Why Ewan McGregor was reluctant to play Obi-Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor wasn't too sure if joining Star Wars was the right decision.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

Joining the Star Wars franchise wasn't an easy decision for Ewan McGregor, even if the opportunity to play an iconic character like Obi-Wan Kenobi was hard to pass up.

Before Episode I: The Phantom Menace, McGregor was known for Indie films, including the iconic hit Trainspotting where McGregor played a drug addict; a far cry from being surrounded by greenscreens and swinging a laser sword. Still, McGregor was destined to play the younger version of Alec Guinness's iconic Original Trilogy character, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. You can thank his work in Trainspotting for why LucasFilm noticed him as they began working on the Prequels.

McGregor initially had reservations as he didn't see himself being a part of such a well-known franchise, playing a character already established years ago. The actor acknowledged his discomfort with the idea as, "It wasn’t a done deal for me. I didn’t think it was at all who I was. I believed, at that point, I was a Danny Boyle actor." He got the role anyway, but some of his initial reservations may have been correct, as the prequels weren't received well initially.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). Image credit: StarWars.com /

Despite the generally positive reviews of McGregor's performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi, the actor says it was hard to digest the hate the prequels received, and it's something he has struggled with for years:

"I am happy that I am this character for a lot of people, but when these films came out, they were so disliked. That was hard. The first one was panned and we still had to make another two! It was weird to be in a film that was hammered ."

Ewan McGregor

Once the prequels wrapped up, McGregor moved on in his career, but buzz began that he might return to the franchise. McGregor began to realize that there was a growing demand that he come back as Obi-Wan. LucasFilm planned to make a film around his character, but that never happened. Throughout, McGregor knew he'd be coming back eventually but had to remain tight-lipped about any possible return. In 2020, LucasFilm ended all speculation by announcing Obi-Wan Kenobi, set 10 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith.

The series marked the return of McGregor and his co-star, Hayden Christensen. Their return was met with a lot of enthusiasm, and McGregor hopes the show gets a Season 2, despite it being written as a limited series. While the role may not have been something he wanted at first, he's grown to love being a part of the franchise and is seen often at various fan conventions.

For now, there's no Season 2 planned for Obi-Wan Kenobi, but there may be one in the future, especially since Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen are down for the idea.