Obi-Wan Kenobi has wrapped up on Disney+, bringing back Ewan McGregor as the titular character, telling the story of how he was forced off Tatooine between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and, pitting him against his former Padawan learner Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. The series as a whole proved to be extremely popular amongst fans, breaking viewership records on the streaming platform.
However, despite its success, a portion of the Star Wars fanbase has expressed that the show would have been a better story as a standalone film. And originally, that was exactly Lucasfilm's plan.
Stephen Daldry and Hossein Amini were brought on to direct and write the film, respectively, before the project shifted into an episodic format with the launch of Disney+ in 2019. Joby Harold was subsequently brought on to take over as head writer, paving the way for the version director Deborah Chow eventually brought to Disney+.
Now, the project's very first writer has opened up about how his plan for Obi-Wan Kenobi's story didn't just comprise of one theatrical feature, but three.
Obi-Wan Kenobi's Planned Trilogy
In an exclusive interview with The Direct's Nathan Johnson, Obi-Wan Kenobi writer Stuart Beattie talked about his role in making the Ewan McGregor-starring project and how it was originally imagined as "a full trilogy." Beattie was credited as a writer for Episodes 1, 2, 3, and the season finale of the series.
Beattie revealed that he only wrote the screenplay for the original feature film that the show was based on and never collaborated with the series' writers, while also mentioning Solo's box office performance as the reason for the Kenobi movie never getting made:
"Right, so not at all, none. I wrote the film that they based the show on. So, yeah. I spent like a year, year-and-a-half working on it. And then, when the decision was made not to make any more spin-off films after Solo came out, I left the project and went on to other things. Joby came on and took my scripts and turned it from two hours into six. So, I did not work with them at all, I just got credit for the episodes because it was all my stuff."
Beattie also revealed that his original story pitch to Lucasfilm in 2016 involved convincing them of "three stories" for Obi-Wan Kenobi, the first of which ended up becoming the series' first season (and featured the death of Reva) and the second that looked ahead to the Jedi Master's lead-up to A New Hope:
"So when I pitched my Obi-Wan story to Lucasfilm, I said, 'There's actually three stories here. Because there's three different evolutions that the character has to make in order to go from Obi-Wan to Ben.' And the first one was the first movie, which was the show, which was, 'Surrender to the will of the Force. Transport your will, surrender your will. Leave the kid alone.' So then, the second [movie] was thinking about where Kenobi ends up. And one of the most powerful and probably the most powerful moment in all of Obi-Wan's story is that moment where he sacrifices himself in A New Hope. Great moment, you know, makes you cry. But, if you stop and think about it, it's a pretty sudden thing, to just kind of go be fighting a guy, to see Luke and go, 'I'm gonna die.' You know, that to me, that required forethought. That required pre-acceptance that this was going to happen."
The writer continued to elaborate on what he envisaged for a second story of Obi-Wan Kenobi, describing how it would deal with Ewan McGregor's character coming "to terms with his own mortality" to dovetail into Obi-Wan's sacrifice in his climactic Death Star battle against Darth Vader:
"So again, it's one of those universal things we all struggle with, to come to terms with our own mortality. So, that was the second step of the evolution for me, that Obi-Wan now has to come to terms with his own mortality, somehow in a prophecy, or Qui-Gon telling him, 'There's going to come a moment where you're gonna have to sacrifice yourself for the good,' And then [Obi-Wan] is like, 'What? No, no, no, no, I'm here to help... I can't, no.' And get him to that point where Obi Wan has accepted the idea that he's going to die, and that he's going to die willingly at a crucial moment, and you will know when that moment presents itself. So that when that moment comes up in [A New Hope], you understand. He's recognizing he's been on this journey already, and he's waiting for this moment, and that's how he's able to make it so easily. To do this [sacrifice], and die. So that to me was the second evolution, the second film, the second story. So for me, if I have anything to do with the second season of Obi Wan, that's the character evolution that I would take him on. That, to me, is really interesting. And like I said, universal."
When asked if the three stories that he had planned meant that the plan was to make three movies, Beattie confirmed that it was originally "a full trilogy."
The writer also revealed that both Lucasfilm and McGregor were on board with the idea:
"Oh absolutely. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, Ewan was on board, everyone. We were like, 'Yeah, ready to go.' And we were so excited about it, too... It's a great story to tell, right? It's such a fitting character and Ewan is just so fantastic at it. And he's the perfect age, everything.
Beattie was "devastated" when he found out the project was no longer going ahead as a movie:
"It just was dying to be done. You know, unfortunately, it's just, it was Solo that changed the direction of the system. I like Solo, personally, but it hadn't made a lot of money. It is crazy in some ways to think about it how it [was directed by] of the best filmmakers working today. But, just because it didn't hit a certain number, they just had to rethink. And, again, way above my paygrade, but it certainly crushed us. Devastated, absolutely devastated. But, that's the business, you know, highs and lows. I'm glad it got made. I'm glad the show got made. I'm proud of my story that [got] told. I'm glad my characters are all through it. And I'm glad I got credit for it. I wish, I wish they'd been able to make my movies."
Beattie was also asked if he had actually been able to submit a treatment for the second or third move to Lucasfilm, but he said that he hadn't due to how busy he had been "working on the first one:"
"No, just the first. Because they hadn't hired me to do the others yet, 'cause I was busy working on the first one."
All episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are available to stream on Disney+.