New Delhi: British star Ewan McGregor says the new ”Star Wars” spin-off series ”Obi-Wan Kenobi” gave him a unique opportunity to explore an untold story that the fans of the legendary character were waiting for a long time.
McGregor’s ”Star Wars” journey started in the late 1990s when he became a sudden Hollywood star owing to his role of Mark Renton in Danny Boyle’s black comedy ”Trainspotting”.
Filmmaker George Lucas, who was developing a prequel trilogy to his original ”Star Wars” movies, spotted him and cast him to play the younger version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role made famous by Hollywood veteran Alec Guinness.
McGregor said when he joined the franchise in the 1990s, he was assured by Lucas that the character would progress, something that has finally happened with the Disney Plus series.
”When I was first doing episode one and George kept saying to me, ‘oh, don’t worry, it’s going to be fine. This part is going to grow.’ But I kept thinking that I was in ‘Star Wars’. I wasn’t thinking about it. I was like in some kind of a supporting role but still I was in ‘Star Wars’…
”For me, I was like a full blown character. And then it did grow through those three films that I made, but not nearly so much as now with this series. So George was right, although I don’t think even he realized this at the time,” McGregor told PTI in a Zoom interview.
The 51-year-old actor played the character in three films — ”The Phantom Menace” (1999), ”Attack of the Clones” (2002) and ”Revenge of the Sith” (2005).
”Obi-Wan Kenobi”, directed by Deborah Chow, is set 10 years after the events of ”Revenge of the Sith”, in which Anakin Skywalker had turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader, while Obi-Wan went into hiding on the fictional planet of Tatooine.
The show, McGregor said, explores the thread of an untold story between ”Revenge of the Sith” and the original ”Star Wars” series that started with ”A New Hope” in 1997, followed by the sequels ”The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and ”Return of the Jedi” (1983).
The actor believes the popularity of the character belongs to Guinness, who is still remembered for his portrayal of the legendary character in ”A New Hope”.
”I just think he’s (Obi Wan Kenobi) one of the originals and for me, it comes back to Alec Guinness. It was Alec Guinness who created this extraordinary character when I was a kid. I was six or seven when the first film came out. He was just like a mythical, wise man. He was like the wizard in a fairy tale.
”He did something witty and there’s a sort of glint in his eye. It can be a bit cheeky, but he’s a bit like a monk and spiritual. This is an incredible character that Alec Guinness created with George. And I just got an opportunity to try and play him younger later,” McGregor said.
He added that the new series brings him closer to Guinness’s version.
”This series brings me much closer to him. Like I’m older and closer in age to him. I mean, not really as there is still a long way to go. But a little bit closer in age to Alec Guinness than I was when I did the prequels. So, I hope people really like what we’ve done in terms of exploring some threads between episode three and four.” The actor said though he enjoyed every bit of working on his three ”Star Wars” movies, he had the ambition to go and do all kinds of work.
The actor, who has films such as ”Moulin Rouge!”, ”Black Hawk Down”, ”Big Fish”, ”Angels and Demons”, ”The Ghost Writer”, ”Beauty and the Beast”, and ”Doctor Sleep” as well as Netflix series ”Halston” to his credit, felt he was ready to take a dive back into the world of ”Star Wars”.
”I was just very lucky… I guess I also didn’t want it to define me when I was younger. I was 20 something when I made the first film. I didn’t want that to be it for me. I had other plans in terms of career and stuff, but I don’t have to worry about that anymore.
”I feel like there’s a huge wealth of people, millions of people that love ‘Star Wars’ and love the world of Star Wars as well as my character that I played in those films. So it’s nice to give those fans a story that they’d been waiting for. It feels good.” The six-episode series, which will premiere on Disney+ Hotstar on May 27 in India, takes Obi-Wan Kenobi to a dark place, the actor said.
”I thought it’d be interesting to take this character that we know and love and take him into a sort of broken place where he’s almost given up and isn’t practising the Force,” he added.
The actor, who also serves as a producer on the series, was full of praise for director Chow for steering the series in the right direction.
”Deborah Chow, our director, is so great and really honed the storytelling through the pre-production beautifully. She really knows what she’s doing. She knows this world inside out.
”It was also interesting as I’m a producer on this series as well. I had more input into it than I would normally have when I did in the original films. I felt like I was part of a team, not only as the actor, but one of the producers. So it was very satisfying,” McGregor said.
Showrun by Joby Harold, ”Obi-Wan Kenobi” will also feature original stars Hayden Christensen, Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse along with newcomers Moses Ingram, Indira Varma, Rupert Friend, and Sung Kang.