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Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

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"When I was casting the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi for Star Wars, I was looking for an actor who brought a certain authority to the role. Someone who was powerful yet gentle and that came across in Alec as a person and as an actor."
―George Lucas on Alec Guinness[3]

Sir Alec Guinness CH CBE (April 2, 1914August 5, 2000) was an English actor who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original trilogy.

Besides his portrayal of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Guinness won acclaim for many roles on live theater, television, and film, including his Academy Award-winning role as Lt. Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai. He was honored with a knighthood in 1959, and an Academy Honorary Award in 1980.

In 1973, he had a role as Adolf Hitler in Hitler: The Last Ten Days, which also starred Star Wars actors Julian Glover and Kenneth Colley, and he had a prominent role in Lawrence of Arabia as Prince Feisal. Other memorable films in which he performed include Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, The Ladykillers, and Doctor Zhivago.

Biography[]

Original trilogy[]

Alec Guinness was born on April 2, 1914.[1] During the casting process for the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi for Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, director George Lucas was looking for an actor who brought a certain authority to the role and could be powerful and gentle. Lucas found these qualities in Guinness,[3] who joined the cast because of the film's sense of moral good and the studio's doubling of his initial salary offer.[4] Lucas wanted Kenobi to die, however, Guinness objected to his character's death. Lucas then explained that Kenobi would have little to do after the Millennium Falcon escaped the Death Star, which conviced Guinness to allow the death.[5] Guinness was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film.[6] He reprised his role as a force ghost in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back[7] and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi.[8] Guinness' contract gave him 2.25% of the director's cut. He viewed A New Hope as "fairy-tale rubbish," and he disliked being associated with the role of Kenobi.[4] Despite this, Brian Blessed, an actor who met Guinness many times, stated that Guinness was "madly in love" with the Star Wars films.[9]

Legacy[]

"I always have the acting challenge of playing a younger Alec Guinness, and that's my great joy in doing this, is to feel like I'm moving towards becoming Alec Guinness, you know. That's always where I'm trying to do."
―Ewan McGregor discussing playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in Obi-Wan Kenobi[10]

On August 5, 2000, Guinness died from liver cancer at King Edward VII Hospital in England.[4] When Ewan McGregor played Kenobi in the 2005 film Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith,[11] he came up with the idea for he and the crew to look at pictures of Guinness in A New Hope to bridge the gap between the two actors. Also, his hair and beard were grayed a little bit to get closer to Guinness's portrayal.[12]

Edited audio of Guinness saying the word "afraid" was used for Kenobi to say "Rey" in Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens.[13]

When Joby Harold was writing the Obi-Wan Kenobi television series, he wanted to understand the story of what happened to Kenobi between McGregor and Guinness' portrayal of him.[14] When McGregor was playing Kenobi, he made it seem like the character would grow up to be Guinness by trying to sound and feel like Guinness, but he didn't want to do an impersonation. To relearn his Kenobi voice, McGregor listened to a sound file that has all of Guinness' lines from A New Hope.[15] McGregor imagined how Guinness would say the lines before filming a scene.[16]

Filmography[]

Year Title Series Contribution(s) Notes
1977 Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope Obi-Wan Kenobi[17]
1980 Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back Obi-Wan Kenobi[7]
1983 Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi[8]
2015 Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens Obi-Wan Kenobi Edited audio[13]
2018 "Luke Skywalker - The Journey Begins" Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Obi-Wan Kenobi
2018 "Luke vs. the Wampa - Cavern Escape" Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Obi-Wan Kenobi
2018 "Luke vs. the Death Star - X-wing Assault" Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Obi-Wan Kenobi
2018 "Han Solo - Galaxy's Best Smuggler" Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Obi-Wan Kenobi
2019 "Luke Skywalker – Lightsaber Training" Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Obi-Wan Kenobi
2019 "Jedi vs. Sith - The Skywalker Saga" Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Obi-Wan Kenobi
2019 Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker Obi-Wan Kenobi

Sources[]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 This Week in Star Wars logo This Week! in Star Wars Star Wars: The High Republic Characters Revealed, Your Cute Pets, and more! on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  2. Star Wars Year By Year: A Visual History, Updated and Expanded Edition
  3. 3.0 3.1 StarWars Sir Alec Guinness Remembered on StarWars.com (content now obsolete; backup link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Alec Guinness, Reluctant Intergalactic Icon on cancertoday (archived from the original on July 22, 2020)
  5. The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film
  6. Awards Database on awardsdatabase.oscars.org (content obsolete and backup link not available)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
  8. 8.0 8.1 Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
  9. YouTube Boss Nass Warned George Lucas about Jar Jar Binks (Brian Blessed Interview) on the The Geeknd [Jamie Stangroom] YouTube channel (backup link)
  10. YouTube Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen & Moses Ingram Answer 7 Star Wars Questions | Vanity Fair on the Vanity Fair YouTube channel (backup link)
  11. Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
  12. YouTube Ewan McGregor on Obi-Wan Kenobi's Ever Changing Hair Styles | Entertainment Weekly on the Entertainment Weekly YouTube channel (backup link)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Obi-Wan and Yoda are secretly in Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Breznican, Anthony on Entertainment Weekly (December 20, 2015) (archived from the original on March 19, 2018)
  14. Inside the 17-year journey to reunite Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen for Obi-Wan Kenobi by Ross, Dalton on Entertainment Weekly (March 10, 2022) (archived from the original on March 10, 2022)
  15. YouTube 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' Star Ewan McGregor Explains Why He Sounds So 'Alec Guinness-y' | Rotten Tomatoes TV on the Rotten Tomatoes TV YouTube channel (backup link)
  16. YouTube Star Wars Spin-Off OBI-WAN KENOBI: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Moses Ingram & Deborah Chow on the Kino Plus YouTube channel (backup link)
  17. Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope

External links[]

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