Ewan McGregor vividly remembers the Star Wars universe merging into critical disaster.
While the Scotsman had already starred in acclaimed films when Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999) went into production, McGregor’s role as Obi-Wan Kenobi raised his profile overnight. However, the critical backlash ultimately proved to be just as impressive.
“I loved being this character for a lot of people, but when these movies came out, they were so unlikable,” McGregor told Variety in an interview published on Wednesday. “That’s difficult. The first one has been moved, and we still have two more to make!”
He continued, “It feels strange to be in a film that flops.”
George Lucas built an empire from Star Wars (1977) and its sequels, which introduced an entire generation to lightsabers, handsome rogues, and the idea of good vs. evil. evil that is easy to digest. The fandom of course didn’t stop being active after that, but made a strong comeback in 1998.
Although the Threat teaser attached to Meet Joe Black at the time generated great enthusiasm, the $115 million film itself was criticized for its childish humor, narrative shortcomings, and excessive use of CGI. It maintains a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 52% to this day.
McGregor has signed on for two more sequels, which were slightly better received. The actor clearly survived the backlash and went on to have an impressive career, one that arguably began years before Menace under the direction of Danny Boyle.McGregor recently reprized his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Disney+ series.
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Boyle had cast McGregor in Shallow Grave (1994) and Trainspotting (1996), but cast Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead in his 2000 follow-up, The Beach. McGregor felt slighted by this, as he was far more invested in the role than in any Star Wars.
“For me, it’s not a done deal yet,” he told Variety about his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi. “I don’t think that’s the real me at all. I believe, at that moment, I was the actor Danny Boyle. The beach is more important and I mean it, not flippantly. I did ask a lot of people for advice.”
The actor ultimately returned to the role in 2022 for the Disney+ miniseries, which not only generated great enthusiasm from fans — but also a positive Rotten Tomatoes score. Whether McGregor will return to the show remains to be seen, although he certainly wouldn’t mind.
He told Variety, “I would love to do a second season, but there hasn’t been any talk about that.”