Ask about seeing Hayden Christensen in the Darth Vader suit on Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi and Deborah Chow can’t answer. “Unfortunately I can’t talk about [that] at this point,” she said. “I wish I could, but, you know, we’d get into spoilers with that.” But Chow, the showrunner and director of the upcoming Star Wars show, can talk about other facets of the Dark Side. Like the decision to bring Christensen back in the first place, introducing Inquisitors into Star Wars live-action, and making sure all that and more fit into the larger canon.
io9 spoke with Chow over video chat last week to promote the highly anticipated show. We talked about some of Obi-Wan’s motivations on the Light Side of the Force (which you can read at this link), but also the Dark Side. Like, for example, why it was important to have Christensen reprise his role as Darth Vader when a large part of the portrayal is just a stunt person in the suit.
“We’re so connected to the prequels and obviously, because we have Ewan [McGregor] and so much of it is connected to Revenge of the Sith and the ending, it felt very natural and it felt right to bring back Hayden for this role,” Chow said. “So I think the biggest significance between these two, it’s the emotional relationship and all the issues that they have that are going on at this point.”
And they do have some issues. When last Obi-Wan Kenobi saw his former apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, he’d become the Sith Lord Darth Vader. Obi-Wan won an epic fight on Mustafar and left his friend for dead. Only, he didn’t die. Emperor Palpatine saved Vader and gave him a new suit — the one fans first saw back in 1977.
That means Obi-Wan Kenobi has its roots not just in the prequel trilogy, but also the original trilogy and the animated shows too. On Obi-Wan Kenobi, Vader sends a group of Jedi hunters called Inquisitors to find his former master. Inquisitors were introduced on Star Wars Rebels and now, for the first time, we’ll see Vader’s henchpeople in live-action.
“We’re trying to tell the story about a Jedi in hiding. They’re Jedi hunters. So it was kind of very natural to put those two things together,” Chow said. “And it’s also really exciting to get to bring, especially, some of Dave [Filoni]’s characters from Rebels into live action for the first time. And we were also very excited about some new characters like Reva [Moses Ingram] just because I think, given how much legacy we have in this show, it felt like we really needed to make sure that we also had some stuff that was new [and] unknown.”
Telling a story that has slivers and ramifications all across the Star Wars canon meant Chow had to be very careful and collaborative to make sure it all fit in. “One of the most challenging aspects of this show is that we are with these very iconic characters in between trilogies. There’s so much that we need to respect and make sure that we don’t break with the canon,” she said. “And there’s a tremendous amount of support. One of the co-production designers is Doug Chiang, who actually was a designer on the prequels. So it’s incredibly helpful to have him as sort of a guiding hand on design. And then also just the Lucasfilm resources of people like [Lucasfilm Story Group member] Pablo Hidalgo and all the people there to support. So, we were very much connected to make sure that we were respecting everything.”
And while Chow had lots of support and help to make sure Obi-Wan Kenobi was a carefully crafted part of the Star Wars canon, she also enjoyed the freedom to make the show her own, unique vision.
“It was really interesting to do this after The Mandalorian because it was very different,” Chow said. “Obviously, it comes with all the legacy and the responsibility, which is trickier than The Mandalorian. What I really loved, honestly, was getting the ability to do the whole thing and actually take it from beginning to end and really try to articulate a vision over a limited series.”
She loved at least one more thing a lot too. “It was kind of wonderful was to have an actor with a face,” Chow laughed. “Obviously The Mandalorian has its own challenges and [is] really interesting unto itself. But it was like, ‘Oh, my God, there’s eyes.’” And, in grand Star Wars fashion, Chow teases that we’ll get to see more eyes than just the ones we’re expecting. “I don’t think it would be Star Wars without some surprises and some cameos,” she said. “So there are definitely some to come.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi arrives Friday on Disney+.
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Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.