"What Episode I star has been called 'the biggest thing out of Scotland since argyle socks'?"
―An Episode I preview question from Star Wars Trivial Pursuit indicating Ewan McGregor[3]

Ewan Gordon McGregor OBE (born March 31, 1971) is a Scottish film actor who has had significant success in mainstream, independent, and art-house films. He played the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy and the eponymous television series. Outwith Star Wars, McGregor is famed for starring in films such as Trainspotting and Moulin Rouge! and as a motorcyclist advocating for UNICEF programmes.


Early life[]

Ewan McGregor was born on March 31, 1971.[2] He grew up in Crieff, in Perth and Kinross, Scotland.[4] He wanted to be an actor when he was a child[5] and at five years old, McGregor joined his brother Colin at the local boarding school, Morrison's Academy. At school, he developed musical talent, playing drums and winning an award for the French horn. He could also sing quite well. He also had a talent for acting, and his first credit came along at six years old as King David in Crieff South Church's David and Goliath. His biggest inspiration for acting came in the form of his uncle, Denis Lawson. Lawson portrayed Rebellion pilot Wedge Antilles in all three episodes of the original trilogy.[4] McGregor was a fan of the original trilogy as a child,[6] and he and his brother would watch the films on video until it was worn out. McGregor was amazed by Alec Guinness' portrayal as Obi-Wan Kenobi,[7] and he wanted to be part of Star Wars.[6] At the age of nine, McGregor decided he wanted to become an actor.[7]

The prequel trilogy[]

"George Lucas wanted to do something very different with the prequels. That's why people felt cheated. It was upsetting when people would laugh and joke about it. Now, many years later, the prequels meant a lot to the generation that were kids then. So from smirking, cynical opinions, now I'm getting feedback from the kids they were made for. I'm really happy about that."
―Ewan McGregor on the prequel trilogy[8]

Ewan McGregor portrayed Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace,[9] When he began the casting process, he thought that Star Wars did not feel right to him. He was skeptical about playing Kenobi and thought "Well, I'm this independent, urban-y, grungy actor over here. I'm not this kind of guy."[10] McGregor did a lot of thinking and research, and he asked his acquaintance if it was the right thing to do.[6] Joining Star Wars was a difficult decision for McGregor,[11] but his anxiety eventually turned into excitement[10] as he got closer to being cast as Kenobi.[6] In December 1996, the actor did an audition interview in London. Shortly after that, McGregor was told that the role was offered to him.[7] McGregor was excited to play a younger Alec Guinness,[12] and he watched several films with Guinness as a young man to imagine him as a younger person.[7] He also studied Guinness and watched the original trilogy as preparation, but he did not really think about the genre.[13]

Director George Lucas showed McGregor around the studio and showed him the submarine that he would ride in. After that, they went to the props-making department, and the prop master showed him a chest of lightsaber props. McGregor then got to choose which lightsaber he would use in the film.[7] The first lightsaber work he did was when he trained for the duel against Darth Maul. He thought it was an amazing thing to be part of, and he found the duels to be very intricate and fast.[12] To show a padawan braid, McGregor had a braid that was stuck in his hair all day, but he liked the look of it.[14] McGregor said he enjoyed working with Lucas and fellow actors Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson,[10] and Ahmed Best,[6] who played Padmé Amidala, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Jar Jar Binks, respectively.[9]

Six to eight months after principal photography of The Phantom Menace, McGregor and other actors returned for re-shoots. He was working on something else, so he could not cut his hair or grow a beard. The crew made a short hair wig for McGregor, but he found it difficult to hide longer hair under a wig.[14] After The Phantom Menace received negative reviews, McGregor looked down on the franchise and had a hard time dealing with the reception knowing he had to be in more prequel films.[11]


Ewan McGregor practices lightsaber combat with Stunt Coordinator Nick Gillard during production on Attack of the Clones

McGregor portrayed an older Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones[15] Shortly after Hayden Christensen, the actor who played Anakin Skywalker, was picked by George Lucas, he felt nervous as he arrived at a soundstage in Sydney, Australia. He walked into the hair-and-makeup room to see his fellow actor for the first time. McGregor greeted Christensen as if they had been lifelong friends. He then welcomed Christensen into the family and helped ease Christensen's transition into the huge droid-factory-like machinery of the Star Wars universe. McGregor and Christensen practiced lightsaber rehearsals, which Christensen said was the most fun he had, and he described it as "playing with your friend every day." He also had lightsaber training with stunt coordinator Nick Gillard.[10] McGregor did not like Kenobi's hairstyle in the film, but he figured that it was supposed to show progression.[14] McGregor found it challenging to realistically speak to the Kaminoans because they were not really there.[6]

McGregor also portrayed Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.[16] It was McGregor's idea for he and the crew to look at pictures of Alec Guinness in Star Wars: Episode IV 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.[14] During filming, McGregor met by chance Ross Beadman, the child actor who played an ill-fated Jedi youngling, taking the chance to speak with him for ten minutes and invite him and his mother for champagne.[17] He said that the prequel trilogy presented difficulty due to "walking around with the big alien people that aren't really there and spending a lot of time on a blue set just speaking into the air," but he also said that there were aspects that he viewed as "mind-blowing."[6] The prequel trilogy was subjected to much criticism from audiences, which McGregor said was difficult to deal with. He also did not know how to deal with the criticism because he was early in his career.[10] McGregor was relieved to put the franchise behind him.[11]

Star Wars semi-hiatus[]

Since the news about the Star Wars sequel trilogy were announced in 2012, McGregor expressed interest in coming back to the series if asked to. He made a brief audio appearance in the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens as Kenobi's voice calling out to Rey in her Force-induced visions. Voice actor James Arnold Taylor, who voiced McGregor's character in different Star Wars media ranging from animation to video games, originally recorded the dialogue, but his recordings were replaced with McGregor's, a decision Taylor found logical and was fine with.[18]

Following the Star Wars Rebels second season's finale, Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni expressed his interest in having McGregor voice Obi-Wan Kenobi in the show despite Arnold Taylor's availability, being willing to bring back any Star Wars actors to reprise their movie roles in the show.[19] Stephen Stanton would ultimately voice Kenobi when he appeared in the third season episode "Twin Suns."[20]

Obi-Wan Kenobi television series[]

"It was nice to come back and to bridge that gap between me and Alec Guinness. I got as much, or more, out of playing him this time than I did in the first three movies put together. That's to do with the writing, and the people we were making the series with, and the technology, and how different everything is. If we were to get an opportunity to do it again, I'd be totally up for that."
―Ewan McGregor[21]

McGregor knew about an Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off project as far back as 2015,[22] and until 2019, he was forced to withhold information in interviews.[23] In 2016, McGregor said that he did not have a burning need to play Kenobi again and he said he did not have any fascination for the Star Wars movies. He said it was possibly because he had already been in the movies and had "seen behind the curtain." He added that the movies did not "have the same type of wonderment" to him. McGregor met many people who were kids when the prequels were released who expressed how important the films were to them. He enjoyed the "wave of positivity"[10] and praise for his role as Kenobi,[11] which sparked something in him[10] and he realised he also loved his role.[11]

In interviews, McGregor stated that he was open to returning as Kenobi in Star Wars, but he worried he was too open. He told people he'd be happy to play Kenobi if Lucasfilm wanted, and people thought that he was "touting for work at Disney's door." It was publicly believed that McGregor was happy to play Kenobi again.[10] In 2018,[11] a meeting was held to see how serious the actor was to play Kenobi in an Obi-Wan Kenobi film as part of a series of stand-alone movies outside of the Skywalker saga. Lucasfilm Ltd.'s then head of story Kiri Hart and the people at the meeting said they were aware that McGregor was happy to do it, and Hart asked if he meant it or was just being polite. They asked if McGregor was in or not and he said he was. Lucasfilm then actively began development on an Obi-Wan Kenobi film that would be directed by Stephen Daldry.[10][11] McGregor would be the producer, giving him more say over the story. He wanted Kenobi to start as a broken, faithless man and the film would show what gets him back together again.[11] At some point, McGregor did some testing for the film.[24]


Obi-Wan Kenobi character poster for Obi-Wan Kenobi

The film eventually became a television series directed by Deborah Chow[10] who McGregor was excited to work with.[24] McGregor was very involved throughout the whole development.[7] At some point, he did camera tests wearing Kenobi's costume on the set of The Mandalorian.[24] To prepare for portraying Kenobi again, McGregor watched all nine movies in the Skywalker saga, which was the first time he watched the prequels since they were originally released. He also started reading science fiction, including books by Iain M. Banks.[13] McGregor felt like getting dressed as Kenobi was a very special moment.[12] He had a very fun time playing Kenobi again,[10] and he enjoyed bridging the gap between his portrayal and that of Sir Alec Guinness.[21]

To relearn his Kenobi voice, McGregor listened to a sound file that has all of Guinness' lines from A New Hope.[25] McGregor also imagined how Guinness would say the lines before filming a scene. When the crew was happy with a scene, McGregor would do another take that was an over-the-top Guinness version.[26] McGregor wanted Kenobi to have an unkempt hairstyle and appearance to represent how Kenobi is faithless and somewhat given up.[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 did not want to do an impersonation.[25] He said he got more out of playing Kenobi in the show than he did in the prequel trilogy altogether because of the writing, people he worked with, the technology, and how different everything was.[21] Christensen said that the first time he saw Christensen as Kenobi was a very special moment that he'd remember for a very long time.[10] In a chemistry test between McGregor and Vivien Lyra Blair, the actress who played Leia Organa in the series, they recited the lines for one of their conversations on Daiyu.[7]


Ewan McGregor and his daughter Esther-Rose on the Daiyu set

McGregor enjoyed working with Deborah Chow and said that she had such quiet authority and fully understood the Star Wars world. McGregor also liked how Chow was able to merge the series with the things that were made on set in 1975 and what actors said in 2003.[27] On the first day of production, McGregor starting filming his scenes in the Sandwhale Farm set.[7] Moses Ingram, the actress who played the Third Sister, received fight training from McGregor whom she described as "a graceful little butterfly." He showed her encouragement as she fumbled through rookie mistakes. One day, McGregor was shooting a scene and he dropped his lightsaber in the crevice between the virtual LED set known as the Volume and where the stage ends.[10] The first scene shot with Christensen was when he played Anakin Skywalker in a vision seen by Kenobi. The scene was shot on location, and McGregor insisted on staying on the set to be part of Christensen's first shot back.[28]


Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen training with lightsabers for their training scene in "Part V"

McGregor said that Blair had all of the wit and cheek of Carrie Fisher's portrayal of Organa in the original trilogy. McGregor and Organa got to know each other better during shooting, which went hand in hand with Kenobi and Organa's relationship in the series. When McGregor rehearsed the duel on Mapuzo, Vader was not wearing the helmet. When the scene was filmed, Vader came from behind McGregor, giving him a jolt of fear.[7] McGregor also said that seeing stormtroopers made him feel like he was seven years old.[29] During long days of filming, McGregor asked movement coordinator Olga Sokolova for a good warm-up, so she had him do a technical contemporary warm-up. Sokolova was amazed by McGregor's physical abilities after seeing him smoothly go through advanced moves.[30] McGregor and Christensen trained with lightsabers for the flashback of Kenobi and Skywalker training[7] in the fifth episode.[31] They both had dots on their face for the de-aging technology. McGregor thought it was incredible to see Liam Neeson reprise his role as Qui-Gon Jinn[7] in the sixth episode.[32] McGregor said he'd be play Kenobi again if he got the opportunity.[21]

On August 23, 2019,[33] McGregor appeared on stage at the D23 convention and announced that he would be reprising his role as Kenobi in the Obi-Wan Kenobi television series on the Disney+ streaming service.[34] The series is set ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith.[35] The series was originally going to start streaming on May 25, 2022.[36] On March 21, 2022, McGregor announced that the premiere would be pushed back to May 27, 2022, and the first two episodes would premiere together.[37] He was interviewed for Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return, a documentary about the making of the series.[7]



Year Title Series Contribution(s)
1999 Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace Obi-Wan Kenobi
2002 Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones Obi-Wan Kenobi
2005 Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith Obi-Wan Kenobi
2015 Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens Voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi[38]
2019 "Yoda vs Count Dooku – Size Matters Not" Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi
2019 "Jedi vs. Sith - The Skywalker Saga" Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi
2019 Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker Voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi
2022 "Part I" Obi-Wan Kenobi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Executive Producer[35]
2022 "Part II" Obi-Wan Kenobi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Executive Producer[39]
2022 "Part III" Obi-Wan Kenobi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Executive Producer
2022 "Part IV" Obi-Wan Kenobi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Executive Producer
2022 "Part V" Obi-Wan Kenobi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Executive Producer
2022 "Part VI" Obi-Wan Kenobi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Executive Producer
2022 Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return Special Thanks to[7]


Year Title Contribution(s)
2017 The Phantom Menace Read-Along Storybook and CD Voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi
2017 Attack of the Clones Read-Along Storybook and CD Voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi
2017 Revenge of the Sith Read-Along Storybook and CD Voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi


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Notes and references[]

  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. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Star Wars Year By Year: A Visual History, Updated and Expanded Edition
  3. Star Wars Trivial Pursuit
  4. 4.0 4.1 James Hatfield. Ewan McGregor: Rising to the Stars. Berkley Boulevard, 1999. ISBN 0-425-16900-6. ""Lawson, who played the only other X-wing pilot besides Luke Skywalker to battle the Empire's dark forces and survive, was Ewan's uncle.""
  5. SWYTlogo Behind the Scenes of the Obi-Wan Kenobi Series! on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 YouTube Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen & Moses Ingram Answer 7 Star Wars Questions | Vanity Fair on the Vanity Fair YouTube channel (backup link)
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return
  8. Ewan McGregor Explains How Reaction to Star Wars Prequels Has Changed by Ana Dumaraog on Screen Rant (February 1, 2019) (archived from the original on February 1, 2019)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 Inside the 17-year journey to reunite Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen for Obi-Wan Kenobi by Dalton Ross on Entertainment Weekly (March 10, 2022) (archived from the original on March 10, 2022)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 Star Wars: The Rebellion Will Be Televised by Anthony Breznican on Vanity Fair (May 17, 2022) (archived from the original on May 17, 2022)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 SWYTlogo A Series of Firsts | Obi-Wan Kenobi | Disney+ on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Hayden Christensen binged Star Wars animated shows to prepare for Obi-Wan Kenobi by Dalton Ross on Entertainment Weekly (April 19, 2022) (archived from the original on April 19, 2022)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 YouTube Ewan McGregor on Obi-Wan Kenobi's Ever Changing Hair Styles | Entertainment Weekly on the Entertainment Weekly YouTube channel (backup link)
  15. Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
  16. Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
  17. RedditLogo I'm Ross Beadman. The actor who played the Jedi youngling in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith who spoke to and was killed by Anakin Skywalker! Ask me anything… on Reddit by RossBandeam (on November 18, 2020): "I was closest with Ewan McGregor as me and my mum spoke to him the most even if it was for 10 minutes. My mum pointed him out to me and I didn't recognise him at first until she said: Ross..it's Obi-Wan!". Then he said hello to us and we shared champagne with him. Definitely my biggest highlight!" (backup link)
  18. TwitterLogo James Arnold Taylor (@jatactor) on Twitter: "@t_betts94 yes, it was me originally but they replaced my version with Ewan. I guess if I'm gonna be replaced it should be him! 😀" (backup link)
  19. Dave Filoni Wants Ewan McGregor To Voice Obi Wan On Star Wars Rebels by Elaine Tveit on Dork Side of the Force (May 21, 2022) (archived from the original on May 22, 2016)
  20. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Twin Suns"
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Obi-Wan: Ewan McGregor Got More Out Of Disney Plus Return Than 'First Three Movies Put Together' by Mike Williams on IGN (April 27, 2022) (archived from the original on April 27, 2022)
  22. Obi-Wan Kenobi: McGregor Kept the Series a Secret Longer Than You Think by Samuel Gelman on Comic Book Resources (October 24, 2012) (archived from the original on January 7, 2020)
  23. Ewan McGregor Is Back on Top—Again by Mickey Rapkin on Men's Journal (October 24, 2019) (archived from the original on July 27, 2020)
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Ewan McGregor donned Obi-Wan Kenobi's costume on the set of The Mandalorian by Alyssa Mercante on GamesRadar+ (October 27, 2020) (archived from the original on October 27, 2020)
  25. 25.0 25.1 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)
  26. YouTube Star Wars Spin-Off OBI-WAN KENOBI: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Moses Ingram & Deborah Chow on the Kino Plus YouTube channel (backup link)
  27. How Obi-Wan Kenobi changes the meaning behind a classic Star Wars line by Dalton Ross on Entertainment Weekly (March 26, 2022) (archived from the original on April 26, 2022)
  28. Obi-Wan Kenobi's Hayden Christensen Talks Wearing The Anakin Costume Again And Ewan McGregor's 'Sweet' Gesture by Laura Hurley on CinemaBlend (June 15, 2022) (archived from the original on June 15, 2022)
  29. Ewan McGregor: "I turned around, and f**king Darth Vader was coming at me. It scared the s**t out of me" by Jack Shepherd on GamesRadar+ (April 25, 2022) (archived from the original on April 25, 2022)
  30. Instagram-Logo Olga Sokolova on Instagram: Olga Sokolova describes the "Jedi Tombs" scene (June 9, 2022): ""Jedi Tombs" scene from @obiwankenobi episode 4 was one of my favorite to work on, thanks to director Deborah Chow for trusting me this special piece✨ During long days of filming Ewan asked me to give him a good warmup and I thought technical contemporary warmup would be the best ✨ I was so amazed by Ewan's physical abilities after seeing him smoothly go through advanced technical moves, what a master" (backup link)
  31. Obi-Wan Kenobi new series logo Obi-Wan Kenobi — "Part V"
  32. Obi-Wan Kenobi new series logo Obi-Wan Kenobi — "Part VI"
  33. StarWars The Galaxy Far, Far Away Just Got A Little Bigger… on StarWars.com (backup link)
  34. StarWars D23 Expo 2019: 8 Things We Learned About Star Wars at the Disney+ Showcase on StarWars.com (backup link)
  35. 35.0 35.1 ILMlogo Obi-Wan Kenobi on Industrial Light & Magic's official website (backup link)
  36. SWYTlogo Obi-Wan Kenobi | Teaser Trailer | Disney+ on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  37. SWYTlogo Obi-Wan Kenobi | Announcement | Disney+ on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  38. TwitterLogo James Arnold Taylor (@jatactor) on Twitter: "@t_betts94 yes, it was me originally but they replaced my version with Ewan. I guess if I'm gonna be replaced it should be him! 😀" (backup link)
  39. Obi-Wan Kenobi new series logo Obi-Wan Kenobi — "Part II"

External links[]