Filming Obi-Wan for Disney Plus was terrifying for Ewan McGregor - and for good reason

A screenshot of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Jedi's Disney Plus TV show
(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

Fear leads to anger, according to Jedi Master Yoda. But for Ewan McGregor, the titular star of Disney Plus’s new Star Wars show Obi-Wan, coming face to face with an old foe also led to a need for some fresh underwear.

Speaking to our friends at Total Film, McGregor described the moment he went toe-to-toe with the ultimate Star Wars baddie, Darth Vader, for Obi-Wan, summer’s big streaming event.

"It scared the shit out of me," he says. "I’m not joking. It gave me a proper jolt of absolute fear. I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s not acting. That’s real. I’m really, truly frightened right now.’”

For a veteran of three Star Wars films, ones which saw Darth Vader’s (nee Anakin Skywalker’s) fall to the dark side, it may come as some surprise that McGregor would have had such a strong response to the character’s appearance. But with the prequel trilogy depicting Skywalker’s tragic demise, McGregor never actually got to “meet” Vader in the flesh during his original tenure as Ben Kenobi – instead, all his scenes were shared with Anakin Skywalker, as played by the returning Hayden Christensen.

"I’ve never met Darth Vader," says McGregor in the new issue of the magazine

"I had rehearsed the scene with Vader, but not with the helmet on or anything like that. When we came to do the scene, when they shouted 'action', he had to come from behind me. I turned around, and fucking Darth Vader was coming at me. It was like I was six again. I’d never acted into Vader’s helmet. I’d never looked him in the eye.”

It was a similarly visceral response when the star met with his first Stormtrooper battalion.

“I’d worked with Clone troopers before, but so many of them were CGI. I never worked with Stormtroopers, and, again, I was like seven years old again. Because when you’re actually faced with a Stormtrooper, with a blaster, it’s like: ‘Fucking hell.’” 

A force-powered fan

The return of Obi-Wan, hitting Disney Plus on Friday, May 27 (landing with two premiere episodes, then followed by the series’ subsequent episodes each Wednesday), has been warmly welcomed by Star Wars fans. And that’s not always a given, with Star Wars fans among the most vocal and critical in all of fandom, particularly since the series rebooted return under the Disney banner.

But the much-memed McGregor holds a soft spot in many Star Wars fans’ hearts. Regarded as one of the better elements of the much-maligned prequel trilogy, it’s well documented that McGregor is a genuine fan of the films. He’s admitted to “getting carried away” during the filming of Episode I: The Phantom Menace, to the point where Star Wars creator George Lucas had to ask the actor to stop making lightsaber sounds whilst filming his fight scenes. Like many Star Wars fans, the films have been a part of his life as a cinemagoer since childhood.

"It’s like actual childhood memories of being scared,” he tells Total Film. “That’s how deeply it’s in us. I’ve acted for 30 years, and I’ve never been genuinely frightened when I’m acting frightened.

“But I had moments on this that were genuinely quite scary. It’s so funny.” 

If the return of Darth Vader hit McGregor that hard, it sounds like fans are in for a treat. Here’s hoping he kept the high ground.

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.