Ewan McGregor: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Renton have existed in my brain for decades

Ewan McGregor has compared playing the Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi again to reviving his portrayal of Edinburgh heroin addict Renton - saying the two characters had both “existed” in his brain before he returned to them decades later.

Sunday, 15th May 2022, 4:31 pm
Ewan McGregor poses with Stormtroopers as he attends an "Obi-Wan Kenobi" photocall at the Corinthia Hotel in London. Picture Kate Green/Getty Images
Ewan McGregor poses with Stormtroopers as he attends an "Obi-Wan Kenobi" photocall at the Corinthia Hotel in London. Picture Kate Green/Getty Images

The Scottish screen star has revealed that he first agreed to discuss a forthcoming new series focusing on Obi-Wan Kenobi after being repeatedly asked whether he would ever return to the two roles.

McGregor said he felt like the two characters were still part of him more than 20 years after his original appearances.

The Perthshire-born actor will be reunited with Hayden Christensen in the new Disney series which is expected to see them cross lightsabers Star Wars icons Obi-Wan and Darth Vader.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

McGregor appeared as Obi-Wan Kenobi in three Star Wars prequels, with filming on the first, The Phantom Menace, getting underway in 1997, the year after starring as Renton in Trainspotting.

In an interview with Empire magazine, McGregor admitted he had found the mixed reaction from fans to the prequels “weird and difficult,” and did not envisage ever returning to the role again.

He told Empire: “I really loved acting in them and I loved playing Obi-Wan Kenobi.

"When they were finished, there was no thought to go on. There weren’t any spin-offs being made. We all just assumed that was it.

"A lot of people didn’t like the prequels and it was such hard work to make them. We all put our heart and soul into it.”

McGregor said filming with Christiensen again was “like walking back in time.”

He added: “I was looking across at him playing these scenes and it was like a time warp or something – like the last 20 years didn't really happen.

"It’s funny, playing both Renton and Obi-Wan again, how it feels like these characters have existed somewhere in your brain, even though you don’t know if you’re gonna play them again.

"When you come back to them, they’re the right age somehow. They come out like they’ve existed for the last 20 years somehow. And it’s because they’re part of you.”

McGregor signed up to play Obi-Wan Kenobi again three years ago but filming on the six-part series did not get underway until last year. The show, which is set between the third and fourth stories in the original franchise, will finally premiere on the Disney+ channel at the end of this month.

McGregor recalled: “My whole experience has been really good, right from when I started speaking to Disney years ago.

"They called me in because every interview I did, I was being asked two things – would I do a sequel to Trainspotting and would I play Obi-Wan Kenobi again?

"I would start saying: ‘Yeah, there’s a story between Episode III and IV.’ I was asked so much that Disney got me in and said: ‘Do you you mean it? Because we might do it.’ And I went ‘yeah!’ From that moment on, it’s been a really positive experience.”

McGregor said there would be more depth to the character in the series, which would allow fans to see the Jedi Knight “without his power”.

"You see much more of him as a man. You see more of him struggling with his demons, real struggles with his identity and such.”