Darth Vader “was such an iconic character ever since I was a little kid, so getting to play this role was really just the opportunity of a lifetime,” reveals Hayden Christensen about returning to the “Star Wars” fold as the legendary character. For our recent webchat he adds, “I don’t know that I could ever fully get my head around how big it was, just because it didn’t really serve my purposes as an actor, and trying to figure out how to play this character,” he explains, “to come back all these years later and do some more with him has just been a phenomenal experience.”
In “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Christensen reprises his role as the iconic Darth Vader alongside Emmy winner Ewan McGregor, returning as the titular Jedi master from the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy. Set 10 years after “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” (2005), in which the Jedi were destroyed by Order 66 and Kenobi’s apprentice Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, it follows Kenobi as he sets out to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia from the evil Empire, leading to a climactic confrontation and reckoning with the dark lord. The series co-stars Emmy nominee Rupert Friend as the Grand Inquisitor, fellow Galactic Inquisitors Moses Ingram and Sung Kang, Oscar and Emmy nominee Kumail Nanjiani as con-artist Haja Estree, Indira Varma as Imperial officer Tala Durith, Vivien Lyra Blair and Grant Feely as a young Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Kawlan Roken, Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse reprising their roles as Owen and Beru Lars, Emmy winner Jimmy Smits returning as Bail Organa, Ian McDiarmid back as Vader’s master Emperor Palpatine, and special guest cameos from Oscar nominee Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn and Anthony Daniels as C3PO.
The six-episode limited series culminates in a spectacular finale, in which Kenobi confronts Vader alone on a nearby planet after regaining his full connection to the Force, leading to a lightsaber duel that ends with a tearful Anakin realizing that his apprentice has completely embraced his new identity as Darth Vader. Looking back at his time on set, revisiting this iconic character and getting ready to shoot the climactic battle scene, Christensen says that it caused quite a stir amongst the crew, all of whom wanted to be present to witness sparks fly between the light and the dark side of the Force.
“We all knew it was a big one going into it. When I got on to set, it felt different,” he recalls. “I got there and Ewan was there on his own, getting ready, waiting for myself. So, I got there and we just started talking about the scene a little bit and I turned around and the entire crew had gathered, and lots of people from the production offices had come down and we had an audience! Then we got into it and the very first take, it just worked. We knew we were in a good place, so we started to play with it a little bit and try some different things,” he says. “What really surprised me was what Ewan brought to it. I think it’s his performance that really makes that seem so heartbreaking, because you feel it in his performance. I was caught off guard by that as well, you know. It was a very powerful experience and a professional highlight for me getting to do that with Ewan.”