Obi-Wan Kenobi is an American television miniseries created for the streaming service Disney+. It is part of the Star Wars franchise and stars Ewan McGregor as the title character, reprising his role from the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Set ten years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), the series follows Kenobi as he sets out to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) from the Galactic Empire, leading to a confrontation with his former apprentice, Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen).
The project originated as a spin-off film written by Hossein Amini and directed by Stephen Daldry, but it was reworked as a limited series following the commercial failure of Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). McGregor was confirmed to be starring in August 2019, and Deborah Chow was hired to direct a month later. Production was scheduled to begin in July 2020, but the series was put on hold in January 2020 because Lucasfilm was unsatisfied with the scripts. Joby Harold was hired to rewrite the series and serve as showrunner in April 2020, executive producing with Chow, McGregor, Kathleen Kennedy, and Michelle Rejwan. Additional casting took place in March 2021, with co-stars such as Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Jimmy Smits, James Earl Jones, and Christensen reprising their prequel trilogy roles. Filming began by May 2021 in Los Angeles, using StageCraft video wall technology, and wrapped by September. Natalie Holt composed the score, while Star Wars film composer John Williams wrote the “Obi-Wan Theme”, which was adapted by William Ross.
The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi premiered on May 27, 2022. The subsequent four episodes were released weekly until June 22. The series received generally positive reviews, with critics praising McGregor’s performance, the action sequences, the music by John Williams, the character-driven narrative, and the emotional weight, although the writing received some criticism.
- Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi:
A Jedi Master who survived Order 66 and now lives in exile, under the name “Ben”, on the planet Tatooine, watching over young Luke Skywalker. McGregor was excited to play a version of the character closer to Alec Guinness’s portrayal from the original Star Wars trilogy than his own younger version from the prequel trilogy, with Kenobi beginning the series “broken, and faithless, and beaten, [having] somewhat given up”. Executive producer Michelle Rejwan described Kenobi as being in a “pretty traumatic moment” following his losses in Revenge of the Sith (2005), including his apprentice Anakin’s fall to the dark side of the Force. Kenobi left Anakin for dead on Mustafar at the end of the film and feels guilty for doing so, with director Deborah Chow being intrigued by the idea that Kenobi might still care deeply for Anakin. Head writer Joby Harold said the series would relate the “very emotional” version of Kenobi in the prequels to Alec Guinness’s “zen master” in A New Hope (1977). McGregor was part of the conversations about Kenobi’s characterization in the series, and rewatched the Skywalker Saga films to prepare. He also read science fiction novels, including those written by Iain M. Banks, for the role.
- Rupert Friend as the Grand Inquisitor:
A member of the Pau’an species from Utapau who is the highest-ranking Inquisitor of the Galactic Empire. He was once a member of the Jedi Order, serving as a Jedi Temple Guard. Friend said the character enjoyed the sound of his own voice and naively believed himself to be “on a par” with Darth Vader, wishing to replace him as Emperor Palpatine’s apprentice. Friend was excited to bring the Grand Inquisitor to live action and wanted to remain faithful to his characterization in the animated series Star Wars Rebels, though he, Chow, and Rebels co-creator Dave Filoni did not want Friend to do an impression of original actor Jason Isaacs.
- Sung Kang as the Fifth Brother: An Inquisitor who rivals Reva and strictly follows orders from both the Grand Inquisitor and Darth Vader. The Fifth Brother was previously voiced by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez in Rebels.
- Moses Ingram as Reva Sevander / Third Sister:
A ruthless, ambitious Inquisitor who feels a need to prove herself to the Grand Inquisitor and Darth Vader. A former Jedi Youngling, she secretly plots revenge against Vader for killing her peers during Order 66. Reva shares a common goal in being dedicated to finding Kenobi, though she is open to using more impulsive tactics. Harold believed Reva would “contribute to the legacy of Star Wars villains in a really interesting way”, while Ingram described her as a “full-on athlete” and a badass. Ingram felt forgiveness was a central theme of her character, and that Reva was motivated by trauma from the pain of her past, adding “if she could let it go, or if she could at least cope better, she wouldn’t need to do the things that she’s doing”. She also influenced Reva’s appearance, insisting that the character use her natural kinky hair rather than a wig so that African-American children could imitate the character for Halloween. Ayaamii Sledge portrays a young Reva.
- Vivien Lyra Blair as Leia Organa: Anakin Skywalker’s daughter, Luke’s twin sister, and a princess on Alderaan kidnapped by hired bounty hunters.
- Kumail Nanjiani as Haja Estree: A street-level con artist working on the streets of Daiyu, posing as a Jedi. Nanjiani researched real-life con artists and magicians to prepare for the role.
- Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader:
Kenobi’s former apprentice who fell to the dark side and became a Sith Lord. He is the father of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. Having not played the character since 2005, Christensen rewatched the Skywalker Saga films, as well as the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels, to prepare for the role. He enjoyed seeing how the animated series had further explored the relationship between Anakin and Kenobi. Christensen was excited to portray Darth Vader, having primarily portrayed the character as Anakin Skywalker previously, and discussed how to portray Vader’s simultaneous strength and imprisonment with Chow; he called Vader in the series “very powerful”. While Christensen primarily portrays Vader, Dmitrious Bistrevsky serves as the in-suit performer for Vader, while Tom O’Connell served as the stunt double. James Earl Jones’s voice is used for Darth Vader, as with previous Star Wars media, but his lines in the series were generated by an AI program called Respeecher (which was also used for Luke Skywalker in The Book of Boba Fett) based on recordings of Jones from the films.
- Indira Varma as Tala Durith: A disillusioned Imperial officer on the planet Mapuzo who helps Jedi escape the Empire with help from The Path.
- O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Kawlan Roken: A leader in The Path network who helps Jedi escape the Empire.
- Benny Safdie as Nari: A Jedi hiding on Tatooine who escaped Order 66 as a Youngling.
- Joel Edgerton as Owen Lars: A moisture farmer on Tatooine, Anakin Skywalker’s step-brother, and Luke’s uncle who is skeptical of Kenobi’s presence on Tatooine and desired involvement with Luke’s life.
- Bonnie Piesse as Beru Whitesun Lars: Owen’s wife and Luke’s aunt.
- Simone Kessell as Breha Organa: Queen of Alderaan, Leia’s adoptive mother, and wife of Bail Organa. Breha was originally portrayed by Rebecca Jackson Mendoza in Revenge of the Sith.
- Flea as Vect Nokru: A bounty hunter hired to kidnap Leia Organa.
- Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa: Leia’s adoptive father and Senator of Alderaan.
- Marisé Álvarez as Nyche Horn: A refugee with a young son seeking transport from Daiyu to Corellia.
- Rya Kihlstedt as the Fourth Sister: An Inquisitor.
- Zach Braff as the voice of Freck: A transport driver for the Imperial mining facility on the planet Mapuzo.
- Maya Erskine as Sully: A member in The Path network who helps Jedi escape the Empire.
- Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine: The Dark Lord of the Sith and Darth Vader’s master.
McGregor entered negotiations to star in a television series for Disney+ centered on Obi-Wan Kenobi by mid-August 2019. Later that month, at Disney’s D23 event, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and McGregor officially announced that the actor would be reprising his role as Kenobi in a new series for Disney+, set eight years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). Filming was scheduled to begin in July 2020, and scripts for the six-episode limited series had already been written by Amini at the time of the announcement. McGregor said the announcement was a relief, explaining that he had been lying about his involvement in a Kenobi spin-off for four years. A month later, Kennedy announced that Deborah Chow would direct the Kenobi series after impressing Kennedy with her work directing episodes of The Mandalorian.
In November 2019, Amini said the series’ time period was fascinating since Kenobi is dealing with the loss of his friends and the Jedi Order, which allowed Amini to explore aspects of the Star Wars franchise other than action, such as its spiritual side. He took inspiration from the sources that Star Wars creator George Lucas was originally inspired by, including Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Samurai history and culture, and Buddhism. Comparing the series’ scripts to his original film plans, Amini said he was able to explore the character, politics, and history more in the series than in a two-hour film where “there is always an imperative for the action and the plot to move particularly fast”. Chow felt her work on The Mandalorian was the best training she could have for the Kenobi series, learning from that series’ executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni.
Pre-production on the series was underway at Pinewood Studios in London by January 2020, and screen tests were taking place with potential actors opposite McGregor. By the end of the month, rumors began circulating that the series had been cancelled due to production problems. While this was not the case, the series was put on indefinite hold and the assembled crew was sent home. Kennedy was said to be unhappy with the series’ scripts, which reportedly featured a storyline similar to the story of The Mandalorian, in which the title character protects “The Child”, with Kenobi protecting a young Skywalker from various threats. Chow had shown these scripts to Favreau and Filoni, who expressed concern over the similarities to The Mandalorian and encouraged Chow and the series to “go bigger”. Lucasfilm began looking for a new writer for the series to start over on the scripts, with Chow still expected to direct. Kennedy explained that they were hoping to have a “hopeful, uplifting story”, and said executing that would be tricky given the state that Kenobi is in after Revenge of the Sith. She added, “You can’t just wave the magic wand with any writer and arrive at a story that necessarily reflects what you want to feel”. The goal was for pre-production to begin again in mid-2020 once the scripts had been rewritten. The series was also reportedly being reworked from six episodes to four, but McGregor said he did not believe this was the case. He added that Lucasfilm had decided to spend more time working on the scripts following the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), and filming had been postponed until January 2021, but he did not think this would impact the series’ planned release schedule.
Joby Harold was hired to take over as writer from Amini in April 2020, and serve as showrunner. That October, filming was delayed until March 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At Disney’s Investor Day event on December 10, Kennedy announced that the series was officially titled Obi-Wan Kenobi, and confirmed that Chow was directing. In February 2021, McGregor revealed that filming for the series would take place in Los Angeles rather than London and Boston, Lincolnshire, England, as had previously been reported. The series is executive-produced by Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Chow, McGregor, and Harold, and consists of six episodes.
Obi-Wan Kenobi was conceived as a limited series, with Chow describing it as “one big story with a beginning, middle, and end”. Despite this, Kennedy said there was a chance that more of the series could be made due to the enjoyable time the cast and crew had creating it, as long as there was a compelling story reason to return to the character, with both McGregor and Christensen expressing interest in making another season. In April 2023, Kennedy noted a second season was not considered an “active development” for Lucasfilm, reiterating Chow and McGregor’s interest in more, and stating the company might return to the character and storyline “down the road”.
May 27, 2022
- E01 – “Part I”
- E02 – “Part II”
- E03 – “Part III”
- E04 – “Part IV”
- E05 – “Part V”
- E06 – “Part VI”
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