Soon, Star Wars will come back into the spotlight when Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi hits Disney+, bringing the grizzled ex-Jedi Master into prominence. Along with McGregor and an A-list cast on-screen, the series boasts some of the top filmmakers and experts from the industry working on the story, possibly none bigger than original composer John Williams.
On his almost unrivaled resume, Williams has credits in all nine movies from the Skywalker Saga, delivering some of the most iconic musical themes in film history. Although he retired from the franchise in 2018, his upcoming efforts on Obi-Wan Kenobi will surely make this new outing on Disney+ a must-see thanks to his history in the galaxy far, far away.
Thus far, Lucasfilm’s Disney+ outings have been in great hands musically thanks to Academy Award winner Ludwig Goransson's work on both seasons of The Mandalorian and this year's The Book of Boba Fett.
Now, Star Wars fans can build up even more excitement for Obi-Wan's composer, who already made her mark on another iconic franchise only one year ago.
Loki Composer Joins Star Wars Legacy
Vanity Fair announced that Natalie Holt will serve as the composer for Lucasfilm's Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+. Holt is now the first female composer on any Star Wars project in history, and she will have support on the score from original Star Wars composer John Williams.
In an exclusive interview with the outlet, Holt shared how "exciting and overwhelming" the experience has been while praising Williams for his work. She spoke about her intention to respect the franchise's history and "do it justice" as she adds her score to the legacy:
“Obviously, I’m just thrilled to be mentioned in the same breath as John Williams. It’s been exciting and overwhelming at times, because I’m such a fan. I want to pay respect to the history of it, and do it justice as well.”
Holt revealed that Williams actually wrote a new theme for Obi-Wan in this series, largely because he didn't get to do one originally due to Obi-Wan dying in 1977's Episode IV: A New Hope. She teased that his newest work "embodies the spirit of the show" in a big way as the two composers joined forces:
"Obi-Wan is a legacy character that John hadn’t written a theme for because he died quite early on in 'A New Hope.' It’s the only legacy character that he hadn’t done. So he spoke to [Lucasfilm president] Kathleen Kennedy and said, 'I just want to write Benny a theme.' So who can deny him that? And he did, he wrote the Obi theme, and it just embodies the spirit of the show entirely."
When asked how his contributions fit in with her work, Holt described Williams' music as "the tentpoles" to the series, under which she added her own work throughout. She also called Williams her hero, even while having the opportunity to bring her own musical style to the Star Wars saga:
"For me, the tentpoles are set out by John Williams. There are elements to the show that are new and fresh, and I’ve been able to have my own interpretation with elements—that I can’t reveal. So it’s been glorious, working with my hero and also bringing my own voice to the show."
Holt looked at Williams' new work on the show as "reflective" and "entirely appropriate" for where Obi-Wan is on his journey. There's "an element of hope" that ties back to the character's legacy through the years, and she's looking forward to seeing how fans react to the music:
"It’s reflective, and it’s just entirely appropriate. And it distills what the show is about in just the perfect way that John Williams can. It’s wistful, but there’s an element of hope to it. It’s doing something new and I think people are going to be really blown away by it."
The instrumentation in this score includes "250 horns and flutes" along with a "hunting horn" that Holt utilized throughout the show's music. While the themes are rooted in the franchise's past, she teased "a few new elements" on the way due to the blend of orchestral themes and modern musical technology:
"I think it’s an emotional score, and it does have its roots in the Star Wars tradition a little more than The Mandalorian does. We had a collection of 250 horns and flutes, and I used this hunting horn in the score. We’re also blending the orchestra with some more modern synths sounds as well. It’s definitely what we’re used to and a few new elements."
Holt shared that she completely finished writing the score for the final episode, only now feeling like she's "found [her] voice" through the process. It also comes with a feeling of sadness to see everything come to an end:
"I got to the end of the last episode. I’ve only just finished, and I just feel like I found my voice. It’s taken a while to get there, because you feel this paralysis at the beginning of like, 'Oh my god—it’s Star Wars!' I feel sad to be stopping, I want to carry on."
Obi-Wan Kenobi comes as her second Disney effort after her work with Marvel Studios on Tom Hiddleston's Loki Season 1 in 2021.
John Williams & Natalie Holt Join Forces
Even with John Williams largely coming back into the fray to write a theme for Ewan McGregor's legacy hero, this series is in excellent hands with Natalie Holt, who already has DC's Batgirl on her plate as well. Last year, Holt made her mark on pop culture with her work on Loki, tackling one of Marvel Studios' most iconic characters as he took on his first solo project on Disney+.
The Direct had the opportunity to speak with Holt after this series, where she shared her immense passion for Star Wars. She revealed that John Williams was her inspiration to become a composer in the first place, admitting that the soundtracks from E.T. and Star Wars helped push her through her childhood.
Now, Holt will add her own excellence to Star Wars' growing presence on Disney+ as she writes and scores the music for McGregor's first appearance as Obi-Wan in 17 years.
Each new Disney+ project from Lucasfilm has had its own flair musically, bringing new memorable themes that tie back beautifully with the music from the Skywalker Saga. Now, after delivering the goods with characters like Marvel's God of Mischief and the franchise's first take on Kang the Conqueror, Holt will be well-prepared to take on another fan-favorite hero.
Obi-Wan Kenobi will premiere on Disney+ on Friday, May 27. Check out more of The Direct's interview with Obi-Wan composer Natalie Holt on The Direct Podcast.