Character Profile: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Alec Guinness (Original Trilogy), Ewan McGregor (Prequel Trilogy), James Arnold Taylor (Clone Wars), Seth Green (Robot Chicken)
Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samurai) was originally eyed by George Lucas for the role. Joseph Fiennes was also in the running to portray the younger Obi-Wan in the Prequel Sage.
A human male from Stewjon, Obi-Wan Kenobi was born 57 years before the Battle of Yavin. A Force-sensitive individual, he was taken to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant to be trained as a Jedi at the age of three, an unusually late age since younglings were typically identified within six months of their birth. At some point before he was selected as a Padawan, Kenobi attended a class centered around meditation. When Kenobi was a youngling, he underwent training with Grand Master Yoda before being assigned as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn's Padawan learner.
Fans have an interesting relationship with Obi-Wan since they were first introduced to the character towards the end of his life. Despite his early exit in the first Star Wars, he quickly became a fan-favorite character. This led to high expectations when we learned that a younger version of the character would be cast in the prequel trilogy.
Ewan McGregor not only met these expectations, he greatly surpassed them. For a trilogy that has had mixed reception amongst fans, McGregor's portrayal of this character is widely considered to be one of the strongest aspects of the films.
When we are introduced to Obi-Wan in the prequel trilogy, he is still an apprentice in training under his master Qui-Gon Jinn. He is young and impatient in his quest to become a Jedi Master. Although he is a skilled fighter and nearing his test of the Jedi Council, he still has much to learn regarding the ways of the Force. This process is accelerated coming off of his victory over Darth Maul, which ultimately makes him the first Jedi to defeat a Sith for nearly a millennium. Coming off of the battle, Obi-Wan is awarded the rank of Jedi Master without having to face the Council's test. He also pushes Yoda to take on his own padawan in a young Anakin Skywalker.
Throughout the next two films, we see somewhat of a conflicted Obi-Wan. This is a character that is trying to balance his own personal growth of becoming a Jedi Knight, with his natural instinct to challenge orders he doesn't agree with, all while trying to set an example for his padawan to follow. This conflict peaks during Revenge of the Sith when Obi-Wan must come to grips with what Anakin has become. We see a character that must decide whether to stand up for the Jedi code, a mission that he's dedicated his whole life to, or destroy someone that has become a brother to him. All of these emotions reach a tipping point throughout the final battle.
Years later, we find a much older, more reserved version of Obi-Wan. He has taken on the role of an overseer, a watchful protector, over the young Luke Skywalker. As Luke progresses in his quest, Obi-Wan ultimately becomes the doorway for Luke and the audience into the galaxy of Star Wars. It's through this character that we are opened up to the history of the force, the Clone Wars, and the ultimate threat to the galaxy in Darth Vader.
Rumble in the Plasma Refinery Complex: Obi-Wan and Darth Maul quickly established a great rivalry despite their limited screen time together. Not only did this result in arguably the greatest lightsaber battle of the franchise, but it also spawned a continuation of this rivalry in two of the franchise's animated series - Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.
Lightsaber Battles: Obi-Wan vs Darth Maul. Obi-Wan vs General Grievous. Obi-Wan vs Darth Vader. Obi-Wan is highly regarded as one of the most skilled fighters in the galaxy, so it's not a shock that some of the most iconic battles in the franchise involve this character. We also see his skill set with the lightsaber and his overall approach in battle adapt over time along with the character.
There are seven core fighting styles that are leveraged by Jedi. The two primary styles that Obi-Wan wielded are called Ataru (Form IV) and Soresu (Form III). Ataru incorporates a wild, acrobatic fighting style. Kenobi leveraged this style early on in his life and you can see this on display during his battle with Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. As he started to age, Kenobi adopted the Soresu style, which is primarily focused on defensive moves. Kenobi relies heavily on this style in his battle against Anakin on the planet Mustafar.
Anakin vs Obi-Wan on Mustafar. Although Obi-Wan's fight against Darth Maul is widely considered the best Lightsaber fight of the entire franchise, this battle is a close second. This fight takes the crown as Obi-Wan's best moment because of all of the extra weight that comes from his apprentice being at the other end of the lightsaber. Leveraging a defensive fighting style allowed Obi-Wan to control the pace and direction of the battle, ultimately giving him the higher ground...
There are so many great quotes that come out of Obi-Wan's final battle with Anakin, but we had to give some love for Alec Guinness in this category. We will give an honorable mention to "These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For." for its cultural relevance, but the winner of this category ultimately comes from the character's final moments. This quote could easily go down as one of the best exit lines by any character in a movie.
"How now brown cow" - Ewan McGregor worked closely with a voice acting coach to adjust his accent while preparing for The Phantom Menace. This was to ensure that he would closely resemble a young Alec Guinness.
"And the award goes to..." - This one isn't completely unknown, but it's worth calling out that Alec Guinness received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor from his work on the first Star Wars film.
"No, I am your Uncle". - Denis Lawson, who famously played Wedge Antilles during the Original Trilogy, is Ewan McGregor's uncle.
“So it is [Spoken], So it Shall be Done:” - Obi-Wan's home planet Stewjon was named after Comedian John Stewart. Lucas revealed the name as part of a joke while he was being interviewed by Stewart during the 2010 Celebration V convention in Orlando, Florida. Joke or not, Lucas' words have weight. This name is now considered to be canon in the Star Wars universe.
“Goodbye, Old Friend. May The Force Be With You.” - Obi-Wan