Joseph Fiennes has opened up about his Star Wars audition for Obi-Wan Kenobi. The venerable Jedi Master has appeared in the majority of the big-screen Star Wars films, as well as in multiple books, video games, and the animated series (and may yet star in the news movies).
In that time he's been brought to life on the big screen by two different actors; the older, original Obi-Wan was portrayed by Alec Guinness, while the younger version from the prequels is played by Ewan McGregor. While it may be hard to think of anyone else as the young Master Kenobi now, he wasn't the only actor up for the role back in the late '90s when the franchise was being revived for the big screen. While many actors were considered over the casting process, one in particular got very close: Joseph Fiennes.
Fiennes revealed that he was almost cast as Obi-Wan in an interview with The Wrap, where he also mentions that he was in the same drama school as McGregor at the time. While he doesn't reveal the exact reasons why Fiennes wasn't eventually cast, he puts it down to a bad impression that he made on the daughter of someone involved in the casting process:
"I auditioned for a great director. It was whittled down after many auditions to myself and another fine actor who I was at that time at drama school with. [At the final audition, I met] a lovely, delightful child. Must’ve been around age five — and he introduced me, ‘this is Joe and he’s quite possibly Obi-Wan Kenobi.' His daughter turned around and said ‘I don’t like this guy. He’s weird. I don’t like him.’ And that’s how my audition went."
The role went to McGregor and Fiennes went on to work on other projects, including the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love. The actor is now starring as the Commander in Hulu's hit series The Handmaid's Tale.
Of course, it's important to remember that this is a purely anecdotal story and it's highly unlikely that Fiennes's chances were completely ruined by the opinion of a single little girl. Indeed, Fiennes is probably putting a jokey spin on the outcome of the audition, rather than getting into the more serious reasons that the part went to McGregor in the end.
It's difficult to imagine Fiennes as Obi-Wan at this point in time, but his 1990s self had all elements of a young Alec Guinness. And in the 2010s, there's nothing stopping the actor from joining the Star Wars franchise now that it has been reinvigorated a second time. Based on comments by McGregor he won't be relinquishing the Obi-Wan role anytime soon, but in a universe as large as this one there are plenty of other characters Fiennes could play in future.
Source: The Wrap
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019