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SYFY WIRE obi-wan kenobi

Hayden Christensen watched animated 'Star Wars' shows to prep for Darth Vader return in 'Kenobi'

Christensen took his Star Wars return as Vader seriously ... very seriously.

By Josh Weiss
Anakin Skywalker

Hayden Christensen apparently took his return as Darth Vader in Lucasfilm's Obi-Wan Kenobi project very seriously. To get back into the mindset a character he hadn't played in close to 20 years, the actor watched all the live-action Star Wars films — prequels included — as well as the animated series like The Clone Wars (in which Anakin was voiced by Matt Lanter) and its direct follow-up, Rebels.

"It was interesting," he told Entertainment Weekly of the animated galactic adventures spearheaded by Dave Filoni. "They did a lot with these characters in those shows. And they did further explore the relationship. There was interesting stuff there to learn about. It was great fun getting to go back and re-immerse yourself in this world that just continues to grow and become more and more vast."

Ewan McGregor, who returns to play Old Ben Kenobi, did similar research by watching all nine entries in the Skywalker Saga. It was the first time he'd seen Episodes I-III since their original theatrical bows in 1999, 2002, and 2005, respectively. Also speaking with EW, he said "it was cool to see and interesting to watch them and enjoy them without all of the noise that was around when they came out."

McGregor's preparation also drove him into the loving embrace of science fiction genre as a whole. "Iain M. Banks is a Scottish writer, and I started reading his science-fiction novels," he explained. "I kind of didn't do it the first [time]. I did absolutely study Alec Guinness and watched the original three Star Wars films when we did the first one, but I didn't really think about the genre. And it's not something I would normally do, but this time I did. I got jazzed about being back in space because I really love it as a movie watcher."

Obi-Wan Kenobi, whose first two episodes land on Disney+ on May 27, picks up a full 10 years after Revenge of the Sith. Still ridden with guilt over his inability to save Anakin from the dark side of the Force, Kenobi lives out his days of quiet exile on Tatooine, watching over a young Luke Skywalker. Things get tricky when the Force-sensitive Inquisitors are dispatched by the Empire to hunt down the last-remaining Jedi still hiding throughout the galaxy.

"The Empire is in the ascendancy," series writer Joby Harold (Army of the Dead) teased to EW. "And all the horrors that come with the Empire are being made manifest throughout the galaxy. And the Jedi Order as we know them are being all but wiped out. So everything that was in the prequels has crumbled."

All of the Star Wars films are currently streaming on Disney+ with all seasons of The Clone Wars and Rebels. If you're looking to delve headfirst into the realm of sci-fi, too, then we also suggest checking out the deep bench of sci-fi films available on Peacock.