Recasting the Star Wars saga: Nicholas Hoult as Young Obi-Wan Kenobi
Let’s start with one of the most important roles from the prequel trilogy: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Originally played by Ewan McGregor, Obi-Wan is our main point of contact throughout the prequels, as we watch him go from starry-eyed youth in The Phantom Menace to grizzled war hero in Revenge of the Sith, all without ever losing his basic sense of decency. Notably, McGregor was one of the few actors to make it out of the prequels with his dignity more or less intact, and whoever replaces him will have to have range, sensitivity, and finesse.
English actor Nicholas Hoult is the perfect guy to pick up the torch. Hoult is a sturdy actor who’s appeared in everything from special-effects laden super-franchises (he plays Beast in the X-Men series) to cheeky TV dramas (Tony in Skins). He’s a multi-faceted actor, but no matter what part he plays, there’s a certain wholesomeness that shines through. That wholesomeness is key to playing Obi-Wan Kenobi. We need something to hold on to between all the pratfalls and child-murdering that make up the prequel trilogy.
Take Hoult’s role as Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road. Nux is a hard-living, hard-driving foot soldier in the private army of a brutal despot, but by the end of the movie, we’ve come to sympathize with him, largely because Hoult’s performance convinces us that the character is a wounded innocent at his core. It reminds me a bit of McGregor’s performance in Trainspotting, where he played a sympathetic heroin addict. In both cases, the actor’s internal goodness shone through, and that quality makes them perfect for Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Next: Qui-Gon Jinn