By Christian Blauvelt
Updated January 20, 2011 at 03:00 PM EST

Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd

Liam Neeson is returning to that Galaxy Far, Far Away. EW has learned exclusively that the actor will reprise his Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace role as doomed Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn on Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Jan. 28 and again on Feb. 11. He’ll be voicing Qui-Gon, who appears to Obi-Wan Kenobi in visions, in a three-part arc about his former protégé Anakin Skywalker’s destiny as the Chosen One.

Though The Clone Wars has featured a number of high-profile guest-stars, including Seth Green, George Takei, Michael York, Ron Perlman, Clancy Brown, and director Jon Favreau, Neeson is by far the biggest name yet attached to the series (airing Friday nights at 8:30 pm ET). Considering the backlash against The Phantom Menace, and Neeson’s string of post-Star Wars critical and box-office hits, to voice a character on The Clone Wars might seem to be an unexpected — and even brave — move. But his connection to the saga runs deeper. Neeson tells EW he wanted to return to Star Wars because he felt that “these characters resonate…even after all these years.” He adds, “Growing up, my heroes were cowboys; they were strong and mysterious, and it seemed like they always rode off into the sunset. For kids today, Star Wars has that same kind of magic. I really wanted to be a part of that.” And he still is.

To help you geek out in advance, here’s an exclusive clip from Neeson’s first episode as he, in spectral form, confronts his former Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. And be sure to check out our weekly Clone Wars recaps!