Sadly, the Obi-Wan Kenobi marketing campaign is nearing its conclusion. Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor were recently interviewed by William Mullally on the Esquire Middle East YouTube channel after attending several media engagements in Berlin and London.
Christensen was initially asked what it meant to him to return to Star Wars and the character of Darth Vader 17 years later:
“It meant a great deal to me, to come back. This is a character that has defined my life in so many ways, and getting to sort of continue my journey with him is just hugely meaningful. There wasn’t a lot to wrestle with, it was a pretty easy decision. When I got the phone call and the invitation to come back, it was a very quick yes.”Hayden Christensen
It’s been 10 years since Christensen last played the character in the Star Wars universe. Of course, Anakin/Vader has evolved, but so has the actor. Here’s how he believes his approach to playing him varies from that of the early 2000s:
“It’s hard to really define, but just the way we all sort of evolve over time and just… The time you have thinking about your work and processing it… This is a character that’s stayed with me, that I’ve sort of continued to think about over the years and so coming back to it and continuing my exploration… It’s been a very unique opportunity.”Hayden Christensen
When asked to elaborate on how the role has stayed with him despite the fact that he never expected to portray him again, Christensen said:
“Well, once you’re in Star Wars it never really leaves you. These stories and films have had an incredible impact on our culture and I’m always reminded of my involvement. And it’s a nice thing, my interaction with fans when they tell me what those films meant to them and what the character meant to them… So yes, it’s always been in my headspace and I’ve just really enjoyed getting to come back and further my journey with this character.
And he’s at a different time of his life too. When I was doing the prequels, it was very specific to Anakin Skywalker, and now coming back and getting to really explore the character of Darth Vader is such a cool thing.”Hayden Christensen
Christensen also explained how this era between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope of Anakin/Vader hasn’t really been explored on-screen yet:
“I mean, this is a point in the timeline that hasn’t been explored before. The character of Darth Vader is at a different point in his life, in terms of what’s happened before and where we left him in Episode III… He’s trying to reconcile his past, and hunting down the Jedi is obviously his job, he’s mandated by the Emperor, but it’s more than that. It’s a personal mission for him.”Hayden Christensen
Hayden then expressed his feelings about how the fandom has reacted to his return:
“I can’t really tell you what it means to me, but it’s a really neat thing. I guess the moral of the story is patience.”Hayden Christensen
Ewan McGregor then got his turn to chime in about how different he approached his character in this series compared to the Prequel films:
“Yeah, I think it all comes from Alec Guinness. I always think of him when I think of Obi-Wan Kenobi. I think [the lightness of spirit that Obi-Wan Kenobi had in the prequels] are in his performance. And also on the writing, I guess. George liked that and liked that relationship between him and Anakin.
At the beginning of this series, it’s ten years after the end of Episode III… He’s living a very solitary life, Obi-Wan. He’s lost all the people he knew and loved, they were either killed by Order 66 or are in hiding and unable to communicate with each other. Vader is trying to hunt down the very last Jedi to destroy them, so Obi-Wan is living a very normal life, he’s trying to not draw attention to himself. And mainly because his last responsibility was with Luke Skywalker and he’s overlooking Luke Skywalker, trying to be there to protect him, I guess, with maybe the vague idea that he could be a Jedi himself one day. Or maybe he feels responsible that he brought him to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, and he feels like he should be there. But also just doesn’t wanna draw attention to him.”Ewan McGregor
The Jedi Master concluded:
“I think it was very different playing him. The technology is so different now. We didn’t have blue screen or green screen anymore, and that was the main challenge of the original films. Not so much in I, but by the time you got to Episode II and III, you know, George was pioneering digital cameras. We shot the second episode on very early digital cameras, there were these huge umbilical cords coming out of them into the tent of the side of the stage that literally hummed, you could make so much noise… They were just on two technocrats, they would move the camera, zoom in and out, and we were ready to make the next set-up. It was just a very different experience than we were used to when we shot on film. But also when we shot on sets and on locations.
And it was difficult, I spent a lot of time on my own, acting off to a tennis ball on a stick. And this time we had this LCD screen that surrounded the stage, we were in the environments, at least virtually, that we were supposed to be in… And it was different, you know, I’m older, I’m closer in age (I mean, not really very close in age) to Alec Guinness, but I’m getting there. It was a different side of him, where the story starts… I also had the challenge of I have to become Alec Guinness, so when I’m playing this part that’s really my thought, ‘Does it feel like him?’ I know it’s me, but I like it to sound a bit like him, or feel a bit like him.”Ewan McGregor
Obi-Wan Kenobi debuts its first two episodes on Friday, May 27 on Disney+.