Ewan McGregor has said he tried to “think and feel” Sir Alec Guinness when reprising his famous role in Star Wars.
Obi-Wan Kenobi appeared in the first six Star Wars films, played by Sir Alec in episodes IV-VI and then by McGregor in episodes I-III.
The upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series for Disney+ will see Scottish actor McGregor reprise his role more than 15 years after he starred in the three Star Wars prequels from 1999 to 2005.
Speaking about the character during a press conference, McGregor said: “It all came from Alec Guinness, he has this wit behind his eyes, he had a twinkle.
“I guess that’s in the writing, but for me I always try and think of him and try to feel him, hear him saying the lines.
“That’s why I think the writing was so, so good in this because right from the word go, all of his dialogue felt to me like it could have been Alec Guinness saying it, then I knew we were on the right path.”
The new Star Wars spin-off series begins 10 years after the events of the film Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith where Kenobi faced the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker.
McGregor said: “For 10 years Obi-Wan has been in hiding living a solitary life, in a way he has lost his faith, like someone who has lost their religion.
“It was just interesting to take a character that we know and love from Alec Guinness’s creation of the character in the 70s, this wise spiritual sage-like man, to take him to a more broken place was really interesting to do.
“Just being closer to Alec Guinness was interesting. Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan when we find him is a solitary figure living in the desert alone and my Obi-Wan is a bit closer to his.”
The series also marks the return of Hayden Christensen in the role of the classic Star Wars villain.
Talking about his relationship with the Canadian actor, McGregor said: “We were so close when we made episode one and two together.
“We filmed it in Australia, so both away from home and we had so much training for the fights together and then being on set together but also because we were so far from home, we spent a lot of time outside of work together – so we were close.
“Over the years we lost touch, I hadn’t seen him for years but when I saw him again, it was great.
“When we were filming together it was like some time-warp, looking across at him on set it was like the last 17 years didn’t happen.”
McGregor said it was a “long slow process” coming back to playing the character after a long hiatus, admitting he had to work on his light saber moves and the Kenobi voice.
He said: “Luckily we had months before we actually started shooting so I went back and did some homework watching Alec Guinness and what I had done in the other films.
“But playing him felt like he had always been there, ready to come out any minute, just his voice needed a bit of work.”
The actor added that it was the Star Wars fans’ devotion for the films that convinced him to be part of the next instalment.
He added: “The difficult thing about being in the prequels was when they came out they were not seemingly well-received, there was no social media or direct avenue to the fans.
“When the first film came out I was six or seven and I will never forget that feeling and my relationship with those first three films – that’s one of the craziest things about this is that I am now in it.
“So once those kids who were my age when the prequels came out grew up a bit and I was able to meet them and I started hearing that people really liked them and they couldn’t understand why I thought they weren’t liked when they came out, it meant a lot to me.
“I’m sure it is why I wanted to do this again was because of that – the Star Wars fans are amazingly passionate, some of the strongest fans in the world and to be able to give them something like this is really exciting.”
The upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series is part of a collection of live-action Star Wars shows being created for Disney+.
The streaming service announced in 2020 that it had 10 Star Wars series spin-offs planned, which includes The Mandalorian and The Book Of Boba Fett, which premiered at the end of 2021.
Obi-Wan Kenobi will be available on Disney+ from May 25.