Friday, August 16, 2013

Episode VII Rumor: Ewan McGregor Returning As Obi-Wan Kenobi For Episode VII?

The Episode VII casting rumors just keep coming.

Just the other day the hot rumor was that actor Ian McDiarmid would be reprising his role as Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious in some form in Episode VII. That rumor was first reported by Jedi News, a UK based fansite.  Subsequently the website Latino Review ran with a similar story.  Both the Jedi News and Latino Review stories cited anonymous sources, but it is not clear if the source was the same for both stories or not.  It sounds like Latino Reviews source is based in England so it may be the same person talking to both sites.
Now we have a report from Latino Review that Obi-Wan Kenobi will be showing up in the film as well and that Ewan McGregor may be returning to play the character.

"I have confirmed this with three close sources that are on the project and they all confirmed to me that Ewan McGregor would be back as a Force Ghost in the upcoming sequel trilogy."
"But that is not all! Check this out! The interesting part of the conversation I had with my source was that McGregor also wants a solo standalone film! Whether he gets one or not is still up in the air. The other question now is whether or not Hayden Christensen will return."
It sounds like Episode VII is starting to resemble the Hogwarts dinning hall with all these ghosts floating around.  So there really are three parts to this rumor;

  1. Ewan McGregor to return as Force Ghost Obi-Wan.
  2. McGregor wants a stand-alone Obi-Wan film.
  3. Hayden Christensen may return as well as a Force Ghost.

Let's take these rumors apart one by one.

1) Ewan McGregor to return as Force Ghost Obi-Wan

Lucasfilm has the technology to digitally animate Sir Alec Guinness if they wanted to for this film.  Older fans like myself who remember the controversy of the changed appearance of Anakin's Force Ghost probably would prefer them to take this approach if they were to include Obi-Wan in the film.  They could then have someone like James Arnold Taylor do a voice match of Guinness.  If Obi-Wan's role in Episode VII is small it is probably more time and cost effective to use a flesh and blood actor instead of going the CGI route.

I actually like the idea of a younger Force Ghost of Obi-Wan and let me explain why.  As Yoda explains to Luke, "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter," why should Force Ghosts be tied to the physical appearance of their body at their death? We know that Anakin's original Force Ghost played by Sebastian Shaw had all his limbs, yet we saw Anakin lose both legs and an arm in Episode III.

This is an opportunity to expand the mythology surrounding Force Ghosts.  The idea should be that when a Jedi learns how to retain his consciousness in the Force after death, that not only can he choose when to appear but also how to appear. A simple bit of exposition and even a joke perhaps Luke saying to Ben that he looks better than the last time he saw him and Ben retorting that Luke looks a little worse, could provide a humorous moment as well as a chance to explain more about Force Ghosts and Obi-Wan's changed appearance.

An example on how this deepening of Force Ghost mythology could retroactively fit is Obi-Wan appearance only as a voice in Episode IV. It can be explained because in these situations Luke was busy fleeing from Imperial troops in the hanger and later flying his X-Wing down the Death Star's trench.  If Obi-Wan had appeared physically it would have been a visual distraction for Luke.

So I think it can work story-wise for McGregor to portray a younger version of Obi-Wan as a Force Ghost.  Another thing to keep in mind is scheduling.  McGregor currently has three filming commitments lined up for 2014, Mortdecai, co-starring Johnny Depp and Gweneth Paltrow, Born to Be King, co-starring Kate Hudson, and Our Kind of Traitor, co-starring Ralph Fiennes and Mads Mikkelsen.  So in addition to filming these three films McGregor probably has to do some significant promotional work next year as well. Scheduling may be tricky but if the role isn't extensive I would have to imagine they could find a way to fit him in to filming.

2) Ewan McGregor wants a stand-alone Obi-Wan film

McGregor's Episode III portrayal of Obi-Wan was so powerful and wrought with pain that it brought an emotional depth to the character that took it to a whole new level.  A film set featuring Obi-Wan set between Episodes III and IV is right near the top of my wish list for any spin off or stand-alone movies that Lucasfilm does.  For an idea of how awesome a story can be featuring Obi-Wan and set in this time period, I cannot suggest highly enough reading the soon to be released, Kenobi by John Jackson Miller.  The book due out on August 27th, deal with Obi-Wan as he first returns to Tatooine and begins his self-imposed exile to watch over infant Luke Skywalker.

3) Hayden Christensen may return as well as a Force Ghost

One possibility is that we see Luke in Episode VII learning the Force Ghost technique and we could see not only Obi-Wan, but Anakin, Yoda, and Qui-Gon all appear.  Christensen seems personally to be on good terms with George Lucas based on recently attending Lucas' wedding.  But I have no idea if Christensen would be interested in reprising his role as Anankin in Force Ghost form.

SOURCES: Latino Review


  1. 1) I like your idea of how to work around a younger Kenobi Force Ghost, but think it would make more sense to make Ewan just look as close to Alec as possible. Audiences can accept different actors as different characters. They can't accept unnecessarily complex retcons. It doesn't make sense story-wise for Obi-Wan to appear in front of Luke as his younger self. Luke never knew young Obi-Wan. That's why the Christensen swap at the end of ROTJ makes zero sense. It can't be that hard to make Ewan look old. Heck, the Sideshow Mythos statue has a molded head that is supposed to be a mix of Ewan and Alec and it looks great.

    2) This is the most exciting prospect to me. Ewan is clearly the level of actor to carry a movie, and the SW universe is begging for a film that features Kenobi in between ROTS and ANH. However, I hope the story goes beyond what I've heard about JJM's novel. He shouldn't be restricted to Tatooine. I just can't buy that an Obi-Wan in his prime would just sit around on Tatooine while his former apprentice, who he failed to kill, is running around the galaxy hunting Jedi. Kenobi would have felt compelled to at least try to get another shot at Vader. Maybe he never actually gets face to face with Vader again, but he would have tried. Plus, this works nicely with what they set up in The Clone Wars. Maul is back, hates Obi-Wan and Palpatine had "plans" for him. A film focused on Kenobi hunting Vader while Maul hunts Kenobi would be great. Bring back Ray Park!

    3) Ugh...please stay away from Hayden Christensen. Absolutely no reason to bring him back.
    - 12MG12

  2. I think the visual language of the film solves an potential issues at all with how he looks. It doesn't matter if one prefers Sebastian Shaw or Hayden Christensen as the ghost of Anakin Skywalker. In both instances, a man missing limbs, burnt, no eyebrows, and gouges in his head did not appear on screen. So we essentially know that the ghostly form has nothing to do the physical appearance of the Jedi upon his death. In terms of story, Anakin never wears that outfit in the films, and he's wearing new duds he has never sported.

    Anakin in the 2004 cut returned to his hero self. Maybe Obi-Wan, as the Jedi make their comeback and things are made right for a time in the galaxy, starts to prefer to Jedi in their heyday appearance.

    With all the CGI backlash Star Wars suffers, making a CGI Alec Guinness would be too much. Plus, I don't think anyone has really made a convincing human yet. It will just be easier to say Obi-Wan choose his younger form.

    I assume Yoda will be CGI as well. I hope so.