Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Kumail Nanjiani Explains the Toughest Part of Making the Show

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Kumail Nanjiani Explains the Toughest Part of Making the Show
Kumail Nanjiani at Marvel's Eternals premiere on October 18 in Hollywood. (Photo: Rich Fury, Getty Images)

Comedian-turned-buff Marvel superhero Kumail Najiani’s next film is Eternals, which finally debuts on November 4. But the actor has already finished shooting his mysterious role in Obi-Wan Kenobi, the upcoming Star Wars TV series starring Ewan MacGregor about the Jedi Knight’s time watching over Luke on Tatooine. And Nanjiani’s explained a major difficulty of being a Star Wars actor that I’d never thought of before.

When USA Today asked him what it was like to make Obi-Wan, Nanjiani replied thusly:

“It was absolutely amazing. When you’re on set, you have to put out of your head that you’re in Star Wars, which is very hard to do because it really looks like you’re in Star Wars. I’m dressed like I’m in Star Wars. The guy who I’m talking to looks a lot like Obi-Wan Kenobi. It was my first job outside of quarantine: I got vaccinated, went right to set, and honestly had the best three months.”

I’ve never thought about it before, but this makes total sense. If you grow up watching and loving and breathing Star Wars as a kid, and then you end up cast in a Star Wars project, it must be incredibly tough to lose yourself in your role. Imagine being 3.05 m away from Darth Vader — who will be played in Obi-Wan Kenobi by Hayden Christiansen, reprising his prequel role — and having to pretend Darth Vader is a real person and not the iconic villain from Star Wars. Then magnify that by Stormtroopers, vehicles, outfits, aliens, all of it. Star Wars has such an immense stronghold on pop culture that it would require an amount of relief that… well, that only really good actors can generate.

We don’t know Nanjiani’s role yet, so there’s no reason to suspect he actually has a scene with Vader. But of all the new actors — Indira Varma (Game of Thrones), Sung Kang (Fast and Furious), Maya Erskine (PEN15), Moses Ingram (The Queen’s Gambit), Rupert Friend (Homeland), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton), Simone Kessell (Terra Nova), and Benny Safdie (Good Time) — one of them surely has a scene with Vader. Why not Nanjiani? (Actually, we may have a candidate already.) Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse will also reprise their roles as Owen and Beru Lars from the prequels; if Mark Hamill could be coaxed into doing another motion-capture to make a creepy CG version of himself as a child, it’ll be a Lars family reunion!

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s only release date is sometime next year.