How did the actor perfect moving around in that big Darth Vader suit? He called the 'Vader movement specialist', of course!
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Hayden Christensen knows a thing or two about playing Darth Vader. After all, he's the guy who broke bad in the Star Wars prequels — slicing off Mace Windu's arm and slaughtering younglings in the Jedi temple before making an ill-fated play for higher ground on Mustafar.

But other than breaking out of restrains while yelling "NOOOOOOOOO!" at the top of his lungs, and staring out of a Star Destroyer viewport contemplatively, the actor doesn't have a ton of experience playing the Dark of the Sith after he got encased in black armor. So with Christensen returning to portray arguably the most iconic role in the history of pop culture for Obi-Wan Kenobi (premiering May 27 on Disney+), did he have to spend some time just figuring out how to actually move and walk as a confident badass in a giant suit of armor?

"That was something that we spent a lot of time working on," answers Christensen. "And this suit really just informs the way you move." But wait, it gets better, because it seems the producers had a plan for just this scenario that can only be described as impressive … most impressive.

"We had this woman who was like a Vader movement specialist," reveals Christensen. "And she made sure that we were always in the right ballpark."

If "Vader movement specialist" just became your favorite job title ever, you are not alone, and the Vader movement specialist was none other than choreographer Olga Sokolova. But Christensen explains the actual importance of the job. "Certainly, we wanted to make sure that we were staying true to how Vader moves and how we perceive him, and wanting to keep all that relatively consistent."

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader in 'Obi-Wan Kenobi'
| Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

So how easy was it for the actor to move around in that armor?

"It's challenging," says Christensen, who recalls a story of how his original discomfort under the helmet matched his character's. "I remember when we were doing Episode III and I put on the suit for the first time, I was really having a tough time moving around in it, and it was all extremely rigid. And I said that to George [Lucas], and he said, 'It's okay. This is your first time in this suit. So it should feel very mechanical and maybe not very natural.' Now, this is 10 years after that. So he's had a lot of time to acclimate. But again, it's a full-on challenge, just trying to get to set in that suit."

What about going to the bathroom? "That poses a whole other set of challenges," he notes.

One of the things Christensen was known for in the prequels was his intense and fluid lightsaber fighting style — honed from hours of intense practice sessions with Ewan McGregor and stunt coordinator Nick Gallard. But that was all back when Anakin/Vader still had at least three of his limbs still intact. Will we get to see any of that familiar physicality from the Dark Lord in Obi-Wan Kenobi?

"Yeah, we get a little bit of that," reveals Christensen. "I think what they did in Rogue One was very strong and that resonated with everybody, but there are a few nods to Anakin's style. But his style changes and evolves as he tries to fight in his armor now."

Hayden Christensen STAR WARS: EPISODE III-REVENGE OF THE SITH
Hayden Christensen in 'Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith'
| Credit: Industrial Light & Magic/TM and 20th Century-Fox Film/Courtesy Everett Collection

Speaking of being under the armor, Vader's helmeted voice has always been performed in the films by James Earl Jones. While producers have not revealed who will be doing Darth's voice in Obi-Wan Kenobi, what sort of voice does Christensen use when speaking his dialogue from under the mask? Does he try to emulate Jones' iconic and imposing tones? "Obviously, we stay true to voice that we all know and love," he says. "But no, I do know how I feel Anakin would sound with all of those injuries, and how that would've possibly affected his vocal abilities. And it's my own sort of version of it."

The other thing the actor also enjoys voicing is his enthusiasm about coming back to the franchise after a 17-year break, especially now that the premiere is just a few days away. "It's really exciting, man. I think the general anticipation is there. It's all been really positive and I've enjoyed the experience."

Listen to interviews with Obi-Wan Kenobi stars Ewan McGregor, Kumail Nanjiani, Rupert Friend and more on EW's new Star Wars podcast, Dagobah Dispatch.

Related content:

Obi-Wan Kenobi (TV series)

Ewan McGregor returns to Tatooine to fill in the gaps of what happened to the Jedi Master between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.

 

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