LucasFilm Promises Not to Ruin Star Wars Characters Anymore

After the unloved and unwanted ”Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the franchise inheritors claim they’ve learned their lesson

After years of producing several sad, fractured-mirror versions of some of the most beloved characters in pop culture, the folks who run the Star Wars factory are vowing to stop disappointing longtime fans already.

“There should be moments along the way when you learn things,” LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy tells Vanity Fair. “Now it does seem so abundantly clear that we can’t do that.”

Kennedy was speaking specifically about 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, in which Alden Ehrenreich took on Harrison Ford’s role as an earlier version of the Corellian smuggler, earning less money than any other live-action movie in that universe, but there are plenty of disappointments in the franchise.

Kennedy can’t be blamed for George Lucas’ decision to give us a feature-length introduction to Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader as a nine-year-old prop in 1999’s The Phantom Menace or unleashing a whining, smirking Boba Fett, age 10, in 2002’s Attack of the Clones. But she did allow Rian Johnson to turn Luke Skywalker into some kind of old-timey haunted mine prospector in 2017’s The Last Jedi, although still played by Mark Hamill. And some people would also like to know how Boba Fett aged so many decades and gained so many pounds in the five years between the time of Return of the Jedi and The Book of Boba Fett.

The VF article, however, focuses on a trio of upcoming Star Wars television spinoffs, including Disney+’s Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi—which even the most ancient and curmudgeonly geeks await with cautious optimism, and which premiers next week—so never mind the other two.

One of the very few characters to return in a new body to overwhelming fan enthusiasm was Ewan McGregor as a young but already world-weary Obi-Wan in the 1999-2005 prequel trilogy, but even McGregor’s much-lauded performance in the role made iconic by Alec Guinness could not save 1999’s Episode I: The Phantom Menace from one of the earliest and longest-running pile-ons in internet history.

“It was hard because it was such a huge decision to do them, such a big event,” McGregor tells VF. “It was quite difficult for all of us to deal with that, also knowing you’ve got a couple more to do.”

In fact, McGregor says it took the healing power of time before he could consider coming back for the series, which will supposedly be limited to six episodes.

In 2017, he was asked to take part in a marathon screening of every Star Wars movie at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre.

“They asked me if I would want to introduce one,” he said, “and I’ve never done anything like that, but suddenly, it just struck me that I really did want to.”

With a new appreciation for the films, McGregor began saying yes whenever someone inevitably asked if would, theoretically, consider a return as Obi-Wan one day. About a year after the El Capitan event, Lucasfilm’s then-head of story, Kiri Hart, popped the question in earnest.

“She just said, ‘We just wanted to know if it’s true. You’ve said you’d do it again. We want to know if you mean it,’” McGregor recalls. “And I said, ‘Yeah, I do mean it. I would be happy to do it again.’”

And what can we expect from strange, old wizard “Ben” Kenobi in the new series, which takes place nine years before the events of the 1977 original?

“I just said, ‘I think that it should be a story about a broken man, a man who’s lost his faith,’” McGregor tells the magazine. “He always has a funny line to say or always seems to be calm and is a good warrior or soldier or whatever, but to see that man come apart, and see what gets him back together again—that’s where we started.”

Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi premiers on May 27.

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.