The actor also teases his upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+.

By Nick Romano
April 28, 2021 at 11:01 AM EDT
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Before he returns to the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in a new live-action Disney+ series, Ewan McGregor opened up about the harsh reception the Star Wars prequel movies received.

"[It] was hard they didn't get well received. That was quite difficult," McGregor said in an interview for The Hollywood Reporter's latest cover story. "They were universally not very much liked."

The actor was cast in 1998 as a younger version of the Jedi master portrayed by Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars trilogy. He remembers being on the set of Velvet Goldmine getting craft services with costar Christian Bale when he got the news he landed the role.

The Hollywood Reporter - Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter.
| Credit: The Hollywood Reporter

The actor starred in 1999's The Phantom Menace, 2002's Attack of the Clones, and 2005's Revenge of the Sith. He recalled how much CGI effects Star Wars creator and director George Lucas employed for those prequel films, including entire backdrops of bluescreens.

"George loves technology and loves pushing into that realm," he said. "He wanted more and more control over what we see in the background."

"After three or four months of that, it just gets really tedious — especially when the scenes are… I don't want to be rude, but it's not Shakespeare," he added. "There's not something to dig into in the dialogue that can satisfy you when there's no environment there. It was quite hard to do."

Obi-Wan Kenobi, the series, will feel "so much more real," he promises, because of StageCraft, which The Mandalorian showrunner Jon Favreau utilized for his Star Wars series.

"They project [the virtual backgrounds] onto this massive LED screen. So if you're in a desert, you're standing in the middle of a desert. If you're in the snow, you're surrounded by snow. And if you're in a cockpit of a starfighter, you're in space," McGregor said.

Development on an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie was churning at one point in time, but THR reports that the poor performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story — an origin story for Harrison Ford's character Han Solo — prompted Lucasfilm to pivot from film into the Disney+ series.

A representative for Disney didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.

Now, the show will pick up 10 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith with a cast that includes Moses Ingram (The Queen's Gambit), Joel Edgerton (Boy Erased), Bonnie Piesse (The Vow), Kumail Nanjiani (Eternals), Indira Varma (Game of Thrones), and more. Given the timeline, a young Luke Skywalker seems like a sure thing for this show, as well. "That's very possible," McGregor teases. "I don't know."

"I'm really excited about it," the actor says of the show in general. "Maybe more so than the first ones, because I'm older — I just turned 50 — and I'm just in a much better place."

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