As the premiere date nears for Obi-Wan Kenobi, the latest Star Wars live-action series for Disney Plus, we are getting more glimpses of the new characters and worlds featured in the series. That includes a new look at the Grand Inquisitor played by Rupert Friend, a character beloved by hard-core Star Wars fans, who then generated a fair amount of controversy when his look was featured in images and a trailer released last month. Thankfully, the latest look at the Grand Inquisitor, via new photos released by Total Film Magazine and featured on sister site GamesRadar, may set some fans at ease.
For those unfamiliar with the lore surrounding the character, The Grand Inquisitor, and the Inquisitors that served under him, hunted down Jedi Knights for Darth Vader following the events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The character was featured in the animated series Star Wars Rebels, but when fans saw how the character was depicted in live-action (as portrayed by Rupert Friend), many overreacted. Many thought he looked far too different from the animated version. However, the new image shows a far more faithful look for the character, and some fans are backing off from their initial criticism.
Obi-Wan Kenobi features Ewan McGregor reprising his role of the Jedi Knight ten years after the events in Revenge of the Sith. He is now living a life of solitude on Tatooine, keeping an eye on a young Luke Skywalker. However, Darth Vader (once again played by Hayden Christensen) has dispatched Rupert Friend’s Grand Inquisitor to stamp out the Jedi Knights, and Obi-Wan is forced to confront the Dark Side once again. Rupert’s voice is featured prominently in the trailer, adding a nice sense of foreboding of what’s to come.
At first, many thought Rupert Friend’s head looked like a giant egg, which is a far cry from the elongated alien head the character sported in Star Wars: Rebels. A similar controversy arose in the first season of The Book of Boba Fett, when a character featured in the cartoon Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Cad Bane, had a much different look in live-action. The new image seems to show the Grand Inquisitor with a much more faithful look, and fans are reacting positively, so far.
In addition to Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, and Rupert Friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi features a diverse cast, and a few returning faces. Moses Ingram will play Reva, another Inquisitor. They will be joined by Kumail Nanjiani, Sung Kang, Maya Erskine and Benny Safdie. Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Priesse return to reprise their roles as Owen and Beru Lars from the Prequel Trilogy. Obi-Wan Kenobi will premiere with two episodes on Friday, May 27th on Disney Plus.
Like so many actors, Rupert Friend is relishing the idea of playing a villain, especially in a franchise like Star Wars. Although it gave him the chance to play a role unlike one he has ever done, there were drawbacks. He admits the makeup involved was a chore to deal with. “It was a sweaty, sweaty suit and I did sweat buckets inside the prosthetics which would pour across my face at the end of a day and make me look like a very, very miserable clown,” he told the BBC. “But so worth it!”
Despite the controversy surrounding his Grand Inquisitor character, it is likely a walk in the park compared to his latest role in Netflix’s series Anatomy of a Scandal, in which he plays a British politician accused of rape by his mistress. The plot is particularly timely, considering the real-life #MeToo scandals that have become all too common these days. The series is already generating some heated discussions about how our society treats victims and accusations, and with Rupert Friend having to give a sympathetic side to a dislikable character, he’s likely hoping for Star Wars mania to take over the public discourse soon.