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It's been nearly 15 years since Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and the last time we saw Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi. In that time, McGregor has fielded countless questions about his time in the Star Wars universe, including whether or not he'd ever consider reprising his role for a new spinoff movie. After Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced the cinematic expansion of the Star Wars universe with spinoff films like Rogue One and Solo, those questions only got more intense, and somewhere along the way McGregor had to start hiding something. It turns out he was already talking with Lucasfilm about playing Obi-Wan again, but he couldn't tell anybody.
"It got difficult. I was brought up to tell the truth, and I was in a situation where I wasn't really allowed to," McGregor said on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tuesday night while promoting his new film Doctor Sleep.
McGregor finally revealed his return as Obi-Wan, after years of speculation, at Disney's D23 Expo over the summer, when Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy announced the character will star in his own spinoff miniseries on the upcoming Disney+ streaming service. McGregor was on hand for that event and confirmed he was onboard for the series to a massive ovation. For Star Wars fans, it was the end of years of wishing and waiting. For McGregor, it was the end of years of pretending he knew nothing, as he explained to Kimmel.
"Once they started doing spinoffs, of course everyone was like 'Are you gonna do an Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff?' And I was talking to Lucasfilm and Disney about that, but of course I couldn't say that I was," he explained. "So I'd have to go 'Well, you know...I'd be...if they wanted to do one, I'd be quite interested in doing it.' And it started to look a bit like I was just trying to get the part."
McGregor described the process as a "quite humiliating" cycle of having to look like a contender for a part he'd already played and knew he might play again, even as rumors swirled that Obi-Wan might be played by another actor.
"It started to hurt my pride, because I thought 'People actually think they're considering someone else,'" he said.
The wave of speculation over Obi-Wan's future in the Disney era of Star Wars stretches back at least five years, when reports started to circulate that Kenobi was one of the characters in line for a potential spinoff in what Disney was then calling the Star Wars Anthology series of films. By 2017, those reports started to look a little more concrete, with news that director Stephen Daldry was apparently developing the film. Still, McGregor had to remain in a state of public denial. As recently as last summer, while he was promoting Disney's Christopher Robin, McGregor denied any Obi-Wan movie was on the way, but expressed an interest in returning if it ever did happen.
We still don't know exactly how long McGregor had to play down his involvement in Obi-Wan's future, but we do know now that it wasn't always going to be a future on the small screen. McGregor confirmed earlier this week that the original talks for Obi-Wan's return were focused on a movie, not a streaming. Now that the character's officially coming to Disney+, though, he's pleased that he gets more hours to tell a new story.
Disney+ launches November 12 with, among many other offerings, the first live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian. The still-untitled Obi-Wan Kenobi series does not yet have a release date, and McGregor confirmed to Kimmel that he's got one other thing to shoot before he turns his attention to that production.