Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi Almost Had an Even Darker Opening

The Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi started in a dark place, but it could have been so much worse, says Ewan McGregor.

Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 6 Review
Photo: Lucasfilm

“Obi-Wan. Now, that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time… A long time.” Every Star Wars fan recognizes that line as one of the first things that the great Sir Alec Guinness says as Obi-Wan Kenobi at the start of A New Hope. For years, these fans have wondered what could have happened to poor Ben to wipe his much cooler name from memory.

While the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi gave fans an answer, it could have been so much worse. Early planning for the follow-up to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith involved a much darker intro scene for Ewan McGregor‘s fallen Jedi Master, much worse than working on an assembly line cutting up a “sand whale” or living in a cave on Tatooine.

“I said, all I can see is him broken after some time after Episode III and he’s in a really dark place,” McGregor told Vanity Fair. “The first episode used to start with me as a waiter in a bar. He’s really lost his way, Obi-Wan,” he explained. “He’s drinking too much. I got beaten up. People are kicking me, and I’m just taking it, then stalking out into the night.”

Although it isn’t quite all that bad, the finished product didn’t exactly begin with Obi-Wan on the top of the world. He had lost his connection to the Force and lived as a hermit, his only purpose to watch over young Luke. But that condition made for a better starting point for what the series became—a rollicking adventure that saw Ben Kenobi protecting the future, namely the child Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair), and reckoning with the past, when he faced his old apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) in the form of Darth Vader.

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As McGregor explained to Vanity Fair, unexpected returns have been a theme during his work as the Jedi Master. After all, when he finished his first three turns in the role, McGregor thought he had to put the Star Wars galaxy far, far behind him.

“It’s been a huge journey being part of Star Wars and for the longest time after the Prequels came out, there was no social media, there was no direct communication other than critics,” McGregor recalled. “It was such a massive film to shoot and then for it to come out and to be really panned was hard. I had no experience of that. That was all a bit of a confusion. So when [Revenge of the Sith] finished, I was off. I was just like, ‘See you later.’ I didn’t think too much about it.”

It was only years later that, with the advent of social media, that fans began sharing their love of the prequels with the Scottish actor. With that praise came a reoccurring question: “Would you ever play Obi-Wan again?” To which McGregor always responded with a casual, “Sure, yeah!”

At least, he remained casual, until Lucasfilm’s former head of story Kiri Hart reached out to him to reprise the role. “We sat down in an office and [Hart] just said, ‘You’re saying that you would like to do it again, and all we want to know, really, is—do you mean it?’ And I said, I’m glad to have this opportunity to say yes, I would love to do it again,” McGregor said.

From reject to respect. It seems like that’s the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi, on and off the screen.