’s the last question.’”
2. All of those interview questions, though? They worked. “Disney just asked me to come in one day for a meeting because they kept seeing on social media that I was saying that I would like to play Obi Wan Kenobi again, like I was sort of touting for work at Disney’s door, like, ‘Could you cast me?’ But anyway, they got me in and asked me if I meant it and I said yeah.”
3. Deborah Chow was drawn to the project because she loved the idea of getting to do a limited series. “I was the most excited about doing a character-driven story and really kind of having the opportunity to get more depth and have more time to really get to know the character.”
4. Moses Ingram described the script she initially read for Obi-Wan as “dangerous.” “[The scripts were] edgy and fun and cool, and I just you know I couldn’t say no… I was surprised. I mean, from what I knew of Star Wars, I didn’t realize it was that dangerous. It felt dangerous when I was reading and I was like, ‘Oh, I like this. I’m into this.’”
5. Obi-Wan has a crisis of faith while in hiding, McGregor said. “He can’t communicate with any of his old comrades and he’s living a pretty solitary life. He’s not able to use the Force, so in a way he’s lost his faith. It’s like somebody who stepped away from their religion or something, if you like, and the only the only responsibility to his past life is looking over Luke Skywalker.”
6. Chow always knew that the show had to included Anakin Skywalker in some way. “The history coming out of Revenge of the Sith is so strong and it’s so powerful that it really felt like for us that, you know, obviously, there’d be so much weight coming into the story that was connected to Anakin Vader. So I think it just felt natural, obviously there would be Hayden [Christensen], and that we would continue this relationship in the series.”
7. McGregor and Christensen rekindled their onscreen chemistry effortlessly, said McGregor. “When I saw [Hayden] again and was able to talk about this project with him, it was very very exciting. And when we were acting together, it was really like some sort of time warp. Really, just looking across the set at him, it was like the last 17 years didn’t happen at all. It was really peculiar.”
8. Ingram had four months of physical training to get prepared to play Reva, and she trained alongside McGregor. Ingram: “We trained for about four months before we ever even got to set. Every day [we did] regular strength and cardio, and then three days a week of Jedi school on top of that — which at the beginning was a little intimidating because I come in and we’re doing a lightsaber work and of course, [Ewan’s] been doing this for years, so he’s like, flipping it and wielding it and I’m like, ‘God, I’m never gonna get it. I look terrible.’ But you know, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”
9. Obi-Wan’s fighting style from the prequels was analyzed and built upon for the series. McGregor: “[Jonathan Eusebio], our fight coordinator, is really an amazing, thoughtful man. And he’s taken the fights that we did in the original three films and he sort of studied them with his stunt crew and develop them. So it’s very thoughtful. It’s not just random. [He’s] really a thinking fight arranger, which was cool to work on.”
10. Deborah Chow’s experience working with the Volume — the soundstage-sized all-encompassing LED screens that can drop actors in any setting — on The Mandalorian prepared her for Obi-Wan Kenobi, but the tech’s way more evolved. Chow: “A lot of the tech has advanced so much. So every passing year there’s advances, so by the time we came to do Kenobi, there were things that we could do that we couldn’t do on the first season [of The Mandalorian].”
11. John Williams’ score from previous Star Wars films is blasted on set while filming key scenes. Ingram: “It was sick too, because we’d be like stepping off the ship or doing something else and the music would swell and you just feel like you’re ten feet tall.” This is exactly what Chow hoped the music would accomplish. “We did it because the music brings the emotional component, and what John Williams has done has been so inextricably tied to Star Wars,” Chow said. “We put it on and I see Moses grow like two inches taller. Everybody responds to it.”
12. Ewan McGregor had to find Obi-Wan’s voice again — literally. When McGregor showed up to the Mandalorian set to do a few screen tests with some actors, he realized he was going to have to work on that Alec Guinness accent. McGregor: “I just did a sort of vague English [accent] and it wasn’t really Obi-Wan’s voice at all. And I was like, ‘Oh, dear. That’s not very good.’ Luckily we had months before we actually started shooting so I went back and did some homework with Alec Guinness, what I’d done before on the original [prequel] films.”
13. Playing a new character, Ingram got to have greater input into Reva’s look — and that included making the character’s hair similar to her own. Ingram: “Her hair was different in the initial envisioning of the character, and it was just something that my hair didn’t do naturally. But they were so great about hearing me out on that and that’s how we ended up with the braids. It’s really important for me to do what my hair does.”
14. Okay, diehard Star Wars fans, here’s the quote from Deborah Chow that you’ve been waiting for: “I think the biggest thing we were looking [to do] is to respect the canon and respect what’s been done, but we also needed to have an original story and have an original vision for it. I think that was the biggest challenge, but at the same time, it’s very exciting that we were bringing back two of these huge iconic characters and telling a new story with them.”
15. Obi-Wan Kenobi sure does sound like a thriller when Moses Ingram talks about it: “The thing as a whole — and it’s hard because you can’t say exactly what’s happening — but the the cat and mouse of it all and so many moving parts in it, and the places that we are in, the people that are involved — I really wish I could say more!”
Matt Kennedy / Lucasfilm Ltd.
16. Deborah Chow sees Obi-Wan as a character of light now shrouded in darkness: “With the character of Kenobi, for me he’s always felt like there’s so much warmth. There’s so much compassion, humor — [he] is kind of a character of light and hope. It was interesting for us to try to keep the balance of that of the darkness but also still maintaining the hope coming from the character.”
17. Ewan McGregor loved the scripts because he could hear Alec Guinness saying all of Obi-Wan’s lines: “That’s why I think the writing was so so good in this because right from the word go, all of his stuff, to me it could have been Alec Guinness saying it. Then I knew we were on the right path, at least with [Obi-Wan].”
18. McGregor said that filming Obi-Wan didn’t feel like making a TV show. McGregor: “The beauty of [Obi-Wan Kenobi] being a series is that we’ve got longer to tell the story. But because Deb directed them all, and it’s her singular vision throughout, it did feel like we were just making one movie. And the episodic nature of our series falls really cleverly in the storyline.”
19. While Attack of the Clones may have been cutting-edge digital technology for 2002, the film’s digital cameras hummed so loudly that every single line of dialogue had to be re-recorded in post. McGregor: “It was so noisy and in post production, they realized that the noise they made was exactly in the frequency of the human voice. So we had to ADR every single line of Episode II. None of the original dialogue made it through because the cameras were so new. None of the bugs had been worked out yet. So that compared to what we’re doing now, it’s like night and day really.”
20. Deborah Chow compared Obi-Wan Kenobi to The Joker or Logan — not tonally, just because those are films wherein an ensemble character takes the lead. Chow: “I think I was the most excited about getting the opportunity to do a character-driven story, in a similar way, obviously a different tone, but something like Joker or Logan where you take one character out of a big franchise and then you really have the time and you go a lot deeper with the character. That seemed really exciting to get to do in Star Wars.”
21. One Star Wars movie in particular did have a stylistic influence on Obi-Wan Kenobi, and it might not be one you’d think. Chow: “One of the ones I think is really interesting visually is Rogue One. And I was really looking a lot at the atmospheric sense in that, in a lot of the visuals, which was pretty awesome.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres Friday, May 27 on Disney+.
Stream Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+