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Ewan McGregor Gets Real About The Difficulties Of Playing Obi-Wan Kenobi

Getting a major role in a "Star Wars" trilogy has always been a glowing, double-edged sword. Sure, your name becomes synonymous with one of the biggest and most beloved franchises in film history. But with a few notable exceptions — Natalie Portman, Harrison Ford, the very small man running around in the BB-8 ball to make it move — it also winds up becoming the defining work of an actor's career, hanging around their neck like an elegant space albatross from a more civilized age.

More than that, "Star Wars" has become a favorite target for fan disappointment since 1999's "The Phantom Menace." This wasn't lost on Ewan McGregor, the once and future Obi-Wan Kenobi, as he made his way through the prequel trilogy. It "was hard they didn't get well received," the performer told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. "That was quite difficult. They were universally not very much liked."

But critics weren't the only hurdle McGregor had to clear. In addition to fan expectations, physically grueling training regimens, and a plethora of battle droid deaths weighing on his conscience, one of the biggest struggles that the actor faced was a five-year descent into an ever-widening rabbit hole of blue screens.

Ewan McGregor doesn't like green screens

"George loves technology and loves pushing into that realm," McGregor told THR of his time working on episodes one through three, when George Lucas became increasingly enamored with digital sets and characters. "He wanted more and more control over what we see in the background ... After three or four months of that, it just gets really tedious."

Maybe performing against an imaginary set with imaginary actors is a fun exercise in theory, but the much-maligned stilted scripts from the prequels added fuel to McGregor's frustration fire. "I don't want to be rude, but it's not Shakespeare," he admitted. "There's not something to dig into in the dialogue that can satisfy you when there's no environment there. It was quite hard to do."

Thankfully, the upcoming "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series, slated for a 2022 debut on Disney+, won't be leaning quite as hard into chroma key hijinks. McGregor expressed excitement at the prospect of working on the LED rear-projection sets used to stunning effect on "The Mandalorian," which he credited with adding a new sense of depth to performances: "If you're in a desert, you're standing in the middle of a desert. If you're in the snow, you're surrounded by snow. And if you're in a cockpit of a starfighter, you're in space. It's going to feel so much more real." 

From the sound of McGregor's excitement, he's happy to put the prequel trilogy behind him.