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SYFY WIRE obi-wan kenobi

Darth Vader's return in 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' invoked 'a lot of debate' at Lucasfilm

Hayden Christensen did come back, of course, which made Ewan McGregor feel like "chopped liver" that first day.

By Vanessa Armstrong
Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi

We’ve known for a while that Hayden Christensen was coming back to reprise his role as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in Disney+’s upcoming Ewan McGregor-led Star Wars show, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The idea of having Darth Vader return, however, wasn’t something that was a given when the limited series was in development. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said there was a lot of debate about the decision. “Everybody within our creative team has strong opinions, and all of our fans have strong opinions. So when you realize that you're under that level of scrutiny, certainly a story point like that is going to be scrutinized at a very high level,” she shared. “We talked about it constantly."

For Obi-Wan director Deborah Chow, however, the decision to bring him back made a lot of sense from a character perspective. “I really wanted to do something that was character-based and character-driven, because that is the benefit of the limited series, is that you have more time to sort of tell a real character story,” she said. “And so for me, the starting place of character is you just start and you look at who has been important to [Obi-Wan] in his life. And it's quite hard to avoid Anakin/Vader in that scenario, especially coming out of Revenge of the Sith.”

Chow obviously wasn’t the only one at Lucasfilm who thought that way, and Christensen soon found himself on set in full Vader gear, an event that the crew knew was a big moment. 

“It's really intense to have such an iconic character, and then to be directing him and to be doing new scenes with him,” Chow recalled. “I do remember poor Ewan on that day, he's like, ‘What am I, chopped liver by comparison right now?’”

Sorry Ewan, but yes, that day you probably were. 

While we’ve gotten a photo of Hayden in his Vader costume, we still don’t know much about what this version of Vader is like, 10 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith and before his appearance in A New Hope. While Chow didn’t go into specifics, she did shed some light on where Vader was from a character development perspective. “He isn't the New Hope Vader quite yet, you know what I mean? So we are with the character … in the middle of this period. It is still Vader obviously, but it's a Vader that isn't quite as fully formed as A New Hope.”

We can see Christensen’s not fully formed Vader when Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres May 25 on Disney+.