Obi-Wan Kenobi Means to Bridge the Gap Between Ewan McGregor’s Pain and Alec Guinness’ Calm

Yesterday, we got our first real look at Obi-Wan Kenobi in the form of a trailer that told us… very little. (But it looked cool.) The series has been in the works for years, and a new piece at Entertainment Weekly details the production’s sometimes-bumpy road to the small screen. It’s full of sweet moments, from Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen’s long-lasting affection for one another to Moses Ingram’s enthusiasm for her new character’s look.

But the story also includes a few tantalizing—and frustrating—details about the tone and focus of Obi-Wan Kenobi, which is set at the height of Palpatine’s Empire and in a dark time for its title character, who McGregor describes as “a broken man.” What the show seeks to explore, according to writer Joby Harold, is how Obi-Wan becomes the man we first met in A New Hope.

“When we last saw Obi-Wan in the prequels, he’s very emotional,” Harold tells EW. “There’s a passion to him. And when we get to see him again in A New Hope, he is the Zen master. That was the story that I wanted to understand.”

This is exactly the right question to ask in an Obi-Wan story. But what’s worrying is Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy’s focus on creating “a hopeful, uplifting story.” She tells EW, “It’s tricky when you’re starting with a character in the state that Obi-Wan would be in coming off of Revenge of the Sith. That’s a pretty bleak period of time.”

You don’t say. But—wild idea here—what if we let bleak Star Wars stories be bleak? What if a Star Wars story really faced the reality of the Empire, the mass murder of Jedi and younglings, the atrocity of the clone and stormtrooper armies? Writer Harold seems to understand, noting, “All the horrors that come with the Empire are being made manifest throughout the galaxy, so everything that was in the prequels has crumbled.”

According to EW, Kennedy’s concern about the tone was part of was led her to shut down production in early 2020, and to bring on Harold to replace previous writer Hossein Amini. Director Deborah Chow says of the previous version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, “We inherited some of it, but we did really make some significant changes and add a few different elements.”

Lucasfilm is notoriously tight-lipped about, well, everything, and we have only that brief teaser to go on—and it shows mostly a pensive-seeming Obi-Wan. McGregor, Christensen, and the stellar new cast members (including Moses Ingram, Indira Varma, and Sung Kang) are more than enough reason to watch. But forcing an uplifting story into this dark time in the galaxy seems like a strange way to go. We’ll see for ourselves when Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres on May 25th.

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