Hayden Christensen binged Star Wars animated shows to prepare for Obi-Wan Kenobi
Often when an actor is taking on a new character, there is a mountain of prep work that needs to be done. It could be familiarizing oneself with the original source material. It could be researching the character. It could be long conversations with a director about backstory and motivation. But what about when you are returning to a character you already played, albeit 17 years ago?
That was the situation for Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen when they picked up their laser swords once again for the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. So did the man playing the title character go back and watch any of the old Star Wars films to help reacclimate himself with Obi-Wan?
Any of the old films? Try all of them, even the ones his character wasn't in. "I watched them from start to finish," McGregor says. "All nine movies. Just to get back in that world." (Sorry, Rogue One and Solo, looks like you didn't make the cut.)
It turns out this was the first time McGregor watched the prequels since they were originally released. "It was interesting to watch our films because I hadn't seen them since they came out, not at all," he says. "So it was cool to see and interesting to watch them and enjoy them without all of the noise that was around when they came out."
That's not the only prep McGregor did; he also delved more into the entire genre. "I started reading science fiction," he reveals. "Iain M. Banks is a Scottish writer, and I started reading his science-fiction novels. I kind of didn't do it the first [time]. I did absolutely study Alec Guinness and watched the original three Star Wars films when we did the first one, but I didn't really think about the genre. And it's not something I would normally do, but this time I did. I got jazzed about being back in space because I really love it as a movie watcher."
While McGregor went back and watched the entire Skywalker saga, Christensen went even deeper into the Star Wars canon. "I went back and rewatched all the films," says the man who will be once again going behind the mask as Darth Vader. "And I also got into the animated shows, The Clone Wars and Rebels."
There's obviously a lot more Anakin/Vader content to consume in those series, which helped give the actor even more perspective and material to draw upon in terms on both what his character has been through in the years leading up to Obi-Wan Kenobi and what is on the horizon after.
"It was interesting," Christensen says of binging The Clone Wars and Rebels. "They did a lot with these characters in those shows. And they did further explore the relationship. There was interesting stuff there to learn about. It was great fun getting to go back and re-immerse yourself in this world that just continues to grow and become more and more vast."
With the news already announced that Christensen/Vader will also be appearing in Disney+'s upcoming Ahsoka series (based on a character originally created for The Clone Wars who also showed up on Rebels), it seems his time studying the animated series was indeed time well spent. Some might even call his research impressive… most impressive.
Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres May 27 on Disney+.
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