Human beings are existentially Daedalian creatures. We’re no box, and are different individuals depending on time, place, and people involved. Life, after all, breeds and demands complexity. In fiction, however, everything is trimmed down for clarity and visual brevity. Characters remain layered and multifaceted but are defined only by a few key traits. Nick Fury is nothing without his pragmatics and eye patch. Superman isn’t Superman if he’s not exuding hope and wearing either his glasses or his red and blue skin suit. Sarah Connor is unrecognizable without her grit and imposing physique. And Obi-Wan Kenobi, whether it’s Ewan McGregor or Alec Guinness should be in the tunic, brandishing the lightsaber, and sporting the wispy beard.
It’s only been a few days since the full cast list of Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi was announced, and yet Ewan McGregor, who plays the slightly older version than we last saw in Revenge of the Sith, is already sporting the Jedi Master’s iconic beard. Check out his latest post on Instagram:
Ewan McGregor celebrated his 50th birthday yesterday and was seen unicycling through the back roads of what looks like his native Scotland, happily flashing the V sign at the camera. His daughter Clara likened her father’s seamless movements to the soft lull of ocean waves. Or perhaps the Force? More importantly, the Perth actor, who played Roman Sionis/Black Mask in last year’s Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), has finally grown back his beard in the many years since Mustafar.
In Star Wars, heroes and villains possess more streamlined qualities. George Lucas values storytelling convention, hence characters are largely archetypal. Leia is a spunky space princess. Han Solo is a charming rogue. Darth Vader is a ruthless android. And Obi-Wan Kenobi is a bearded old mentor. Lucasfilm’s upcoming Disney+ series, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is set 10 years after Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and depicts Ewan McGregor as Ben a little over his prime, laying low and watching Anakin Skywalker’s twins from a distance. It’s set to reestablish this timeline for the franchise, one that’s gone unexplored in a live-action setting.
Obi-Wan Kenobi stars Ewan McGregor as the titular character, but will also include other familiar faces. Kumail Nanjiani, Moses Ingram, Indira Varma, Rupert Friend, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Sung Kang, Simone Kessell and Benny Safdie all have roles. Plus there is Hayden Christensen returning as Anakin/Darth Vader. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’s Joby Harold replaces Hossein Amini (Our Kind of Traitor, also starring McGregor) is on as screenwriter, while Chow, Harold, McGregor, Kathleen Kennedy, and Michelle Rejwan serve as executive producers. Canadian filmmaker Deborah Chow, who helmed the critically lauded episode 3 and episode 7 of The Mandalorian, will be directing. The show is still in pre-production.
Ewan McGregor is famous for being the second person to play Ben Kenobi after English actor Alec Guinness, but is beloved among cinephiles for his various dramatic and fantasy roles. While the Star Wars prequels did leave quite a bit to be desired it wasn’t any fault of the actor. He was excellent in the role and is a big reason the story is getting a reboot on Disney+ as part of their revitalized franchise run of programs.
He received international acclaim playing heroin addict Mark Renton in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, a role he would reprise 21 years later, adult Dan Torrance in The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep, Edward Bloom in Big Fish, the elusive ghost in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, and the titular adventurer in Christopher Robin. He is also an accomplished singer and has been in several musicals, notably Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! where he played amorous playwright Christian and the live-action adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as talking chandelier Lumiere. Disney announced he would be reprising his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in an exclusive miniseries way back in 2019.