Deborah Chow is a Canadian filmmaker best known for the 2010 film The High Cost of Living and her work on the Marvel Cinematic Universe television series Jessica Jones in 2018. She directed two episodes of the live-action Star Wars television series The Mandalorian and all six episodes of the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi.


The Mandalorian[]

"My dad was Chinese, and he was a huge movie fan, when I grew up he was watching Hong Kong action films. So it kind of gets that reference. I tried to bring out a little Hard Boiled with the baby. It was kind of an amazing thing because it was like coming back to classic cinema and filmmaking. So there's definitely a lot of my dad in that episode. Sadly he didn't get to see this. But he would be very proud. He would probably also be in shock."
―Deborah Chow, on directing The Mandalorian[2]

Deborah Chow directed "Chapter 3: The Sin" of the first season of the Disney+ television series The Mandalorian,[3] drawing inspiration from Akira Kurosawa's 1961 Japanese ronin samurai film Yojimbo and John Woo's 1992 Hong Kong cop-and-kid film Hard Boiled for the dynamics between the titular Mandalorian, Din Djarin, and "the Child," Grogu. Chow particularly tried to bring out the spirit of Hong Kong action films that her late father loved to watch.[2] She also directed "Chapter 7: The Reckoning" of The Mandalorian[4] and played the pilot Sash Ketter in "Chapter 6: The Prisoner."[5] Chow was later approached to return as Ketter in the second season episode "Chapter 10: The Passenger" for a scene where she would have appeared alongside Paul Sun-Hyung Lee's New Republic pilot Carson Teva, but her commitments to Obi-Wan Kenobi prevented her from reprising her role due to her busy schedule, so Dave Filoni filled-in for Chow by returning as Trapper Wolf.[6] Chow eventually reprised her role as Ketter in the third season episode "Chapter 21: The Pirate."[7]

Obi-Wan Kenobi television series[]

"And for me also taking on [George Lucas'] legacy, it's an honor to take these characters and be able to tell a new story with them. So I wanted to be very respectful to what exists and not change anything that George intended originally or anything like that."
―Deborah Chow discussing directing Obi-Wan Kenobi[8]

When the Obi-Wan Kenobi anthology film evolved into a television series, the original director, Stephen Daldry, departed and Deborah Chow joined the project to keep the series cinematic in scope.[9] On September 27, 2019, StarWars.com announced that Deborah Chow would direct the Obi-Wan Kenobi television miniseries. Lucasfilm Ltd. president Kathleen Kennedy said that she and the crew wanted a director who can "explore both the quiet determination and rich mystique of Obi-Wan in a way that folds seamlessly into the Star Wars saga." Kennedy said that she was confident that Chow was the right director because of how she developed characters in The Mandalorian. It was also announced that the series would be written by Hossein Amini. Chow, Amini, and Ewan McGregor were going to serve as executive producers alongside Kennedy.[10] Chow felt honored to be able to enter the mythology and to inherit the galaxy with returning characters.[11]

After Amini was replaced by writer Joby Harold, Chow and Harold crafted a new story that took place 10 years after Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.[12] Chow's starting place was that she wanted to do something that was character-based and character-driven because that was the benefit of having more time to tell a character story in a limited series.[13] She also wanted to show how Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith changed into the peaceful Kenobi seen in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. She found it difficult to balance telling her own story and what director George Lucas did with the original trilogy. She was drawn to the father-daughter story because her dad was a pivotal person in her life.[11] For reference, Chow looked at atmospheric and poetic films like The Proposition and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.[14] She also felt like she absorbed a lot of the speed and imagination of Asian martial arts movies. Chow looked at the fighting in the prequels and started to make it bigger and add some modern elements to it.[11] Chow wanted a mixture of characters who are important in Kenobi's life and completely new characters.[15] The approach was always to create one full story that had a beginning, middle, and end. Kenobi was meant to be a lost and broken man who felt responsible for what happened to Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith. The series was designed to focus on Kenobi's journey from pain to a modicum of peace.[12] Chow wanted the series to focus on who Ben Kenobi is instead of his Jedi identity.[11] Chow said the crew inherited some of the original plot, but they made significant changes and added a few different elements.[12]

Chow was very mindful of filling in gaps in the Star Wars timeline. She felt honored to take George Lucas's characters and be able to tell a new story with them. Because of this, Chow wanted to be very respectful to existing material and to not change anything that Lucas originally intended. Despite this, Chow felt that the show had room for interpretation. Ewan McGregor, the actor who played Kenobi in the series, enjoyed working with Chow and said she's an amazing director. He added that she had such quiet authority and understood the world and always knew what she wanted. During the pre-production process, Chow managed to merge the new world of the show with the worlds established in the previous trilogies. She took things that were made on the set in 1975 and linked it to what actors said in 2003 and made it all work.[8]

Chow wanted Darth Vader to return because he was important to Kenobi in his life.[13] She believed that there is a "love-story dynamic" between Kenobi and Vader, so she felt like it was difficult to not include the person who left Kenobi in a state of anguish. Chow was intrigued by the idea that Kenobi might still care deeply about Vader despite what he had become.[9] Eventually, it was decided that Vader would appear and he would be played by Hayden Christensen, the actor who played Skywalker in the prequel trilogy. Writer Joby Harold thought it was important to have Christensen be a part of the project because he was a massive part of the character. Harold said that the whole crew made it a priority to handle Vader with as much care as possible "to honor one of the greatest villains and antagonists in the history of entertainment."[12] In the fall of 2019, Chow went to Christensen's farm to make her pitch in person. Chow talked about the project and her vision for it.[12] She promised that Vader would add a new dimension that could reframe the way fans look at Vader and Kenobi's lightsaber duel in A New Hope.[9] Christensen thought it sounded wonderful and was excited to return to Star Wars.[12]

When Christensen first came on the set, Chow thought it was intense to have an iconic character and that she was able to direct and film new scenes with him.[12] Chow also found it interesting because she started to see the different generations that connect to Star Wars. Chow enjoyed working with Christensen and thought he was wonderful.[13] Many of Christensen's conversations with Chow were about him wanting to "convey this feeling of strength, but also coupled with imprisonment," which he thought was an interesting space to explore. When Chow became the showrunner, she championed a rematch between Kenobi and Vader as Lucasfilm contemplated going that route. In March 2020, Vader's return was finalized.[9] Chow and the crew made sure that Vader was not overused in order to keep the character's mystique.[14]

Chow and Harold described Inquisitor Reva as ruthless and ambitious. She found it exciting to bring a female villain into the show and to have a dark side woman in a significant role.[12] Chow wanted Reva to be played by a young woman that the audience would believe could take on Darth Vader. Chow liked Moses Ingram's strength, intelligence, and charisma, so she was excited when she and the crew casted her in the part of Reva.[11] After Ingram spent a week auditioning, Chow told her that she got the part in a Zoom call.[16] Chow liked that Reva was not from the animated series and she thought Ingram did a fantastic job playing the character.[17] Chow and Ingram had many conversations about what the right hair might be for Reva. Ingram hoped that her look for Reva's hair would allow Black children with kinky hair to wear their natural hair in Halloween costumes. Ingram said that Chow was very great with moving from the initial vision to what they ended up with.[12] Chow said that Darth Maul was never in any part of the series because Dave Filoni concluded Maul's story[18] in the Star Wars Rebels episode "Twin Suns."[19] She also worried that having Maul and Vader in the series would have been "a little bit much."[18]

When costume director Suttirat Anne Larlarb first met Chow, the director said she liked how Larlarb talked about culture and history as it relates to costume. She added that Larlarb's approach to the show American Gods would be very similar to Kenobi uncovering all of the cultural stones necessary to create the worlds seen in the series. Larlarb was then hired as the series' costume designer.[20] One day, the actor Kumail Nanjiani received a call from his agents and after waiting an hour, the callers told Nanjiani that he was wanted in theObi-Wan Kenobi television series. The callers told Nanjiani they could not tell him about his character or anything else, and they asked him to speak with Chow. In a Zoom meeting, Chow pitched the idea to Nanjiani to convinvce him to join the project. Nanjiani quickly agreed to joining and he said it was a very easy decison.[21] Chow also spoke with actress Indira Varma about joining the show. Varma felt like she could trust Chow's sensibilities, both to value emotion over action and to uplift female voices. When they spoke, Varma liked how Chow wanted the show to be character driven and Chow asked for her input.[22] Chow also offered the role of a young Leia Organa to the actress Vivien Lyra Blair.[23] She loved that the series would acknowledge that Organa played a pivotal role in Star Wars.[11]

Chow said that the strongest connective tissue for the crew is to the prequels because it is where the series' characters come from and it is where their stories started.[12] Bonnie Piesse, the actress who played Beru Lars in the prequels, received a message from Chow to chat, but she at first did not recognize it as having to do with work. She subsequently ignored the message for almost a week until realizing the message was for casting. Piesse then joined a call from Portugal and Chow convinced her to return to the role of Beru Lars.[24] Chow was very excited to bring Joel Edgerton and Piesse back to play Owen and Beru Lars, respectively, and she said their return was part of what made the series special.[12] She was also thankful that George Lucas casted Edgerton as Owen.[25] In early June, actor Grant Feely had a director's callback with Chow. He later flew to Los Angeles to do an in-person audition with Chow. In early July, Chow called Feely to offer him the role of young Luke Skywalker in the series.[26] Chow spoke with Liam Neeson, the actor who played Qui-Gon Jinn in the prequels, and told him that McGregor would reprise his role as Kenobi in a series. She explained what Jinn would do in the series, and Leeson then said he was definitely onboard.[11] Chow chose actress Ming Qiu to play[27] Jedi Master Minas Velti in "Part I."[28] Chow explained that a large chunk of the show took place on Tatooine because of the nature of where the starting place was for the story, but she promised the show would visit new worlds.[12]

When Joby Harold was writing fight scenes, such as Kenobi and Vader's duel on Mapuzo, he tried to find a way for character to come through action. He wrote the choreography from a character point of view, which got handed off to stunt coordinator Jojo Eusebio who developed the fight sequence with Chow.[29] Chow wanted to make Vader's arrival in the Mapuzo mining village to be similar to a horror movie where the monster would appear and then disappear.[11] Lucasfilm art director Doug Chiang, Chow, and other crew members met virtually to discuss what purpose KP-1, the astromech droid desgined by Camille Manet, could serve in the show. Chow suggested that the droid could be put in the "pseudo rebel base" and have some functionality. She told the builders to think of the droid's personality as "a scrappy little fighter."[30] Chow and the crew looked at references of old whaling stations for the Sandwhale Farm, and it was her favorite set.[11] Propmaster Brad Elliott and his team were led by Chow.[31] She worried that the wupiupi props were too large for swift hand-to-hand transactions, so the coins were scaled down slightly with the same art as the first design in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace.[31] When director Chow visited the creature shop, she suggested that the Boosodian's head could belong to someone who would be amazing at stopping shoplifters. A crew member suggested that the character could own a store and would be able to watch everyone, which Chow agreed with.[11]

Daiyu was one of Chow's favorite planets. Some of the earliest references were places like the Bangkok night market and the city Hong Kong at night; Chow took inspiration from the Hong Kong films of director Wong Kar-Wai and similar works.[11] Chow told Feely to not watch any Star Wars movies so that he could act like a regular boy instead of Mark Hamill's portrayal of the character in the original trilogy.[26] Chow wanted Palpatine to tell Vader that his obsession with Kenobi is a weakness. She told Ian McDiarmid to film his scene as Palpatine between being on an edge and having some lines be more casual. On the 125th day of shooting, filming ended and Chow thanked the cast and the crew for contributing to the series.[11] After the show was finished, Chow wanted to take a vacation from directing.[14] She was interviewed for Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return, a documentary about the making of Obi-Wan Kenobi. She was also an executive producer for the documentary.[11]



Year Title Series Contribution(s)
2019 "Chapter 3: The Sin" The Mandalorian Director[3]
2019 "Chapter 6: The Prisoner" The Mandalorian Sash Ketter[5]
2019 "Chapter 7: The Reckoning" The Mandalorian Director[4]
2022 "Part I" Obi-Wan Kenobi Director[10]
2022 "Part II" Obi-Wan Kenobi Director[10]
2022 "Part III" Obi-Wan Kenobi Director[10]
2022 "Part IV" Obi-Wan Kenobi Director[10]
2022 "Part V" Obi-Wan Kenobi Director[10]
2022 "Part VI" Obi-Wan Kenobi Director[10]
2022 Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return Executive Producer, Special Thanks to[11]
2023 Chapter 21: The Pirate The Mandalorian Sash Ketter[7]


Notes and references[]

  1. YouTube Star Wars Spin-Off OBI-WAN KENOBI: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Moses Ingram & Deborah Chow on the Kino Plus YouTube channel (backup link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Mandalorian: Deborah Chow Reveals the Inspiration For the Baby Yoda Rescue by Anthony Breznican on Vanity Fair (November 22, 2019) (archived from the original)
  3. 3.0 3.1 The-Mandalorian-logo The Mandalorian — "Chapter 3: The Sin"
  4. 4.0 4.1 The-Mandalorian-logo The Mandalorian — "Chapter 7: The Reckoning"
  5. 5.0 5.1 The-Mandalorian-logo The Mandalorian — "Chapter 6: The Prisoner"
  6. YouTube Paul Sun-Hyung Lee Is My New Best Friend - Comm Chatter #7 on the Star Wars Explained YouTube channel: "Last week I sat down to talk Star Wars, cosplay, The Mandalorian, and general nerdiness with Carson Teva himself, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee!" (backup link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 The-Mandalorian-logo The Mandalorian — "Chapter 21: The Pirate"
  8. 8.0 8.1 How Obi-Wan Kenobi changes the meaning behind a classic Star Wars line by Ross, Dalton on Entertainment Weekly (March 26, 2022) (archived from the original on April 26, 2022)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Star Wars: The Rebellion Will Be Televised by Breznican, Anthony on Vanity Fair (May 17, 2022) (archived from the original on May 17, 2022)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 StarWars Deborah Chow to Direct Obi-Wan Kenobi Series Exclusively on Disney+ on StarWars.com (backup link)
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 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)
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Obi-Wan Kenobi director explains the return of Darth Vader by Ross, Dalton on Entertainment Weekly (March 24, 2022) (archived from the original on March 24, 2022)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 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)
  15. Obi-Wan Kenobi director explains the return of Darth Vader by Shepherd, Jack on GamesRadar (April 26, 2022) (archived from the original on April 26, 2022)
  16. YouTube Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen & Moses Ingram Answer 7 Star Wars Questions | Vanity Fair on the Vanity Fair YouTube channel (backup link)
  17. How Moses Ingram made a Star Wars Halloween character for Black girls on Obi-Wan Kenobi by Ross, Dalton on Entertainment Weekly (April 6, 2022) (archived from the original on April 6, 2022)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Darth Maul Was Never Going to be in Obi-Wan Kenobi by Muir-Taylor, Casey on IGN (April 25, 2022) (archived from the original on April 25, 2022)
  19. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Twin Suns"
  20. Interview with Suttirat Larlarb by Foss, Gary on www.costumedesignersguild.com (June 13, 2022) (archived from the original on August 3, 2022)
  21. Kumail Nanjiani shares first details of Obi-Wan Kenobi con-man character Haja by Ross, Dalton on Entertainment Weekly (May 20, 2022) (archived from the original on March 11, 2022)
  22. Indira Varma On Her Obi-Wan Kenobi Character Reveal: "Tala Has A Lovely Arc" by Pucket-Pope, Lauren on Elle (June 1, 2022) (archived from the original on June 6, 2022)
  23. Facebook icon Vivien Lyra Blair (@vivienlyrablairofficial) on Facebook: Vivien Lyra Blair talks about joining Obi-Wan Kenobi (May 29, 2022): "Like most little girls I was drawn to Leia. 💫 When I went to #disneyland and flew the Millennium Falcon for the first time around 6 years old I was hooked on the whole galaxy! ✨ So when Deborah offered me the role I was speechless. She had to ask me for sure if I was saying yes! Then I got to spend the summer playing with droids, meeting an amazing crew, acting with a cast that made me feel special and respected and learning so much. And now I've met the fans who've made this journey even more incredible! 👀 The memories of this #obiwankenobi adventure will always be a part of me. Thank you to everyone that helped make this happen and thank you for believing in me😻" (backup link)
  24. Bonnie Piesse Escaped The Cult NXIVM. Now, She's Back In The Star Wars Universe. by Pope-Puckett, Lauren on Elle (May 24, 2022) (archived from the original on May 24, 2022)
  25. See exclusive first-look photos from Obi-Wan Kenobi by Ross, Dalton on Entertainment Weekly (March 9, 2022) (archived from the original on March 11, 2022)
  26. 26.0 26.1 The Force is With Grant Feely by Mariana González on Rival Magazine LA (archived from the original on August 5, 2022)
  27. Instagram-Logo Ming Qiu (@sunmoonl) on Instagram: Ming Qiu discusses playing Minas Velti (June 25, 2022): "I'm grateful to have chance to play Jedi master Minas Veiti on Obi Wan. Thank you Deborah for choose me, our awesome cast and crew, our stunt coordinator Jonathan Eusebio, my jedi younglings!" (backup link)
  28. Obi-Wan Kenobi new series logo Obi-Wan Kenobi — "Part I"
  29. 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' Writer Joby Harold Relieved Leia Was Kept Secret by Davids, Brian on The Hollywood Reporter (June 7, 2022) (archived from the original on June 7, 2022)
  30. SWYTlogo Build My Droid Contest | Obi-Wan Kenobi | Disney+ on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  31. 31.0 31.1 StarWars Inside the Lucasfilm Archive: An Elegant Weapon and Other Jedi Artifacts from the Obi-Wan Kenobi Limited Series on StarWars.com (backup link)

External links[]