Ewan McGregor reveals how Alec Guinness will influence his portrayal of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the new Disney+ Star Wars show Kenobi. A great stage and screen star even before taking a trip to a galaxy far far away, Guinness only cemented his reputation as a legend with his performance as strange old hermit Ben Kenobi in George Lucas’ 1977 blockbuster.
The character of Obi-Wan Kenobi was of course pivotal in setting up the Star Wars saga, serving as mentor for Luke Skywalker while providing a connection between Luke and his father Anakin, later revealed to be Darth Vader. Indeed, when Lucas decided to revisit his Star Wars universe for a trio of films focusing on Anakin’s transformation into the iconic black-masked Sith Lord, Kenobi too returned with McGregor taking on the role. Though many were disappointed by the prequel films and how they tracked Anakin’s fall, most agreed that McGregor’s performance as Kenobi was a rare strong element amid the general weakness of the films. Now, McGregor is set to once again don Kenobi’s Jedi robes in a new Disney+ series that picks up the character in the years between the prequels and the original Star Wars.
It remains to be seen how Kenobi will bridge the gap between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars storywise, but McGregor himself seems to already have a good idea of how he will depict his character. During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, McGregor talked about how Guinness’ portrayal of Kenobi influenced his own performance in the prequels, and briefly discussed how Guinness will continue guiding his work on the new show. He said (via Coming Soon):
“The fun thing about doing them in the first place, when I was much younger, was trying to imagine Alec Guinness – how would he play these scenes as a younger guy. And it led me to watch a lot of his early work, which I hadn’t seen before. Brilliant movies, wonderful films that he’d been in…and I just had such a great time sort of studying him in those movies… So as you say. I’m much closer in age to him and it will be my challenge to try and sort of meet him somewhere. I love Alec Guinness, I never got to meet him, but I love him through his work and it’s a great honor to sort of try and pretend to be him.“
Amid on-going coronavirus-related concerns, Kenobi is reportedly set to begin shooting in March, so McGregor still has a few months to continue preparing ahead of filming. Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy has already confirmed that the show will last for just one season, so McGregor will only have a handful of episodes in which to explore his more mature and perhaps embittered take on the character.
Fans unfortunately have been given little else to go on in guessing how Kenobi will tackle its central character and the Star Wars universe in general. McGregor’s statements definitely indicate that his take on Kenobi will be closer to Guinness’ portrayal in Star Wars, when Kenobi was in hiding on Tatooine, and was considered by the locals to be a weird solitary man living among the rocks. But McGregor also indicates he will not fully be the Kenobi of the original trilogy, as he intends to “meet” Guinness somewhere, presumably a middle-ground between the shell-shocked Kenobi at the end of the prequels and the older, more Zen version fans encountered in 1977. Not only will McGregor’s depiction be fascinating to see, it will also be very interesting to witness the adventures Kenobi sends the character on, as it’s unlikely the series will simply stick him in a cave waiting for Luke Skywalker to show up (even though, realistically, that’s probably all he would’ve been doing for the years between the action of the prequels and the original film).
Source: The Graham Norton Show (via Coming Soon)