Ewan McGregor Explains How Reactions To The Star Wars Prequels Have Changed

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Many fine actors came unstuck in the Star Wars prequels. The majority are objectively talented performers like Natalie Portman and Samuel L. Jackson, who simply came unstuck when faced with the terrible dialogue. That same factor also made certain actors that much worse, with Hayden Christensen’s Anakin at the bottom of the barrel.

In fact, there’s only a handful of people in the expansive cast who came out looking good, and they’re Liam Neeson, Ian McDiarmid and, best of all, Ewan McGregor. Widely considered to have had the best luck delivering the leaden dialogue, McGregor provided an emotional anchor for the films, doing his damnedest to make us believe in the growing rift between him and Anakin.

Now, with The Phantom Menace reaching its 20th anniversary this year, the actor’s looked back at the film as part of Vanity Fair’s “25 Most Influential Movie Scenes of the Past 25 Years” list. The scene in question is Anakin’s climactic battle against Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith, which they describe as so:

“The scene arrived at the end of so much disappointment, a creative nadir that, even more disappointingly, inspired imitators instead of scaring them off. All of Lucas’s aggressive blue/green-screen technique became frustratingly de rigueur for big-budget spectaculars, even though that cold C.G.I. gleam was something that turned many people off from the franchise.”

And here’s McGregor on his memories of shooting it:

Episode III was all green screen: they had us on green disks on a green floor with a green background, and a guy on the floor rotating us like chickens, as we lunged at each other with lightsabers. What keeps you emotionally grounded is the other actor. Episode II, I was on my own, speaking to thin air. But this scene was harrowing for Obi-Wan. I lose Anakin, and we see the danger of what it might lead to in Episodes IV, V, and VI.

For all my moaning about green screen, I did enjoy playing Obi-Wan and this link to Alec Guinness. 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.”

Fondness for the prequels is something we’re seeing more and more of as the years pass. I’m probably never going to be an outright fan of them (and I’m certainly not in a hurry to rewatch them), but I can at least recognize that there are some elements of these particular Star Wars movies that are actually pretty good. Plus, McGregor clearly has a strong connection to the character, so if the long rumored Obi-Wan solo film ever gets off the ground, I dearly hope that they ask him to reprise the role.