‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’: Inside the Rip-Roaring Fan Screening at Star Wars Celebration

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[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi.] 

The first day of Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center concluded Thursday evening with thunderous applause and excitement as fans gathered for the world premiere of the Disney+ series, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Announced earlier that day at the Lucasfilm Studio Showcase, lucky fans were treated to a special surprise screening of the first two episodes of the show, along with the cast and crew.

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“This is also our screening,” director Deborah Chow said to the crowd, whooping along with the whistles and applause of the arena. “To everybody who worked on this show, and to everybody who supported people who worked on this show, thank you.”

The room was busting with excitement, as audience members donning Jedi robes and Mandalorian armor waited on the edge of their seats for the screening to begin. Those strong enough with the Force (or just lucky) to score a wristband for entry were literally dancing in the aisles before the lights went down. Upon star Ewan McGregor and Chow’s appearance onstage, the room erupted into cheers, as attendees simply could not contain their excitement over the prospect of experiencing the show alongside their icons.

“And we would all like to thank you, the fans, the best fans of any fans in the world,” McGregor gushed onstage. “It’s been a long time coming to this moment, and we’re about to show it to you. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”

“May the Force be with you, always” the Obi-Wan actor added.

Obi-Wan sees the return of McGregor and Hayden Christensen (who plays Anakin Skywalker turned Darth Vader) to the Star Wars galaxy, coming off a 17-year hiatus from the characters. While portraying master and padawan onscreen throughout the prequels, the pair developed a bond of their own off-camera — one that they’re happy to rekindle so many years later.

“Over the years, we just haven’t seen each other that much,” McGregor told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, prior to the screening. “I guess more recently, we sort of lost touch. And so this has brought us back together again, which is really nice.”

The series kicks off ten years after the events of Episode Three, in which Order 66 saw the Jedi Order decimated and the rise of Darth Vader. In Obi-Wan, the former Jedi master faces off against Vader’s ruthless Inquisitors, who are determined to weed out all Jedi from the galaxy. But just as Skywalker is no longer who he once was, Kenobi has also changed — “I’m not the man you remember,” he says in the first episode.

“For me, that was one of the most interesting things about the project is that we were telling a story with the same characters, but they’re at a very different point in their lives,” Chow told THR. “It was a really interesting thing to explore and develop is, you know, where are they at this point?” Chow, who directs all six episodes, helms the series after having previously directed two episodes of The Mandalorian.

But heading into such an undertaking doesn’t come without “a little bit of pressure.” Chow added, “It’s obviously one of the more challenging aspects of this project is the legacy aspect and the fact that we’re in the middle of the canon, but I think coming here to Celebration — which is my first experience of it — with the show, finally, it was so heartening to feel the energy from the fans. This is why we did it.”

Moses Ingram also joins the fray as Reva, an Inquisitor determined to do whatever it takes to hunt down Kenobi. “It was really fun because the thing about being a villain is that she doesn’t believe she’s bad,” Ingram said. “She just believes she’s doing her job. And I think that that’s what drives her.”

The series comes after years of speculation amongst fans over the potential of an Obi-Wan spinoff. “It was going to be a movie at one point, [then] became a TV show,” McGregor said of the show’s development. “And then Deborah Chow came on as our director, and she’s absolutely brilliant. We were lucky to have her tell all this through her voice, through all of the six episodes. So it felt like one big, long movie to me.”

Christensen added, “You know, obviously, my time on the prequels was spent with Anakin and at the end of Episode Three, I got to get my feet wet a little bit with Darth Vader. But now, getting to come back and really sort of throw myself at the Darth Vader character has just sort of made my journey with this character feel that much more complete. And I’d love to do more with it.”

Throughout the screening, the first two episodes were met with constant cheers and applause from the excited crowd. The appearance of Jimmy Smits reprising his role as Senator Bail Organa received a round of hoots and hollers, while a momentary cameo from Star Wars: The Clone Wars was met with gasps from the crowd — “That was crazy,” said a fan in the audience.

Following the debut, the cast and crew — including McGregor, Chow, Christensen and Smits — received a standing ovation from the packed arena. Scene-stealing actress Vivien Lyra Blair, who plays young Princess Leia Organa in the series, also rushed onto stage, embracing her castmates.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is streaming now on Disney+.

Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen attend the studio showcase panel at Star Wars Celebration for “Obi-Wan Kenobi” in Anaheim, California on May 26, 2022. - Credit: Jesse Grant/Getty Image
Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen attend the studio showcase panel at Star Wars Celebration for “Obi-Wan Kenobi” in Anaheim, California on May 26, 2022. - Credit: Jesse Grant/Getty Image

Jesse Grant/Getty Image

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