While The Mandalorian Season 2 is not far off, things have been a little slower to move on the other Star Wars series set for Disney+. Among them is the Obi-Wan show, set to bring Ewan McGregor back to the galaxy far, far away as the legendary Jedi knight, exploring his life several years after the end of the Prequel Trilogy, and prior to his pivotal role in Episode IV: A New Hope (as played by the legendary Alec Guinness).
This week, McGregor appears on the Empire Podcast to talk about his latest motorcycle adventure documentary series Long Way Up – following up 2004’s Long Way Round and 2007’s Long Way Down – which sees the actor and his friend Charley Boorman journey through Central America in a journey covering over 13,000 miles and 13 different countries. “After the second trip I moved to the States, and Charley ended up doing a lot more other TV shows and travel shows on his own,” says McGregor of the 13-year gap since the last series. “We’d never lost touch, but we weren’t as close as we had been. And then he had this terrible accident in Portugal. He was overtaking a car, and the car turned left while he was overtaking it, it clipped him and threw him off the bike into a wall. He was in a terrible mess. It was during that time where you feel like you might have lost something very special to you, and I just realised you mustn’t let these important relationships in your life drift.”
Beyond his new series, McGregor also spoke of his excitement about returning to the role of Obi-Wan in the near-future, in a series that he says is “a long time coming”. McGregor last played Obi-Wan in 2005’s Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith, and in the intervening years his desire to reprise the role has grown. “I’m more excited about doing this one than I was doing the second and third one that we did before,” he tells Empire. “I’m just excited about working with Deborah Chow [director, who also directed episodes of The Mandalorian], and the storylines are going to be really good I think. I’m just excited to play him again. It’s been long enough since I played him before.”
While the Prequel Trilogy wasn’t initially beloved by all, McGregor is aware of the increasing appreciation found for Episodes I to III in the Star Wars fan community. “You know, our films weren’t much liked when they came out, by my generation who loved the first ones,” he says. “I think people of our generation wanted to feel the way they’d felt when they saw those first three movies when they were kids, and George [Lucas] wanted to take our ones in a different direction, he had a different idea. It was tricky at the time, I remember. But now, all these years later, I’m really aware of what our films meant to the generation they were made for, the children of that time. They really like them. I’ve met people who, they mean a lot to them, those films, more so than the original three, and I’m like, ‘Are you kidding?’”
As well as getting the chance to work with Chow, McGregor spoke about looking forward to a very different kind of Star Wars production process – with the series expected to shoot on The Volume, the innovative high-resolution video wall technology used extensively in The Mandalorian. “The first three [Star Wars films] I did were really at the very beginning of digital photography,” the actor recalls. “We had a camera with an umbilical cord to a tent, it was like back to the beginning of movies where the camera didn’t move very much because there was so much hardware attached to it. Now we’re going to be able to really create stuff without swathes of green-screen and blue-screen, which becomes very tedious for the actor.”
To hear more, including McGregor’s thoughts on the possible return of fan-favourite character (to Empire’s Chris Hewitt, anyway) Elan Sleazebaggano, listen to the full interview on the Empire Podcast. The Obi-Wan series is expected to shoot in 2021, and Long Way Up begins streaming weekly on Apple TV+ from Friday 18 September, when the first three episodes will launch the series.