Obi-Wan Kenobi director Deborah Chow wants fans to know this isn’t about the Skywalker saga. The original Star Wars trilogy, prequels, and sequels have centered the Skywalker family and their story. Of course, the legendary Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) plays a large role in the Skywalker story, but Chow says this series in particular is Kenobi’s own saga.
“It very much is his own journey,” Chow tells Nerdist. “I think that’s something that we felt very strongly about. We really wanted it to be a character driven journey so it really begins and ends and it really is historic.”
The new Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi begins 10 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan is hiding out on Tatooine and watching over a young Luke Skywalker from a distance. The Empire is still searching for the Jedi master. The organization sends an Inquisitor (Moses Ingram) to hunt Obi-Wan down. Hayden Christensen returns to the role as Darth Vader with the promise of an epic battle between the Sith Lord and his former Jedi master.
A week before the premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Chow spoke with Nerdist on the importance of Christensen, Obi-Wan and Anakin’s love story dynamic, and Padmé’s part in this,
Nerdist: I know that you fought hard for Darth Vader to appear in the series. But, Darth Vader is covered up like how the Mandalorian is covered up. So Pedro Pascal didn’t need to be in the costume. What made it important to have Hayden Christensen physically be in this role?
Deborah Chow: Obviously, we’re so connected to the prequels. We’re bringing back Ewan and looking back at the character, Anakin plays such a big role in Obi-Wan’s life. So much of the weight that we’re coming in with the series is coming out of what happened in Revenge of the Sith. It felt very natural to have Hayden be part of this. I think for us, so much of what we’re exploring is the emotional relationship between the two of them. To have that emotion, it obviously connects very strongly to Hayden.
You’ve mentioned a love story between Anakin and Obi-Wan, you know, which caused chaos in the fandom world. Can you elaborate on this love story between the two?
It’s interesting because his last words at the end of Revenge of the Sith are, ‘You’re my brother and I love you’. There was this obviously incredibly strong brotherly love and this bond between them that had been established in the prequels. At that moment, [Obi-Wan] thinks he’s leaving [Anakin] for dead, and then we’re picking up coming out of that relationship. So, it’s an intense emotional relationship that happened between the two of them. And part of what we’re exploring is that weight coming in and that loss and feeling that he had put him down. So that’s something we really wanted to explore through the character of Kenobi.
The lens definitely for us has always been Obi-Wan. So I’m looking at this from Obi-Wan’s perspective. So when we’re looking at the idea of brotherly love from Kenobi’s perspective, that’s how he felt. [We] know Vader’s side, it’s a little different, but this very much is Kenobi’s story.
We all know and loved Padmé from the prequels and her death was the result of Anakin’s descent into the dark side. I know Obi-Wan feels guilt about what happened to Anakin, which resulted in Padmé’s passing. Will there be any mention of Padmé—especially surrounding Obi-Wan’s guilt?
You know, it was interesting when we were developing the series, at some point, screenwriter Joby [Harold] and I were just going through everything and all the weight on Obi-Wan coming out of the prequels. It’s a pretty long list. You got Order 66, the Jedi Order falling, Padmé’s [death], and Anakin. So [there are] quite a lot of things contributing to it. So for us, Anakin was obviously the biggest part of that, but Padmé is part of that too. So all of that guilt for us was part of the starting place for Obi-Wan.
I understand how important it was for you to have this as a limited series—six episodes to really flesh out one story. Is there any more story to tell afterwards? Would you want to tell more of the story?
For this one, because it was a limited [series], we really did conceive it as one big story with a beginning, middle, and end. We’re definitely not ending on a cliffhanger. We meant this as one story. But, at the same time, who knows in the future? There is obviously another 10 years ahead of him [before] A New Hope. But, this one really was conceived to be one story.
There’s so much world building in this, not only the places we visit, but the people. Star Wars really wanted to expand on their universe, and not just the characters we know. How much leeway did you get for creating new characters?
It really just came out of the story. Apart from the boundaries that we have set with the canon and trilogies and trying to respect George [Lucas’] work, there were no limitations on [the new stuff]. We try to always take it from a story point of view and have it be organic. I think it can get tricky when you start thinking I’m bringing in this or I’m doing that because you want it to be justified. So the biggest thing we tried to do is just look at what the story needs to be and does this have a place for it or not as a result.
Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres on Disney+ on May 27.