Ewan McGregor says reprising Obi-Wan Kenobi role a ‘different experience’

His new series is part of a collection of live-action Star Wars shows being created for Disney+.
Ewan McGregor says reprising Obi-Wan Kenobi role a ‘different experience’

By Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

Ewan McGregor said reprising the role of Star Wars icon Obi-Wan Kenobi after almost two decades was a “different experience”.

The Scottish actor heads the cast of the Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series for Disney+ returning to the character he played in the three Star Wars prequels from 1999 to 2005.

McGregor, 51, said of the new production: “The writing I think was very good in this series.

“The script went through lots of different iterations, it was going to be a movie it was, it was going to be directed by Stephen Daldry at one point and then Deborah Chow became the director.

“I think after a long process of the film being a movie and then being a TV show, and several different storyline iterations, we ended up with a really good one.

“There was a lot of time and effort spent on the writing. I always felt like my lines were very Alec Guinness-y, I always felt like him and that’s a good sign for me.”

Obi-Wan Kenobi appeared in the first six Star Wars films, played by late theatre and film great Sir Alec in episodes IV-VI from 1977 to 1983, and then by McGregor in episodes I-III.

The Scottish actor added: “It was a different experience technologically now as opposed to technologically 20 years ago, so of course it is a different world.”

The actor revealed it was the fans’ reaction to the prequel films years after they came out that encouraged him to reprise the role.

Obi-Wan Kenobi photocall – London
Ewan McGregor (Ian West/PA)

He said: “I became aware of the sort of warmth that there is for the prequels – when they came out, we didn’t have that sense.

“When they came out, there was no social media, I wasn’t aware of how the fans felt about the films, all I knew was that the critics didn’t like them, or what was written about the films was always negative.

“I’ve never been one to sort of look for fan reactions, but the noise we had coming back from the original films was pretty dire.

“The critics decided that they didn’t like them, that they were too different from the original Star Wars films of the 70s.

“We spent all this time and effort making the best we could out of old-fashioned technology, and it was difficult to do.

“After all that effort and also the excitement of being cast as Obi Wan Kenobi in the first place, to be stepping into the shoes of Guinness and to be going into that big world of Star Wars and then for it to get a bad reaction, it was hard, and it’s taken years to start hearing and feeling the sort of the warmth that there is for those films from really the people we made them for.

“It felt nice after waiting such a long time to feel that sort of warmth for them, it meant something to me, and it was definitely part of my decision to want to do it again.”

McGregor revealed he watched all the original Star Wars films and listened to audio of Sir Alec’s performances when returning to the role they shared.

“The first time I had to play Obi Wan Kenobi again was for a casting session.

“I got down there to the studio, and they put a sort of Obi-Wan-esque costume hanging up in the wardrobe, it wasn’t really the stuff that I’d worn before, but it was similar.

“I put that on, and it was first time I’d worn his clothes for 17 years so that was kind of weird looking in the mirror and thinking ‘here we go’.

“I walked out on set and of course, nowadays, what’s lovely is a lot of the crew are real Star Wars fans, so there was a sort of a buzz as I walked out on set as Obi Wan for the first time.

“I started doing these scenes with these actors and I just didn’t have his voice, I hadn’t really prepared enough. It just didn’t sound like him.

“So that’s when I started going back into all the original movies, I got them to make a sound file with just all Alec Guinness’ lines from all the three films that he did, and it’s not a lot you know.”

The actor also praised Sir Alec, who died n 2000, for his ability to be in only a “handful of scenes” but remain such a beloved character.

The new Star Wars spin-off series begins 10 years after the events of the film Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith where Kenobi faced the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker.

The series is part of a collection of live-action Star Wars shows being created for Disney+.

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