Whether by brawn, charisma, or unbelievable depth, some actors are just made for major blockbuster franchises. Think Robert Downey, Jr. and Harrison Ford, or Zoe Saldana in her eleventy science fiction debuts. It’s a wild, wild world out there and Kumail Nanjiani, beloved in Hollywood for his quippy humor and acerbic wit, is on the fast track to joining their ranks.
Kumail Nanjiani, a Karachi-born comedian, was recently cast in an undisclosed role in Lucasfilm’s upcoming Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, starring Ewan McGregor as the titular Jedi Master. The Scottish native isn’t the only familiar face slated to appear; Hayden Christensen will be reprising his role as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, Kenobi’s fallen Jedi apprentice, comrade, and best friend. The two were last seen together in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Joel Edgerton rounds out the returning cast by reappearing as a young Owen Lars. Nanjiani is joined by Moses Ingram, Bonnie Piesse, Indira Varma, Rupert Friend, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Sung Kang, Simone Kessell, and Benny Safdie.
Kumail Nanjiani’s casting announcement comes fresh after the success of Disney’s The Mandalorian, starring Wonder Woman 1984’s Pedro Pascal as the title character, tasked with locating and eventually raising Grogu (previously known as the Child). The show ended Season 2 on a high note with a prime Luke Skywalker’s surprise cameo, with Season 3 already in pre-production.
Obi-Wan Kenobi kicks off 10 years after Anakin’s defeat at Mustafar in Episode III, 18 years before the events of The Mandalorian, 9 years before the Rebel fleet escaped Darth Vader in Rogue One, and 13 years before the Battle of Yavin. This would place the series roughly around the same time period as Solo: A Star Wars Story, which chronicles our favorite “half-witted, scruffy-looking” nerf herder’s early adventures with Chewbacca across the far and wide galaxy. So, if our math is right, this places Obi-Wan Kenobi exactly 10 years before Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. More importantly, the series may finally answer the age-old question of what the Jedi Master was doing during Luke and Leia’s formative years, given that the twins would be roughly 10 years old in this timeline.
So, besides McGregor’s Kenobi, Christensen’s Vader, and Edgerton’s Uncle Owen, who exactly is playing who in this series? Disney has yet to issue a detailed cast list, so right now all of that is anyone’s guess. Kumail Nanjiani could be starting out with a character of his own, or breathe new life into a fan-favorite, whether from the films or any of the succeeding cartoons, novels, and comic books.
Besides Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi marks the second franchise Kumail Nanjiani has joined since inking a deal with the Marvel Cinematic Universe as an Eternal, a distant relative of Thanos. He already finished principal photography on Marvel’s Eternals, about an immortal humanoid alien race destined to destroy humanity’s evil counterparts, the Deviants. The film is directed by Chloé Zhao and will be the third Phase Four movie to be released by Marvel Studios as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Nanjiani plays Kingo, a Bollywood samurai with the ability to shoot cosmic beams from his hands.
With two big franchises on the way – and can we just say, a newly ripped bod to be immensely proud of – Kumail Nanjiani is living his best life. Not bad for a working actor whose industry was practically crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic.