J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens obviously leaned on the nostalgia of the original trilogy to sell moviegoers on the return to a galaxy far, far away, but the production team wanted to make sure that all aspects of the saga's history were acknowledged. Concept art from the film featured an Anakin Skywalker Force ghost (modeled after Hayden Christensen) that was torn between the Dark and Light sides. While that never came into fruition, Abrams found another way to tip his hat to the prequels: having Ewan McGregor reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Shortly after The Force Awakens was released, word got out that the voice of Obi-Wan could be heard during Rey's (Daisy Ridley) Force vision, with the Jedi Master telling the young scavenger that "these are your first steps." The audio wizards of Star Wars 7 even managed to manipulate an instance of the late Alec Guinness saying "afraid" into "Rey," to combine the old and young versions of Kenobi for the new movie. McGregor recently discussed the process of creating the line.
While on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote the new Western, Jane Got a Gun, McGregor was asked about his return to the Star Wars franchise. He explained how he came to be involved with the project, which wasn't until the latest stages of post-production:
"I recorded a line for it. It was very late in the day. I had been waiting for the call to come for two years. It was like, 'maybe they've lost my agent's phone number or something.' And then I got a call just shortly before it was released by J.J. and he asked me to come in. He said, 'I'd love for you to be a part of it and for you to be in it. And there's a sequence where we can use a voice, like we hear Obi-Wan Kenobi's voice coming from the distance reaches of the Force.' I was like, 'Yeah! I'd love to be in it, I've just been waiting for your call.' And I went in, I was able to see some of it before anyone else had seen it. Very impressed. And then I recorded a line for it."
Kimmel followed up with a query about the melding of McGregor's voice with Guinness, which McGregor was highly impressed by:
"The line is, 'Rey. These are your first steps.' But they got Alec Guinness to do 'Rey,' which is extraordinary because he's not alive anymore... [laughs]. They got a line of him as Obi-Wan Kenobi saying 'afraid' and then they just cut the 'a' and the 'd' off and got that 'Rey...' And then they used that. So Alec Guinness is saying 'Rey' and then I say, 'these are your first steps.'
While there's nothing too revealing in McGregor's recollection of the story, it makes for a fun tidbit about the film's production. For fans of the oft-maligned prequels, it's nice to see that Abrams was intent on having the actor be a part of the movie. Pre-release videos and interviews gave the impression that the new era of Star Wars was more about embracing the original trilogy roots with practical effects and a "genuinely magical" tone. But Lucasfilm is aware that all the previous movies are important to the overarching narrative of the Skywalker saga, so McGregor's inclusion is a subtle way of recognizing it all and not just the parts viewers want to recall.
Watching the video, it's apparent McGregor's enthusiasm for the series has not waned in the years since he starred in Revenge of the Sith, which isn't surprising. Last year, when rumors were circulating about a possible Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff film, McGregor mentioned that he would happily play the Jedi again if asked. His performances in the prequels rank among the highlights of that trilogy, so that's something fans would most likely want to see as well. Given that McGregor still has a passion for Star Wars and a good relationship with Lucasfilm, it might be too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now playing in theaters, and will be followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Jimmy Kimmel Live!