‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Writer on Writing for Ewan McGregor, What’s Happening Inside Vader’s Mind, and More

In a new interview with IndieWire, Obi-Wan Kenobi head writer Joby Harold covered a lot of ground as far as his approach to the new series is concerned. He tried to provide some insight into their creative decisions on the show, like including 10-year-old Leia as a big part of the narrative, and into the characters’ minds, like what is going through Darth Vader’s head. In this article, we have included some of the highlights of the interview, but make sure to head over to IndieWire to read the piece in full.


Harold was asked in what ways he tried to keep Obi-Wan Kenobi as fresh as possible, given it features characters we already know and action scenes, like lightsaber duels, that already are familiar to the audience. Harold’s key is someone named Deborah Chow:


“That’s very much trusting in Deborah Chow and everything that she brought to the show. It’s easy to try to find character through action on the page, but then you hand that off and have faith in the team and it’s such an extraordinary team. You then get to see the fruits of their labor and sit back and go ‘Okay, yeah.’ That’s the part, as a fanboy, that I wanted to see.”


An example of keeping familiar things fresh to the audience came in Part IV, when Obi-Wan rescued Leia by killing the lights in the room and striking the stormtroopers while they were confounded. According to the writer, that was written in the script, but it was Deborah Chow’s execution that really brought the moment to life:


“That’s on the page. That’s me writing ‘in the dark,’ because I feel like I haven’t seen it, in that iteration that I hadn’t seen it. It’s a pretty important moment, so it should have its own visual splendor. But again, Deborah takes that and runs with it and covers it the way she covers it. One part of a bigger machine.”



He then explained that when writing Obi-Wan Kenobi, he always tries to include as many detailed descriptions of the action sequences as he can:


“You sort of plant the flag in the ground and say, ‘Here’s what can happen, here’s ways in which character could be articulated,’ so it’s not just action for action’s sake. Then the actors find it with Deb, and then it changes on the day through the blocking, and then you choreograph the whole thing, and they rehearse for a very long time, as you know, to get it right. So I would say it’s phase one, the writing part.”


Part IV saw Obi-Wan starting to put himself back together, and more tuned into the Force than he’s been for the last 10 years. Harold confirmed that this was indeed another big step in his upward progression of getting back into the game:


“It’s a six-chapter story. We’re getting to the point now where he’s starting to need to find that part of himself again, where he hasn’t had to explore it for so long. Hopefully character is pushing that decision and those choices in an interesting way, because of the pieces on the board and because of Leia. Getting to see it and slow it down so each part of that is important and each bit of it feels like a moment — each time he has to use the Force, each time he has to stand tall, each time he holds the lightsaber — hopefully it’s reinforcing character and his journey from the man we met at the beginning of the show, in his cave, to man that he will one day become.”


Obi-Wan Kenobi 1x03


One of Harold’s biggest priorities while writing the show was to give Ewan a lot of room to shine, as he explained:


“For me personally, [one of the biggest priorities] was getting to really give Ewan the opportunities to sit in this character again and get under the skin of the character so that the audience could really enjoy his performance. He’s such a gifted actor, and it’s such an iconic role and he’d done so much with it — but I felt like there was still room for him to do so much more. So it was very much [a consideration] as I was writing: “Where can we give him character moments to sit with him?” There’s a fantastic moment in the fourth episode which is all Deborah Chow, which is her finding that moment where he and Leia hold hands. It’s such a lovely moment, and it’s so sweet, and it’s easy for me to just write that — but to feel the soul of it is again, that’s the extent of this creative team and how great they are.”


Harold was then asked about the decision of bringing Leia into Obi-Wan Kenobi. The writer explained that, in his mind, she was the only reason why Obi-Wan would leave Tatooine. That also gave them a huge chance to remind everyone, including Obi-Wan himself, that Leia is as important to the story of Star Wars as Luke is. He said:


“Leia was always a part of the conversation, I believe right from the beginning. What would be important enough to have Obi-Wan leave Luke? I couldn’t think of anything beyond her. I think that conversation had begun a long time ago, and rightly so because she and Luke have equal importance within the bigger conversation. Why not bring that conversation right up front into this show and challenge Obi-Wan with that reality? She’s important. She’s as important, so that makes it quite dramatic and interesting as a call to action.”


Another key character in Obi-Wan Kenobi, and one that certainly has initiated a lot of conversations, is Moses Ingram’s Reva. Harold explained that this was a character that already existed when he boarded the series and that he always liked it because it gave them the chance to write something new:


“Reva’s a character that had existed when I came onto the project, and she seemed so interesting because she was offering something different and a new perspective. Again, I worked with Deborah a lot on that and finding who she could be in part of Obi-Wan’s journey, where she could push him. What kind of an antagonist to push into places where he wouldn’t otherwise go? Deb had strong instincts there, so I just tried to help facilitate that character as she developed into what Moses did with her, which I think is quite extraordinary.”


Reva and Leia in Obi-Wan Kenobi


The writer’s ultimate hope for the series is that it felt like it had some patience to it, that it didn’t feel rushed, as he said:


“It going too quickly, and being too sort of whiz-bang-pew-pew-pew right from the beginning. Hopefully in the final reading [it] will feel like it has a patience to it, which is consistent with the journey that Obi-Wan is going on spiritually from beginning to end, in between prequels and the original trilogy. That was my hope, to make sure that happened.”


He was also asked about the trend that we’re seeing in the Disney Plus Star Wars series like The Mandalorian or The Bad Batch, and now Obi-Wan Kenobi, of having the main character (or group of characters) in charge of a little kid. Harold said the following about it:


“You can look at Obi-Wan and Luke and you can look at Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and you can look at two-handers always. It’s always so interesting, and conceptually fascinating because you’re putting two forces together and that’s where the fun happens. That’s where the fun begins. The notion of exploring that here with two legacy characters, which has a different potency, was a part of things when I came on that always seemed very compelling to me.”


Young Leia in Obi-Wan Kenobi


Harold then addressed the two scenes we’ve seen so far of Obi-Wan reaching out to Qui-Gon, paying off his exchange with Yoda in Revenge of the Sith. According to Harold, the intention behind that was to show how much he’s isolated from the world at the beginning of Obi-Wan Kenobi:


“In the beginning of the show, I just wanted to be able to see him reaching out. I just felt like if he was reaching out into the ether in those moments, it would help punctuate how alone he felt. That was really the priority, just to feel Obi-Wan’s isolation.”


Changing characters’ headspaces, IndieWire then asked the writer about Darth Vader’s inner thoughts. Is there anything left from Anakin or is he Darth Vader in full form by now? He said:


“That’s a good question that I’m not going to answer. The degree of what’s going on under the helmet I leave rightfully to the viewer. That’s part of the mystery of that character is that you can’t see, so you lean into what you bring to it. But certainly at this stage of the timeline to me, nobody was the finished article. The people that we meet in A New Hope feel like they’ve come to fruition a little bit more. But at this stage, it still felt like there was some story to tell with these characters.”


And staying with the theme of characters’ headspaces, Harold then addressed the character of Tala, who is perhaps one of the most interesting people we’ve met in the series so far. He said the following:


“Tala is hopefully an opportunity for a great actor to take the ball and run with it. What Indira did was so interesting because she really tried to find the root of the backstory of that character, and… finding what compelled her was really important. She’s such a terrific actor, and hopefully what she contributes is not only to the wider galaxy, but is very specific to Obi-Wan’s story and where he needs to go spiritually and physically in order to become the man he needs to become. He needs a little help along the way. Finding the right actor to bring that to life is the key part of the puzzle — as it was with Leia. And it is with Ewan — as it is with everybody in the cast, there is a variety of really talented people.”


Indira Varma as Captain Tala in Obi-Wan Kenobi


Zooming out now and studying the series as a whole, Harold also addressed the fact that there have been multiple instances in the series where fans have claimed the writers may have broken canon continuity. He didn’t mention any of them specifically, but stabbing the Grand Inquisitor at the end of Part II certainly comes to mind. This is something he already addressed in a recent interview, and he gave a similar answer here, trying to calm everyone down and saying there’s a plan in place:


“There is a plan for all of that. It’s such a big creative team making these shows that everyone’s very, very aware of canon and the fan base and the importance of making sure everything lines up, so it’s definitely something that was on the front of our minds always.”


There has been a lot of speculation and a few rumors over the past couple of months about a possible second season of the show. However, Joby Harold won’t address any of that:


“I can’t really speak to that, so unfortunately I won’t beyond saying it’s been a real thrill to work with this character, this universe, for this experience. It has been opportunity of a lifetime, and I’ve cherished it.”


This was initially started by Kathleen Kennedy herself, who told Entertainment Weekly in the big article they published in March that they haven’t ruled out the possibility of another season. Obi-Wan Kenobi was always thought of as a limited event, but multiple people have gone on record saying they would like to come back, including Ewan McGregor himself, so there is hope out there.


Part V will drop on Disney Plus next Wednesday. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the Resistance Broadcast’s live discussion on Part IV here, and read our written review here.


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Miguel Fernández is a Spanish student that has movies as his second passion in life. His favorite movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings, but he is also a huge Star Wars fan. However, fantasy movies are not his only cup of tea, as movies from Scorsese, Fincher, Kubrick or Hitchcock have been an obsession for him since he started to understand the language of filmmaking. He is that guy who will watch a black and white movie, just because it is in black and white.

Miguel Fernandez

Miguel Fernández is a Spanish student that has movies as his second passion in life. His favorite movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings, but he is also a huge Star Wars fan. However, fantasy movies are not his only cup of tea, as movies from Scorsese, Fincher, Kubrick or Hitchcock have been an obsession for him since he started to understand the language of filmmaking. He is that guy who will watch a black and white movie, just because it is in black and white.