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Obi-Wan Kenobi's Ewan McGregor Is Still Inspired by Alec Guinness

Ewan McGregor, the lead actor in the new Star Wars show coming to Disney Plus, tells reporters about the twinkle in the Original Trilogy actor's eye.

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, staring off into the distance
Obi-Wan Kenobi makes his comeback next week.
Lucasfilm

When the Obi-Wan Kenobi series kicks off on Disney Plus next Friday, May 27, Ewan McGregor will return as the beloved Jedi master he last played 17 years ago in the Star Wars prequel Revenge of the Sith. On Thursday, McGregor told reporters he slipped back into the character fairly easily but acknowledged that finding Kenobi's actual voice again proved challenging.

"When we came to do [screen testing] scenes with these other actors, I was doing this vague English accent and it wasn't really Obi-Wan's voice at all. And I was like, 'Oh, dear. That's not very good,'" the Scottish actor said. "Luckily, we had months before we actually started shooting. So I went back and did some homework with Alec Guinness and what I'd done before."

The character of Kenobi was introduced 45 years ago in 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope, where he was played by Guinness, who died in 2000. McGregor played a younger version of the character in the prequel trilogy and returns for the new show. McGregor said Thursday at a press conference about the show that he still looks to his predecessor for inspiration.

Alec Guinness as Kenobi in the original Star Wars film

Alec Guinness' Kenobi fights Darth Vader in the original Star Wars film.

Lucasfilm

"It all comes from Alec Guinness, [he] had this wit behind his eyes all the time, he had a twinkle," McGregor said. "I always try and think of him ... to hear him saying the lines."

Despite the humor and warmth infused in Kenobi by Guinness, the new show finds the character in a dark place a decade after the events of Revenge of the Sith and nine years before those of A New Hope. The Jedi Order acted as guardians of peace and justice, but the Galactic Empire virtually wiped them out as it seized the galaxy in a totalitarian grip.

Adding insult to injury, Kenobi's former apprentice Anakin Skywalker fell to the dark side of the Force and became Imperial enforcer Darth Vader.

New villain Reva, approaching with a red lightsaber

Reva is on the hunt for Jedi in the Disney Plus show.

Lucasfilm

There's even a bunch of goons, the Inquisitors, out hunting surviving Jedi around the galaxy. We've seen these lightsaber-wielding baddies before in CGI animated series Rebels and video game Jedi: Fallen Order. This show brings them into live action and introduces a new one in Reva, aka the Third Sister, played by Moses Ingram (who also spoke at the press conference and whom you might know from The Queen's Gambit).

"She's really smart; she plays the offense, and she's always 10 steps ahead," Ingram said of her character. "I think I was most intrigued by just her fervor, for what she does ... it's fun to be bad."

For series director Deborah Chow (who previously helmed some of Star Wars show The Mandalorian's finest episodes), the opportunity to do a character-driven story was a source of excitement.

"In a similar way to something like Joker or Logan [with quite a different tone], where you take one character out of a big franchise ...  and you go a lot deeper with them," she said during the presser, "that to me seemed really exciting to get to do in Star Wars."

Chow also revealed that she turned to one of the franchise's beloved elements to help her actors get into character: John Williams' classic score from the nine Skywalker Saga movies.

"The music brings the emotional component. What John Williams has done is so inextricably tied -- it is Star Wars," she said of the composer's work. "We put it on, and all of a sudden I see Moses get, like, two inches taller. Everybody responds to it."

Williams has reportedly returned to write the show's main theme, with Natalie Holt, the composer behind Marvel Cinematic Universe series Loki, apparently handling the rest of the soundtrack.

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