Ewan McGregor is looking back at his career and what lies ahead in a new in-depth cover story for The Hollywood Reporter.
Though the Scottish actor is about to reprise his role as the iconic “Star Wars” Jedi in the new “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series for Disney+, his journey to a galaxy far, far away hasn’t been a smooth one. Making his debut as Obi-Wan in 1999’s “The Phantom Menace”, McGregor acknowledges it “was hard they didn’t get well received” at the time of release.
“That was quite difficult. They were universally not very much liked,” the actor recalls, sharing his feeling about George Lucas’s insistence on heavy CGI scenes created using green screens by the time the third movie rolled around because “he wanted more and more control over what we see in the background.”
“After three or four months of that, it just gets really tedious — especially when the scenes are … I don’t want to be rude, but it’s not Shakespeare,” McGregor continues. “There’s not something to dig into in the dialogue that can satisfy you when there’s no environment there. It was quite hard to do.”
With the prequel movies behind him, McGregor is looking forward to picking up the character in the new series, which is set 10 years after “Revenge Of The Sith”. The series will be directed by Canadian Deborah Chow, who also directed two episodes of “The Mandalorian”. Both original trilogy stars Hayden Christensen (Darth Vader) and Joel Edgerton (Uncle Owen) will return for the series.
“I’m really excited about it. Maybe more so than the first ones, because I’m older — I just turned 50 — and I’m just in a much better place,” he says.
It’s a role that McGregor had been in talks to reprise for years but had to keep tight-lipped. Obi-Wan’s journey was originally planned for the big screen but the disappointment of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” scrapped it. It wasn’t until 2019 that McGregor was able to talk about it.
“I’d see stuff on social media like, ‘They better cast Ewan as Obi-Wan,’ and I wasn’t able to say anything,” he explains to THR. “But it was pretty humiliating to think that [Disney] might be thinking about casting someone else.”
Production on “Obi-Wan Kenobi” has yet to begin, though McGregor has been in lightsaber training and has done several screentests with Chow, whom he says “is a really, really good director.”
But before fans will get to see the Scottish star back in his Jedi robes, he’ll next take on the titular role in Ryan Murphy’s “Halston” series for Netflix, premiering May 14.
“It’s about a man, a creative person, who believes absolutely in what they are and who they are,” he says of the American fashion designer and confidant of Liza Minnelli. Halston died of AIDS-related cancer in 1990. While McGregor has played a number of queer roles throughout his career, he says he understands Billy Porter’s 2019 comments that blind casting when it comes to sexual orientation only goes one way: “Straight men playing gay — everyone wants to give them an award.”
McGregor’s response to Porter is, “I hear the discussion and I respect both sides of it, I really do. I haven’t walked in Billy Porter’s shoes. I don’t know what it’s like to lose out parts when you might feel it’s to do with your sexuality. So I can only respect his point of view.”
But the actor adds, “If it had been a story about Halston’s sexuality more, then maybe it’s right that gay actors should play that role. But in this case — and I don’t want to sound like I’m worming out of this, because it’s something I did think a lot about — I suppose ultimately I felt like it was just one part of who he was.”
With “Halston” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” on the horizon, McGregor is looking back at his acting career with pride.
“I would say, I managed to have the career I started out wanting in the first place,” he says. “I’ve been involved in some big, silly stuff; but also lots of important stuff; and some little, silly stuff; and big, important stuff. I’ve been very lucky.”
The full interview with McGregor appears in The Hollywood Reporter‘s April 28 issue.