Few film roles have captured the world’s imagination quite like Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise. So star-making was the role that decades later, upon news of Disney Plus’s prequel miniseries Obi-Wan Kenobi, fans were rightfully nervous about who could emulate Fisher for their turn in the white snowsuit.
The role eventually went to child actress Vivien Lyra Blair, with Ewan McGregor reprising his role as the titular legendary Jedi Master. While Obi-Wan Kenobi went on to become a hit among both fans and critics upon its release last year, the behind-the-scenes process of filling Fisher’s shoes was far less seamless, at least according to the show’s executive producer and director, Deborah Chow.
Sitting down with The Hollywood Reporter, Chow shed light on exactly how Blair came to embody a young Leia in Kenobi, saying the casting call went out twice due to COVID-19. Adamant on having Leia appear young, Chow was forced to repeat the casting process after a pandemic pause, since “kids grow so fast.”
Interestingly, the director made efforts to conceal the nature of the role to those who auditioned, using “fake names” to ensure that the kids didn’t “know we were casting for Star Wars.” The method allowed Chow and her team to find a candidate who “naturally embodied” the role, rather than someone who played it up for the cameras.
The casting call was sent all over the world, with a specific focus on anyone who could embody both Leia and Fisher. “[It] wasn’t easy,” Chow said. “You couldn’t come up with two more specific and individually amazing women.” Blair was thankfully the perfect choice, and with a list of credits that already included blockbuster Bird Box, it’s clear to see how she landed the part.
Elsewhere in the interview, Chow spoke on the potential of a new season of Kenobi, despite it only being intended as a standalone miniseries. The director said that she’s in a “never say never situation” in regards to a new installment, and revealed that McGregor was pitching her ideas for season two before the cameras were even packed up after production on season one wrapped.