Entertainment Weekly have released the first official image of Darth Vader in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series, and sat down with both Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen to discuss the series. The article by EW is very in-depth and is worth reading, but here I’ll only cover a few segments.
The article reveals that Lucasfilm and Disney approached Ewan McGregor due to actor being vocal about returning to the role in various interviews, and once the agreement was made, Lucasfilm started work on a Kenobi movie with Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Reader) hired to direct, and Hossein Armini (Drive, 47 Ronin). The news of Daldry’s attachment broke in 2017, when Lucasfilm were in full swing regarding their A Star Wars Story movies. However upon the release of the commercial failure that was Solo: A Star Wars Story, future anthology movies were put on ice.
Kennedy reveals that once Bob Iger revealed Disney are going to make streaming a top priority for the company, ideas blossomed at Lucasfilm and multiple series were created, including Obi-Wan Kenobi. The plan was to begin filming in the Summer of 2020, but the article says that Kennedy shut the plans down in January of that year as she was concerned with the direction of the scripts. At the time there were rumours claiming the delay was due to the story being somewhat similar to The Mandalorian, but Kennedy says the reason was, “We’re looking, ultimately, to make a hopeful, uplifting story, And it’s tricky when you’re starting with a character in the state that Obi-Wan would be in coming off of Revenge of the Sith. That’s a pretty bleak period of time. You can’t just wave the magic wand with any writer and arrive at a story that necessarily reflects what you want to feel.” Kennedy began an overhaul of the series and hired Joby Harold (Army of the Dead, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) to rewrite the series, some elements carrying over from the previous interactions, with plans for a January 2021 start for filming.
Kathleen Kennedy reveals that Lucasfilm debated for quite sometime as to whether or not they should bring back Darth Vader for the story. However the choice was ultimately made to bring back Vader, with the studio believing Hayden Christensen was the only choice for the role, and director Deborah Chow met with the actor. Christensen said he and Chow spent an entire day chatting about the project and her vision, and he believed it sounded wonderful. Christensen recalls donning the iconic Vader suit again as “surreal”, and revealed we’ll be seeing a very powerful Vader, but says his most emotional moment came from seeing Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi again.
Christensen talked about Vader’s appearance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and revealed that he did not speak with Lucasfilm about returning to the role, “I wasn’t part of those conversations. But I loved what they did with it. The character predates me, and it’s always been a collective effort in a lot of ways. I thought it was brilliant.” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy added that Hayden was not even considered for the role for Rogue One because, “that was just such a specific action sequence.”
However Vader isn’t the only villain Kenobi will face in the series, as the trailer revealed we’ll see multiple Inquisitors led by the Grand Inquisitor. Joby Harold and Deborah Chow seem most excited by the addition of Reva, which the former says will contribute to the legacy of Star Wars villains in an interesting way, and that she’s ruthless and ambitious. When asked about the addition of cast members O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton), Indira Varma (Game of Thrones), and Maya Erskine (Pen15), the team remained tight lipped.
Deborah Chow iterates that the limited series was always approached to tell one full story, which it does. However Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy didn’t rule out the limited-series going further than the one season saying, “It’s certainly something we talk about. Mainly because everybody came together and had such an incredible time. Ewan had an incredible time. Hayden had an incredible time. So certainly from that point of view, everybody involved would love to see this not end. But we have to really spend our time asking the question: Why would we do it? If we were to decide to do anything more with the Obi-Wan character, we’d have to really answer the question why?”
Obi-Wan Kenobi releases on May 25th exclusively on Disney+. You can read the full article from EW, which I recommend you do, here.