Obi-Wan on Old Ben: Ewan McGregor on Alec Guinness

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Obi-Wan Kenobi

In a recent radio interview, Ewan McGregor, the star of Disney Plus’ upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series, talked about his study of Alec Guinness….

Firstly, when McGregor took over the role Alec Guinness made famous in Star Wars (1977) — “Old Ben” Kenobi (later revealed by Luke Skywalker as General Obi-Wan Kenobi) — he watched footage of the late actor as a younger man before donning the robes in The Phantom Menace.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars, Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Image: Lucasfilm.

Now in a Q and A, and as he prepares the Disney+ version of “Obi-Wan,” McGregor explained his method to Elvis Mitchell of KCRW.com.

McGregor on Guinness

“I’m shooting the Star Wars series at the moment, and whenever we shot the first one, I had to be playing Alec Guinness as a young man,” said McGregor, rumored finished with principal photography on the series. “So, I was watching a lot of Alec Guinness movies and found some amazing pieces of work.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars, Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Image: Lucasfilm.

“He was really one of Britain’s finest and most prolific actors,” continued Ewan, “and now I was lucky enough to be playing the young version of him. So I’ve been doing that again lately, and partly the way of doing that is not trying to do an impersonation of his voice, but just trying to do my version.

“You know, what Alec Guinness might have been like, as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, as opposed to the one that we know when he was an older man,” he said.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars, Alec Guinness
Image: Lucasfilm

Alec Remains a Touchstone for Ewan

Now, in 2021, McGregor still uses Guinness as a touchstone.

“I need to touch base with him every week or so just to make sure I’m not getting too far,” explained Ewan. “But I would say, by the time you’re on set, shooting, you’re not really thinking too much about it.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars, Ewan McGregor
Image: Lucasfilm

“You shouldn’t be trying to remember your lines,” added McGregor. “You should be saying your lines because you know them.”

And in the end, Ewan McGregor has played Obi-Wan a whole lot more than Alec Guinness.

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Image: StarWars.com

McGregor spoke to The Treatment while promoting his current role of Halston for Netflix. Read that full Q and A here. There is also an audio link to the interview.

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