Why Obi-Wan Couldn't Appear In The Last Jedi
Sadly, the wish to see Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi reunite was not fulfilled in The Last Jedi - and it may never be by any Star Wars film (unless Luke returns as a Force Ghost). Director Rian Johnson has already addressed the practical reasons for why he chose not to include Obi-Wan and they are perfectly understandable. For starters, Sir Alec Guinness - who portrayed Obi-Wan across all three original Star Wars films - passed away in 2000, making it nearly impossible for him to reprise the role. It's only nearly impossible because Disney has already dabbled in just such a possibility, although the overall response is still a little mixed.
In Rogue One, Lucasfilm film used motion-capture to recreate the on-screen presence of the deceased Peter Cushing for the role of Grand Moff Tarkin. While the CGI was a technological marvel, it's a practice that remains up for debate; not only are there some ethical questions which surround digitally resurrecting dead actors, but the final result still falls into the uncanny valley. Tarkin's role in Rogue One is a significant one, too, but even the small cameo appearance of Princess Leia - achieved in the same way, with an actor performing motion-capture onset and later replaced by a CGI creation - showed that this technology currently has its limitations. For a scene as crucial as the one on Ahch-To, there needs to be minimal distraction. As it happens, the look of the Yoda puppet used for the scene already caused a bit of stir, and digitally recreating Guinness would have certainly caused a much larger one, zapping the scene of the necessary emotion.
Along those same lines, were The Last Jedi to employ another actor - even Ewan McGregor, who portrayed the young Obi-Wan in the prequels - the result would have been similar. The scene would have featured Luke and Obi-Wan, but it wouldn't have Mark Hamill acting alongside Guinness and therefore not his Obi-Wan. Much of the emotional connection shared between the characters comes from their actors, and Hamill and McGregor, while both fine actors, may not recreate the desired relationship. Plus, if Ewan McGregor someday does reprise the role of Obi-Wan for a solo film or other project, Disney may wish to hold the reveal of how McGregor's older portrayal of Obi-Wan will look and act.
Indeed, Yoda being once again performed by Frank Oz is a large reason why the scene works as well as it does; filming such a pivotal scene with another actor would have felt inauthentic and hollow, ruining the moment altogether.
Not including Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Last Jedi will always stand as an enormous missed opportunity, but it's one where those involved can't really be faulted for making the decisions they did. Perhaps in another medium - for instance, the upcoming novelization of The Last Jedi by Jason Fry or the comic book adaptation by Gary Whitta and Michael Walsh - there can be some scene between Luke and Obi-Wan, bringing as heartwarming a conclusion to that relationship as was given to Luke and Yoda. But as it stands now, The Last Jedi cannot offer any such closure, leaving it to fans to fill in the gaps with their own version of events, told from their own certain point of view.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Obi-Wan Kenobi release date: