On Tuesday, Vanity Fair published a sprawling, eye-opening piece about the state of the Star Wars franchise. The good news: They have plenty of TV spin-offs en route. The less good news: It’s not clear when, if ever, there will be another Star Wars movie. (And when/if there is, they won’t star new actors playing already established characters.) The films, mind you, have been divisive at least since the still hotly debated Return of the Jedi. And while some now stick up for the once derided prequels, even one of those fans, co-star Ewan McGregor, admits (in a bit teased out by IndieWire) that the reviews did initially get to him.
The actor, who reprises his role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the forthcoming Disney+ show of the same name, recently gushed about those three films, which have long been sources of scorn but were also beloved by many kids at the time, who are now adults. But after The Phantom Menace, which made a mint but received so-so reviews (to put it mildly), he wasn’t sure.
“It was hard because it was such a huge decision to do them, such a big event,” he said about the initial reviews. “It was quite difficult for all of us to deal with that, also knowing you’ve got a couple more to do.”
Reviews actually weren’t that bad. Right now, its score on Rotten Tomatoes is a so-so 51%, but that’s a mix of contemporaneous reviews and more recent ones. But many gave it a pass; Roger Ebert was genuinely enthusiastic awarding it 3 ½ stars. It actually took at least till the much more poorly reviewed Attack of the Clones for its reputation to start sagging. By the time he’d finished Revenge of the Sith (whose reviews were the best of the bunch but still well below those of the original trilogy), McGregor says he was happy to put the franchise behind him.
But return he did, some 15 years later (in what was initially to be a movie), although only because he was interested in seeing an older, sadder Obi-Wan. “I just said, ‘I think that it should be a story about a broken man, a man who’s lost his faith,’ ” he told VF. “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.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi starts streaming on Disney+ on May 27.