With The Mandalorian having kickstarted a new age of small-screen Star Wars spin-offs, one of the next projects in the offing is one that fans – particularly supporters of the prequel movies – have been waiting on for years… a spin-off featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi, with Ewan McGregor reprising his role as the Jedi Master for a brand new series on Disney+.
Though production hiccups – and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic – have led to delays, it’s now been confirmed that filming will finally begin on the Obi-Wan series in early 2021.
“I’m very excited to do it again – I’m probably more excited about it this time round,” McGregor told Radio Times.
“I’m older, slightly wiser, maybe. The great fun part of it the first time was to try and be Alec Guinness, but younger. That was the acting challenge, as well as learning all the tricky fights.
“Now I’m much closer in age to him – I guess he was in his 60s when he made the first Star Wars film, and I’m about to be in my 50s. Don’t tell anybody!”
“So now I’ll be able to bridge that gap a bit more, and it’ll be fun to find him in that place.”
Not too much is known about the series so far, but recent information suggests that the series could be a standalone miniseries rather than a continuing one, with Ewan McGregor claiming that it would be a one-and-done in a new interview with Entertainment Tonight.
The star also revealed filming could be getting underway in the not too distant future, announcing it was currently scheduled to begin in the spring of next year.
The Scottish actor had previously told The Wrap how excited he was to get the chance to reprise the iconic role.
“The more I realise what I’m part of, in a way, I think in the time when you’re young, you treat it like, ‘It’s just another movie like all the other ones I’m making,'” he said.
“But now, looking back on it, you can see you’re involved in something quite huge in the Star Wars, I don’t like the word franchise, but this sort of fable or legend, or whatever you might call it.”
The series has been hit by a fair few delays already, but with Kathleen Kennedy recently hinting things were coming together, it’s time to start asking all the questions we need answered.
So when exactly will we see McGregor in action? What is the plot of the new series? And what’s with all the delays? Read on for everything we know so far about Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
When is the Obi-Wan Kenobi series’ Disney+ release date?
The currently untitled show doesn’t yet have a release date. However, at Disney D23, LucasFilm’s Kathleen Kennedy announced all scripts are written and filming will begin in 2020.
The series was due to launch on the streaming platform Disney+. However, there have since been reports of push-backs, with The Hollywood Reported revealing in January that there had been issues with the scripts and that pre-production was halted mid-way through various actors’ screen-tests opposite star McGregor. McGregor himself has since denied these reports, calling them “bulls**t”.
In February 2020, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that the Obi Wan series was still in active development, and the latest plan is for filming to begin again in early 2021.
And then in August 2020, Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy revealed that work was underway on the project, telling The Wrap that it was being developed as a limited series.
She said, “It’s been very exciting to see the talent that’s come in. And we’re now developing the limited Obi-Wan Kenobi series with Deborah Chow, and she’s just been doing a phenomenal job.”
Ewan McGregor also said that the show was likely to be a limited series, telling Entertainment Tonight in September 2020 that, “As I understand, it’s a standalone season,” but adding, “We’ll see. Who knows?”
He also revealed when the series was due to start filming, saying, “Spring next year we start. I’m really excited about it. It’s gonna be great, I think.”
McGregor gave a further filming update in October, confirming during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show that filming will get underway in March 2021.
“I’m much closer in age to [Alec Guinness] and it will be my challenge to try and meet [his Obi-Wan] somewhere,” he explained.
Who’s in the cast of the Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series?
Ewan McGregor has been confirmed to play Obi-Wan Kenobi once more. He played the character in the Star Wars prequel trilogy movies, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
Obi-Wan was first played by Alec Guinness – who died in 2000 – in the original Star Wars 1977 movie.
“Now I’m closer in age [to] when he did the first one… I think it’ll be really interesting now to go through that experience again and to start watching Alec Guinness,” McGregor said.
“Now I’ll have to watch Alec Guinness’ work when he was in his 40’s and 50’s.”
Currently no other casting has been officially confirmed, though rumours abound that Hayden Christiansen could return to play Obi-Wan’s fallen apprentice Anakin Skywalker.
There were also whispers that Ahsoka Tano – another Jedi apprentice from the Clone Wars animated series – could make an appearance played by Rosario Dawson, though it now seems like this casting may have been for The Mandalorian instead.
How will they film the Kenobi series?
In a recent interview, McGregor shed some light on what filming processes would be used to create the series, with the crew borrowing the dynamic background screen techniques used regularly in fellow Disney+ series The Mandalorian.
“They employ that incredible screen, and I don’t even begin to know how it works, but it’s pretty amazing, y’know,” he told ACE Universe.
“And so when you’re on set, if you’re in a snowscape or something, well, when you look around, you see that. And it makes you feel like you’re in the place; I think it’s going to be more, it’s going to feel realer for us, for the actors. And I think we’ll be using some of that technology on our show.”
Who’s making the series?
— Star Wars (@starwars) September 27, 2019
LucasFilm have announced that Deborah Chow will direct the series. Chow, who recently worked on fellow Star Wars Disney+ series The Mandalorian, has also directed episodes of Mr Robot, American Gods, Jessica Jones, Fear the Walking Dead, Better Call Saul and The Man in the High Castle.
“We really wanted to select a director who is able to explore both the quiet determination and rich mystique of Obi-Wan in a way that folds seamlessly into the Star Wars saga,” LucasFilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a release.
“Based on her phenomenal work developing our characters in The Mandalorian, I’m absolutely confident Deborah is the right director to tell this story.”
The series was originally being written by Hossein Amini, the screenwriter behind films and TV shows like McMafia, Drive, The Alienist, 47 Ronin, Snow White and the Huntsman and Our Kind of Traitor, which coincidentally starred Ewan McGregor.
However, Amini left the project in January 2020. He is reportedly being replaced by Joby Harold, who served as executive producer for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and is writing Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead. According to Variety, Harold was also selected to develop a new take on the Transformers franchise over at Paramount.
Chow and McGregor will serve as executive producers alongside Kathleen Kennedy, Tracey Seaward (The Queen) and John Swartz (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).
What is the series about? When is it set?
The Obi-Wan series will take place eight years after the events of 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, where we last saw Obi-Wan watching over Luke Skywalker, the secret child of Darth Vader, on Tatooine. This means the show will be set approximately around the time of Solo: A Star Wars Story, a few years before A New Hope.
Ewan McGregor has also revealed Obi-Wan hasn’t quite recovered from the Jedi Cull in Revenge of the Sith.
“It will be interesting to take a character we know in a way and show him… Well, his arc will be quite interesting, I think, dealing with that, the fact that all the Jedi were slaughtered with the end of [Revenge of the Sith]. It’s quite something to get over,” he told Men’s Journal.
Not a lot more than that has been confirmed, although we can guess what the series might involve.
Firstly, there’s every chance it will feature the force ghost of Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn. After all, in Revenge of the Sith, Yoda outlined that Obi-Wan may be able to contact his old master after he returned from “netherworld of the Force”.
Also, many are hoping the series can fill in some of the questions about Obi-Wan. Why does he call himself ‘Ben Kenobi’ in A New Hope? How is he so familiar with Mos Eisley? And did he have adventures outside Tatooine during his wilderness years?
Was there going to be an Obi-Wan Kenobi film?
Apparently, yes. McGregor has confirmed that early plans for Obi-Wan’s return had him on the big screen, but eventually the idea shifted to Disney+ instead.
And director Deborah Chow says that’s all for the better.
“The situation is so complex both for [Obi-Wan] personally and in a way, the state of the galaxy, you sort of need time to explore it,” Chow recently told the New York Times.“And to be honest there are loads of other stories within that period as well, it’s quite a few years.
“There is so much going on between [Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope] that hasn’t been explored. The idea of being able to go into a character journey plus the politics and plus all the vastness of the Empire and what’s going on is exciting just because it feels like a proper period of history and sometimes that is hard to do in two hours.”
The Obi-Wan Kenobi series will air on Disney+. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £5.99 a month or £59.99 a year. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.