Obi-Wan Kenobi director explains the return of Darth Vader
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The show is titled Obi-Wan Kenobi. And with good reason, because it's about… well, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Granted, it's not the most inventive title ever, but it's short and to the point. Plus, Obi-Wan Kenobi (the character, not the show) is not only a Star Wars OG, but the cloaked wonder is also one of the ultimate faces of the franchise, even if that face changed from Alec Guinness (original recipe) to Ewan McGrgeor (extra crispy).
So the Disney+ series could have stopped right there. But it didn't. Because not only is the character of Obi-Wan coming back (obvs), but we also will be treated to the return of his friend-turned-foe Darth Vader.
The decision to include the Dark Lord of the Sith did not come lightly. As Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told EW in our exclusive cover story, "The debate around whether we should do that or not carried on for quite some time. Everybody within our creative team has strong opinions, and all of our fans have strong opinions. So when you realize that you're under that level of scrutiny, certainly a story point like that is going to be scrutinized at a very high level. We talked about it constantly."
And we talked to Obi-Wan Kenobi director Deborah Chow to get her take on why they ultimately chose to bring back the former Anakin Skywalker, what kind of Darth Vader we can expect to see, and what happened when Hayden Christensen showed up on set for the first time in the black armor.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, why did you decide to bring Darth Vader back for this series?
DEBORAH CHOW: Honestly, for me the starting place was that I really wanted to do something that was character-based and character-driven, because that is the benefit of the limited series, is that you have more time to sort of tell a real character story. And so for me, the starting place of character is you just start and you look at who has been important to him in his life. And it's quite hard to avoid Anakin/Vader in that scenario, especially coming out of Revenge of the Sith.
So really it came out of an evolution of the character for me. It wasn't just to sort of bring him back. It was really like, who means something and where are we at this point in the timeline with Vader?
How was it working with Hayden Christensen?
He's lovely. And he's absolutely wonderful. And Canadian! So the first time I met him actually was in Toronto, and it was really nice because we sort of met up in Canada, and obviously both with people like Ewan and Hayden, they've been these characters for so long and they obviously did them in the prequels, and they've lived with this character in their lives for so long that they just know the character so well, which makes it so helpful in terms of the creative.
What was it like when Darth Vader first showed up on set?
Obviously Hayden was going to be part of this series, and when he first came on to set for us, it definitely had a very special feeling. And it was a really interesting moment for me because you really started to see the different generations and how they connect to Star Wars and the franchise, where you have a generation that grew up with the prequels first and with Hayden. It's a totally different thing for them than a generation that grew up with the originals. And then there's younger generations with the new ones.
So it felt really special bringing him back. And obviously I'm Canadian and he's Canadian, so that was also very heartwarming for me. We were having some Canadian pride on that day.
What were the feelings for you working with that iconic character? Ewan McGregor told me he couldn't figure out why everyone on set was so excited one day, and then he looked over and saw Vader and was like "Ah, f---. Of course!"
The first time I saw him in costume and the full thing going, he's towering over me. He's like literally almost twice my size, it felt like. It's really intense to have such an iconic character, and then to be directing him and to be doing new scenes with him. So I do remember poor Ewan on that day, he's like, "What am I, chopped liver by comparison right now?"
But I know that for Vader, it's something that it's almost part of our consciousness, because we've all had it in our lives for so long that to actually see him on set, it's pretty sort of significant. It's kind of moving.
What kind of Vader will we see here on the show? We only saw him for a few very quick scenes at the end of Revenge of the Sith in that armor. So where does he pick up 10 years later?
For us, it's very similar [to Obi-Wan] in the sense that he's in between these two trilogies. So he isn't the New Hope Vader quite yet, you know what I mean? So we are with the character sort of in the middle of this period. It is still Vader obviously, but it's a Vader that isn't quite as fully formed as A New Hope.
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