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Initially proposed as a film during Disney and Lucasfilm’s “A Star Wars Story” misadventure, the often-rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi project emerged as a six-episode Disney+ limited series, which is due to begin production very soon. But as the constant joke goes, how do you make a series set within the decades Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) sat in a dwelling somewhere on Tatooine and called himself “Ben”?
Let’s take a look at everything we know about the series so far and see if we can’t glean what sort of adventures a Jedi exile can have while he looks after (from a distance) his best friend’s son.
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Introduced in the original Star Wars (Episode IV-A New Hope) —or, from another point of view, introduced in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace — Obi-Wan Kenobi is the exemplar Jedi Knight. A good fighter who uses the Force for knowledge and defense, he takes the Order’s code very seriously – even if it means great personal heartbreak. And as far as any of his live-action or animated appearances have told, he is the least likely to ever give into the Dark Side. Granted, design documents for a “Dark Ben” in some long-abandoned video game or comic-book project make the rounds online from time to time.
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And though his incorruptibility would seemingly prevent conflict, there are plenty of ways for his valor to be tested. According to Disney’s description of the series, the story will take place 10 years after Anakin Skywalker’s (Hayden Christensen) fall from grace and the destruction of the Jedi Order. Presumably, some threat will force Ben away from his vigil over a 10-year-old Luke or, perhaps, someone nearby will come perilously close to learning the truth about Anakin’s offspring. Either way, Obi-Wan will have to make some difficult choices to protect his last gambit against Darth Vader and the Empire. There are definitely enough hooks for a six-episode miniseries.
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Besides McGregor’s return as “Old Ben,” the program will feature a surprising number of established Star Wars actors – and some very surprising returning characters. At the Disney Investor Day 2020 presentation, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy announced Christensen would return as Vader. That reveal left many wondering if the story would take place in the short time Anakin went by that name before he was encased in the Sith Lord’s iconic armor. But now that we know for certain it takes place 10 years later, it will be interesting to see the actor return to a part which requires someone else’s voice. Curiously, neither James Earl Jones nor Scott Lawrence or Matt Sloan (who often voice Vader in animated and video game projects) have been announced as returning.
As it happens, the series will not be Christensen’s first time in the armor. He briefly suited up for Vader’s final scenes of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) March 29, 2021
McGregor and Christensen are not the only Prequel Trilogy actors set to return, though. In a press release announcing the imminent start of production, Lucasfilm revealed Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse are back. The pair played the younger Owen Lars and Beru Whitesun in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and in a brief cameo during Revenge of the Sith’s closing moments. Although the press release does not explicitly state they will be Owen and Beru, it seems almost certain they are here to reprise the roles. In fact, this is one of the sources of conflict the series can mine as Owen’s distaste for Ben in the original Star Wars has to come from somewhere. And although some of that tension has been explored in comics and other media over the years, seeing it in live action is always the dream for a Star Wars fan.
Fun Fact: During the scripting of Return of the Jedi, Owen was meant to be Obi-Wan’s brother.
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But a Star Wars TV show can’t revolve around established characters entirely – we’d have no Mandalorian if that were the case – so the series will see a healthy amount of new faces as well.
Pen15 star Maya Erskine is the latest actor added to the cast. She joins new actors including Moses Ingram (The Queen’s Gambit), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), Indira Varma (pictured, Game Of Thrones), Rupert Friend (Hitman: Agent 47), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton), Sung Kang (Fast & Furious 6), Simone Kessell (Reckoning), and actor-director Benny Safdie (Good Time). Speculation on the parts they will play immediately went into overdrive. Varma, for example, has already been linked to characters like Satine Kryze (Obi-Wan’s long-lost love), Star Wars Rebels characters like the Seventh Sister and Governor Pryce, and even the long-dead (by the time of the series) Sith assassin Asajj Ventress. Of course, a lot of these characters rely on the series using copious amounts of flashbacks, which seems unlikely at the moment. We imagine the greater portion of the new cast will be entirely new characters ripe for spinoffs of their own.
This is the way of Star Wars, after all.
In terms of potential conflicts for Obi-Wan, there are tensions close to home with Jabba the Hutt extending his reach across the Dune Sea, various groups of mercenaries and bounty hunters operating out of Mos Eisley, and even simple settler skirmishes over resources and land. Would the model Jedi be able to spend 20 years on Tatooine without getting involved in these issues? We doubt it. This group of actors could easily become any number of desert-world dwellers trying to make their way in the galaxy.
As soon as Lucasfilm begins confirming their roles, we’ll do likewise.
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Since Lucasfilm finally admitted to the project’s existence, Mandalorian episode director Deborah Chow (pictured) has been linked to its development. In the recent press release, the company confirmed she will direct the series in addition to serving as an executive producer. She helmed the third and seventh episode of Din Djarin’s (Pedro Pascal) debut season, introducing us to the Mando Covert, the Armorer (Emily Swallow), and Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) along the way. To say she gets Star Wars is an understatement.
Joining up on scripting duties is Joby Harold, a veteran of Zack Snyder’s upcoming Army of the Dead and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. But it should be noted he replaces Drive screenwriter Hossein Amini, who initially developed the program with Chow. It is unclear how much of his work remains, but we imagine at least a little will become evident when the series finally debuts.
Executive producers include Chow, Kennedy, Harold, McGregor, and Michelle Rejwan.
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With production starting in April, it might seem like the series could be ready for later this year. But with The Book of Boba Fett slated for December of this year and a third season of The Mandalorian and the debut of Andor in the pipeline — to say nothing of Disney+’s Marvel series schedule — expect this sometime in 2022.