Ewan McGregor agrees with one of the biggest fan complaints about the Star Wars prequels.
Speaking about his return to playing Obi-Wan Kenobi for a new Disney+ series, the actor shares how, like many, he felt the CGI overload in Episodes I-III hampered his performance.
Ewan and Obi-Wan
It’s sometimes forgotten that McGregor had a connection to Star Wars long before the prequels were made.
His uncle is Denis Lawson, who played Wedge Antillies, the only pilot besides Luke to survive the original attack on the Death Star. Lawson reprised the role in the sequels and briefly brought Wedge back for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, McGregor mentioned how his uncle had warned him that taking a role in Star Wars could overwhelm the rest of his career. However, he was still intent on playing the younger Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace.
McGregor soon became upset that the movies went from practical sets to an abundance of CGI in almost every scene, requiring McGregor to act against bluescreen to non-existent characters.
“It’s because George loves technology and loves pushing into that realm. He wanted more and more control over what we see in the background. After three or four months of that, it just gets really tedious — especially when the scenes are … I don’t want to be rude, but it’s not Shakespeare. There’s not something to dig into in the dialogue that can satisfy you when there’s no environment there. It was quite hard to do.”
The actor acknowledged how the prequels “were universally not liked,” although their reputation has improved over the years. Yet the overload of CGI remains a common fan complaint on the trilogy.
Among the various projects announced by Lucasfilm in 2017 was a solo Obi-Wan movie. After 2018’s Solo underperformed at the box office, it was shifted to become a Disney+ show.
McGregor is much happier about the special effects for the series, which utilize the same style as the Mandalorian, called StageCraft, so “they project [the virtual backgrounds] onto this massive LED screen. So if you’re in a desert, you’re standing in the middle of a desert. If you’re in the snow, you’re surrounded by snow. And if you’re in a cockpit of a starfighter, you’re in space. It’s going to feel so much more real.”
McGregor had been attached to the project almost from the start but acknowledged he had to keep it quiet for the press. “I’d see stuff on social media like, ‘They better cast Ewan as Obi-Wan,’ and I wasn’t able to say anything,” he says. “But it was pretty humiliating to think that [Disney] might be thinking about casting someone else.”
The series is set exactly halfway between Episodes III and IV, with Obi-Wan watching a young Luke Skywalker. When asked if Luke himself will cameo, McGregor was naturally sketchy, merely saying, “It’s very possible.”
It appears the closer he gets to playing the older Obi-Wan, the more comfortable in the role McGregor has become to make it better than ever.
Obi-Wan is set to debut on Disney+ in 2022.