Ewan McGregor, who played young Obi-Wan Kenobi (first portrayed by Sir Alec Guinness), opens up about how much people's perception of the Star Wars prequels have evolved over time. Directed and written by franchise creator George Lucas, the trilogy tackled the origins of Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) until he evolved to become Darth Vader from the original trilogy.
Releasing in a span six years, the first two movies were received with mixed reviews, but things got a bit better by the time the threequel rolled around. Still, they were a massive letdown for die-hard Star Wars fans who had been clamoring for brand new content from the beloved lore following its groundbreaking debut three decades prior. Most criticisms of all three installments were rooted on the overuse of exposition, as well as unbalanced storytelling. But 20 years after The Phantom of Menace hit theaters, people had mellowed down on the prequels - some even appreciate them now, and that makes McGregor glad
Speaking with Vanity Fair as part of its "25 Most Influential Movie Scenes of the Past 25 Years" list, McGregor recalled filming the Star Wars prequels on green screens and how he initially hated it, but Lucas was adamant to do something new leaving him no choice. He also admits that it hurt him that people were joking about the films before. Now, however, he feels vindicated seeing that the prequels are much more appreciated.
“Episode III was all green screen: they had us on green disks on a green floor with a green background, and a guy on the floor rotating us like chickens, as we lunged at each other with lightsabers. What keeps you emotionally grounded is the other actor. Episode II, I was on my own, speaking to thin air. But this scene was harrowing for Obi-Wan. I lose Anakin, and we see the danger of what it might lead to in Episodes IV, V, and VI. For all my moaning about green screen, I did enjoy playing Obi-Wan and this link to Alec Guinness. George Lucas wanted to do something very different with the prequels. That’s why people felt cheated. It was upsetting when people would laugh and joke about it. Now, many years later, the prequels meant a lot to the generation that were kids then. So from smirking, cynical opinions, now I’m getting feedback from the kids they were made for. I’m really happy about that.”
Amidst a slew of issues people had with the prequels, one would be hard pressed to find someone who didn't like McGregor's portrayal of Kenobi. So much so that up until now, fans are still holding out hope that he'll be back to reprise the character in his solo film. At one point, rumors were rife that Lucasfilm was already planning to go ahead and make the film, which would be set during his time in isolation as Ben Kenobi, but things haven't panned out yet. Following the underperformance of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Lucasfilm reportedly put other Star Wars anthology films on hold.
As badly told the Star Wars prequels were, they undoubtedly enriched the lore in ways that connect to Disney's modern trilogy. Nowadays, most fans are able to see past the prequels' faults and recognize their merits, chalking the films' shortcomings up to poor execution. There's no denying Anakin's fall from noble Jedi to the dark side was a good through-line for an anti-hero arc, so it's nice to see the prequels' reputation change over time.
Source: Vanity Fair
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019