Odds are if you’re reading this you’ve encountered the “I have the high ground” meme pulled from the iconic—and infamous—scene from the final installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. For whatever reason, the moment when Obi-Wan tells Anakin that he has the high ground resonates as both a goofy MacGuffin to end the fight, as well as a way of denoting a relatively small advantage carrying outweighed significance. So when Revenge of the Sith Stunt Coordinator Nick Gillard says that the choreography for the moment was inspired by something as minor as Hayden Christensen’s distaste for slopes, that actually makes a lot of sense.
Stunt Coordinator Nick Gillard’s interview with IGN.
It may sound like the kind of reasoning that fake BTS stunt people would offer for the Robot Chicken spoof version of the famous scene, but Gillard did indeed say in an interview from IGN’s Star Wars: Breaking Down the Duels series (above) that when he was thinking about orchestrating the climactic duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin in Episode III, he had in mind the fact that Christensen, who plays Anakin, “hates walking on a slope.” Gallard even cracks up as he describes the real-life moments that inspired the scene, which possibly helps to shed light on the reason why so many people intuitively think of it as oddly comedic.
The moment Obi-Wan gains the high ground in Episode III. Lucasfilm Ltd.
In the interview, Gillard says that he and Christensen lived next to each other in Australia, and would eat together every night at a restaurant up a hill. Apparently there were two ways to make it to the restaurant, the more direct of which required traversing steeply banked land. While Gillard would take the more direct, steeply banked, route, he says that Christensen would avoid it because of the aforementioned distaste for slopes. Gillard says that this fact “was in [his] mind” while thinking about Anakin and Obi-Wan’s duel, and thought that if he could he could get Anakin on a slope then “Obi might have a chance.”
Stunt coordinator Nick Gillard watches as Hayden Christensen(Anakin) and Ewan Mcgregor(Obi-Wan) practice a portion of their climactic Lightsaber duel on Mustafar during production of #StarWars #RevengeOfTheSith. -B- pic.twitter.com/jWJmtmPmGa
— The Star Wars Underworld (@TheSWU) November 4, 2018
Considering the fact that Gillard et al. had to choreograph a 12-minute-long duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan, which took place across a kilometer of distance, it makes sense that the impetus for the moment came from some random, real-life idiosyncrasy—a lot of ups and downs (literal and metaphorical) had to happen in that especially lengthy fight, and there are only so many times two characters can force push or ‘saber parry before it becomes redundant. Having said that, one still has to wonder how the scene would’ve turned out had Gillard and Christensen found an eatery located on flatland, where Anakin may have been able to… turn the tables on old Ben.
What do you think about this origin story for the supremely memeable “I have the high ground” moment from Revenge of the Sith? Will this forever change the way you think about Obi-Wan and Anakin’s epic duel, or do prefer to keep your fictional and BTS worlds entirely separate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Feature image: Lucasfilm Ltd.