The two most recent entries in the Star Wars franchise have come in for heavy criticism from fans, but for entirely different reasons. Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi was vilified online for taking too many liberties with the established mythology and trying to take the series in a different direction, while The Rise of Skywalker faced the wrath of certain sections of the fanbase for relying too heavily on nostalgia and callbacks to the original trilogy in an effort to try and right the supposed wrongs created by the eighth installment.
Star Wars came roaring back to the forefront of the public consciousness with The Force Awakens, but ever since then it seems as though trouble has been brewing at Lucasfilm. As the driving force behind the brand, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy is getting most of the blame for the disappointing sequels, constant reports of behind-the-scenes turmoil, the high amount of filmmaker turnover and even the delays that have hit the Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
It seems as though the long-running sci-fi franchise is in the midst of a minor creative crisis, then, and the Lucasfilm braintrust will need to take a step back and reassess their approach to Star Wars in the wake of fan backlash the likes of which they haven’t experienced since the days of Jar-Jar Binks.
The franchise needs to look forward though, not back, and it can’t be a coincidence that The Mandalorian, which is only tangentially connected to the main saga, has been a critical success. And with Ewan McGregor set to reprise his role as Obi-Wan on Disney Plus, many fans were hoping that the show would try and rope in Liam Neeson for a cameo as Phantom Menace mentor Qui-Gon Jinn. But in a recent interview, the actor admitted that he has no interest in returning to Star Wars in the future, saying:
“I admire the actors and I know some of the actors who do it, and do it fantastically. It’s just not my genre, it really isn’t. The first Star Wars I was in, that was 22 years ago, and I enjoyed that, because it was novel and that was new. I was acting to tennis balls, which were ultimately going to be fuzzy, furry creatures and stuff. That was interesting, acting-wise, to try and make that seem real, but that was the last. It’s quite exhausting.”
Of course, Neeson did make a brief return to Star Wars via a voice cameo in The Rise of Skywalker, but from his comments it seems that his days starring in big budget franchises are numbered. He did enjoy a late-career renaissance as an unlikely action hero following the success of Taken, but at 67 years old, you can understand why he doesn’t want to spend his time standing around on green-screens anymore.