Ewan McGregor: It was great to play Obi-Wan again

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Ewan McGregor: Playing Obi-Wan was too much to imagine

Scottish actor Ewan McGregor first played the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars more than 20 years ago and now he is back as the Jedi master for a new Disney+ series.

"I could not have imagined it would be so satisfying to play him again," McGregor told BBC Scotland's The Edit.

"It was really great, I think partly because of the new technology."

Image source, Lucasfilm
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Ewan McGregor is playing Obi-wan Kenobi again after almost 20 years

McGregor first took on the role in the prequels which started with Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in 1999, playing a younger version of the character made famous by English actor Alec Guinness two decades earlier.

The Crieff-born actor said that the green screen technology of his earlier films had been overtaken by more modern methods.

He says: "In episode 2 (Attack of the Clones), I go off on my own for a while and I have all these scenes with aliens with long necks and I was just acting with a tennis ball on a stick for weeks and weeks.

"It is pretty hard work to do that and make it feel realistic."

Image source, Lucasfilm
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The Crieff-born actor reprises the role he first took in the early 2000s

The new Star Wars spin-off series, which begins 10 years after the events of the film Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith, was made with the latest visual effects technology.

StageCraft, which was initially developed for the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, uses a massive video wall to create a realistic background for the actor to play against.

McGregor says: "It is really amazing. It made it a different experience and it was great fun."

Image source, Lucasfilm
Image caption,
Ewan McGregor plays the Jedi master first portrayed by Alec Guinness

The Scottish actor's links to Star Wars go back even further than the films of the early 2000s.

When he was just six, he remembers his mum and dad taking him from their Perthshire home to the "big city" to watch his uncle in the original film.

Denis Lawson, his mother's brother, played X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles in all three films of the original Star Wars trilogy.

McGregor says: "We went to see my uncle in a film, which was as exciting as anything had ever been before, but then it was also Star Wars so it just kind of blew our minds apart.

"Those films became so important to us and to then have a chance to go into them as an actor myself and to play the younger Alec Guinness, it is all too much to imagine really."

Guinness had been in his late 60s when he began to play the role of Obi-Wan, a mentor to Luke Skywalker.

Hollywood stardom

In the prequel trilogy, McGregor was about 30 but now, at the age of 51, the actor is again trying to recreate the Alec Guinness role.

"I have got just make him sound like Alec Guinness," he says.

"I have to hear Alec Guinness in my head and he wasn't very Scottish."

McGregor credits his uncle Denis with making him want to be an actor and believing it could be done.

"He was an actor, he came from Crieff and made it work.," McGregor says.

"He'd already done the difficult bit. I sort of followed in his footsteps."

He also thinks having an actor in the family meant his mum and dad were more supportive and did not tell him not to be silly when he said he wanted to leave school early to go on a theatre arts course at Kirkcaldy Tech in Fife.

He says it was an experience which changed his life. It led to him going to drama school in London and a 30-year acting career that has taken him to Hollywood stardom.

"I have got a lot to be thankful for in terms of my mum and dad, that's for sure," he says.