One of the most highly anticipated properties coming from Disney+ is Star Wars. Disney+ made it even more enticing when, along with their announcement of the streaming service, they also announced The Mandalorian, an original series taking its subscribers right into the Star Wars universe. But that wasn’t all. No, Disney had more surprises up its sleeve and the fans were brought to their feet at the D23 Expo. Obi-Wan Kenobi is coming back as the star of a Disney Plus series!
D23 Announces Obi-Wan Kenobi On Disney Plus
Billed as the official Ultimate Disney Fan Event, the Disney expo is a bi-annual gathering where members of the Disney Fan Club congregate for three days in Anaheim, CA. It is here that Disney makes all their important announcements and it was here that the president of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy made her revelation: “After secrets and fibs and not being able to talk about it, I am thrilled to bring out a beloved member of the Star Wars family.” The music was queued and out came Ewan McGregor to a shocked and thrilled room.
The excitement hadn’t even simmered when Ewan leaned into his microphone and asked, “Kathleen, could you ask me, in front of all of these people, all of these witnesses, can you please ask me am I going to play Obi-Wan Kenobi again.” And much to the delight of the sold-out crowd, she did. His one-word response? “Yes!”
It was the ultimate relief to McGregor who, by his own admission, had to keep the secret for a few years. Since the initial announcement, McGregor has been asked countless times about keeping the secret and how he felt finally being able to let the world know Obi-Wan was back. His general response to all, “It’s a f****** massive relief. Because for four years I’ve been having to lie to people about it.”
According to McGregor, talks between himself, Lucasfilm, and Disney have been on-going for years. He initially told them he’d be very interested in reprising his role as Obi-Wan and for a while, it seemed like the big screen would be where he’d make his return. Originally, Obi-Wan was slated to be the very first film outside of ‘The Skywalker Saga’ but with the disappointing box office of Solo: A Star Wars Story, plans for an Obi-Wan feature film fell apart. McGregor himself confirmed the initial film idea to ComingSoon.Net. “It wasn’t always going to be a series, not initially. When we first started talking about, that wasn’t really in the cards but everything’s changed so much, so quickly. It’s really exciting that it is now. I’m really into the idea to be able to tell the story over several hours instead of just one hit. I think it’s going to be quite cool.”
STAR WARS: OBI-WAN On Disney Plus
No, Star Wars: Obi-Wan isn’t the official title of the upcoming Disney+ show. In fact, at this moment there is no official title. When the movie was thought about, rumors flew that it would be called Kenobi: A Star Wars Story. It is quite possible that Disney+ could use this title but the announcement may take a while to get to fans.
Okay, Obi-Wan Kenobi is back. But the last time we saw McGregor as the Jedi Master it was 15 years ago in Revenge of the Sith. So, what is the timeframe for Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus? According to McGregor, who dropped this bit of knowledge, “The storyline sits between Episode III and Episode IV.” More to the point, the action will take place 8 years after Annakin Skywalker laid waste to all things Jedi thus turning his force into the dark and evil Darth Vader.
There will be no de-aging technique to make McGregor into a younger Obi-Wan. McGregor feels playing an older Obi-Wan will be truer to the character. He told the Men’s Journal, “I want to get closer and closer to how Obi-Wan felt while Alec Guinness was playing him. I feel like I’m grayer and nearer him in age, so it’ll be easier to do that.” He also feels jumping back into the Jedi Master’s life at that particular time will be quite interesting. “Well, his arc will be quite interesting, I think, dealing with that the fact that all the Jedi were slaughtered with the end of Episode III. It’s quite something to get over.”
With these little tidbits of information, do we know where the series will take place? Simply, no. The options for where Obi-Wan will use the force are open for speculation. Perhaps the series will cover Obi-Wan’s time on Tatooine, where he lived a hermit-like existence. But at this point, details are very scarce.
Obi-Wan Kenobi And Friends
At this point, it’s just Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ewan McGregor has been the only announced cast member, so again, everything else is speculation. Of course, listening to the rumor mill could be cause for some excitement as Joel Edgerton’s name has popped up. If you recall, Edgerton portrayed Owen Lars, the man who Obi-Wan entrusted in raising and keeping safe Luke Skywalker. Edgerton also helped stoke the rumor fires by stating on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast that “There is a very real possibility” of his return. So, other than that, mum’s the word. We do know on the production side that Chow, McGregor, and Amini will be serving as Executive Producers alongside Kennedy, John Swartz, and Tracey Seaward.
The Plot of Obi-Wan Kenobi
We don’t know a lot yet about what the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi will be about, but we have gotten clues from one of The Mandalorian’s exec producers Deborah Chow. She’ll also be directing the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney Plus series and she had this to say about their plans:
“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. 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.”— Deborah Chow interviewed by the New York Times
Chow seems to be particularly excited about exploring the politics of Star Wars. That’s not something the franchise has done extensively since the last time we saw Obi-Wan Kenobi, in George Lucas’s Star Wars prequels. It’s also one of the things fans hated most about George’s vision of the world before Luke Skywalker.
The Names Behind Obi-Wan Kenobi On Disney Plus
It didn’t take long for Disney+ to announce who would be bringing Obi-Wan Kenobi to the Disney Plus screen. Deborah Chow has been tapped as director of this highly anticipated project. Her work on shows Better Call Saul, Lost In Space, Jessica Jones, Mr. Robot, and Reign brought her to The Mandalorian of which Kathleen Kennedy raved. “Based on her phenomenal work developing our characters in The Mandalorian, I’m absolutely confident Deborah is the right director to tell this story.” If her work on The Mandalorian is any indication, then Obi-Wan is in great hands.
Of course, grabbing a great director is key, but so is finding someone who can bring Obi-Wan Kenobi’s story to life. Kennedy chose Hossein Amini to write the series. Amini is familiar with the House of Mouse as he penned Snow White and the Huntsman. His credits also include The Alienist and Drive. Amini offered his take on where he sees the series going. “It’s fascinating in the sense that it’s a period where there is a lot of change in the galaxy and a lot of hardship,” he tells Discussing Film. “So, for Obi Wan’s character, he has a lot to adjust to given the loss of his close friends and the order that he believed in. It felt like a really exciting opportunity to explore a different side of a franchise that I always loved and I’ve always loved it because of its spiritual aspects as well as its fun and action elements, it seems to work on way more than one level which isn’t always true for those big franchises.”
When Will Obi-Wan Kenobi Be On Disney Plus?
So when will we actually be able to watch the new Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars series? Disney+ has not offered a release date. The closest they’ve come to making any statement about this came from Kathleen Kennedy when she said that the scripts are already in place and they expect to go before cameras by the summer of 2020. Also known, the series is slotted to be six one-hour shows with no plans, as of yet, to extend it to another season or two. How effects-heavy the series will be will also determine how soon the series will make its Disney+ premiere. Best guess, mark down the summer of 2021 as the moment when Obi-Wan Kenobi rejoins the Star Wars universe.