Why Ewan McGregor MUST Return to Play Obi-Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Revenge of the Sith

At last, we know for certain that Lucasfilm has heard fans' cries and is planning a standalone Obi-Wan Kenobi film. Obi-Wan is one of the few characters in all of Star Wars lore who manages to maintain a pure heart, with his nobility and integrity intact. Even the highest-profile heroes of the saga have largely existed in shades of grey.

But for such a beloved character, fans know surprisingly little about him. What was his birth and childhood like? Did he have any living family while he was a Jedi? How did he pass the time while living alone on Tatooine? Some Marvel comics and an episode of Star Wars Rebels (in an episode that proved the character still has plenty of stories left to tell) filled in a few blank spots, but there are many years of his life that remain unaccounted for.

Nothing is currently known about what direction Disney and Lucasfilm intend to take with the Obi-Wan movie. No script has been written — or even screenwriters announced for putting pen to paper — so anything is possible. But Kathleen Kennedy's Lucasfilm is a well-oiled machine at this point with very clear ideas of what it does and does not want to produce. So even if it's nothing but preliminary brainstorming among the Story Group... There's got to be some inkling of an idea or two floating around those offices.

Will they rewind in time, and give us a "life story" of Obi-Wan leading up to his becoming the apprentice of Qui-Gon Jinn? Or will they give us a brand new tale about an older Obi-Wan, living on Tatooine and watching over Luke Skywalker from afar? He lived there for almost 20 years, and that's a very long time. Surely at some point, a crisis arose that required him to leave the planet for a bit and undertake some all-important, and possibly deeply personal, mission?

Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars A New Hope

When we first met Obi-Wan, as played by the late Alec Guinness, he was a kindly warrior monk. He was the guy in the room who always knew more than anyone else, the mentor possessing wisdom and grace that he was passed on to Luke Skywalker. He returned a couple of times as a ghost to converse with Luke, but never really got much screen time.

Unfortunately, the part of Star Wars film history that Obi-Wan is most closely associated with are the despised prequels. Ewan McGregor, a "serious" actor's actor, gave his all to the part of an Obi-Wan that went from young adulthood to middle age. But there's only so much even the greatest of actors can do when given a cookie-cutter script and wooden direction.

As awful as the prequels were, the vast majority of fans still consider McGregor to be the best part of them. When the prequels were first being planned, and it was announced that Ewan McGregor had been cast as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, it was exciting news. McGregor was such a brilliant choice for an iconic character - a gifted actor whom everyone knew would not only do justice to the part, but even elevate it.

Unfortunately, when the prequels arrived it quickly became clear that McGregor's talents (and those of many others) had been wasted on a production that cared more about CGI eye candy than character motivation and development. McGregor was always a joy to watch regardless, whether he was keeping hot-headed Anakin in line, or engaging in some blisteringly fierce lightsaber battles — which, as true fans know, McGregor performed himself. But watching him in the prequels is bittersweet; we love him for displaying real talent in a soulless film series, but we long for what he could have done with stronger material.

Call it, very possibly, the most bitterly missed opportunity in Star Wars history.

That's why Lucasfilm would be seriously remiss in ignoring this golden opportunity to right a wrong and give fans what they've wanted for decades: Obi-Wan Kenobi starring in his own movie, in a story with real drama that's worthy of Ewan McGregor's talents.

Obi-Wan Kenobi as he appeared on Star Wars Rebels

McGregor has stated repeatedly that he would gladly return to the role of Obi-Wan if Lucasfilm gave him a reason to. In other words, if they write it, he will come. Thankfully, that may just happen.

The person Lucasfilm is considering to spearhead the Obi-Wan movie is director Stephen Daldry, the man who gave the world "serious" films like Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader, and more. Daldry has never in his 20+ year career done a big-budget, blockbuster, effects-heavy movie. Instead, he's got indie cred and knows his way around real, human drama.

If Lucasfilm wants McGregor to jump on board — really on board, heart and soul — then what this production needs is credibility. The promise of a story with substance. Could it be that Lucasfilm is trying to hire a director known for drama over spectacle at least partly to reassure McGregor that another Star Wars movie is worth his time?

No production timeframe or release date has been set for the Obi-Wan movie, though the smart money has it penciled in on Lucasfilm's calendar for its 2020 release (aka, the one after Episode IX). So it will be a while before Lucasfilm's intentions for the movie become known.

Whatever it is, Ewan McGregor had better be a major part of it

Next: Obi-Wan Movie In The Works From Billy Elliot Director

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