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The Real Reasons Liam Neeson Agreed To Bring Qui-Gon Back For Obi-Wan Kenobi

Spoiler alert: This story includes key details from "Obi-Wan Kenobi" Part VI.

Fans of George Lucas' sprawling space opera "Star Wars" have just been treated to another nostalgic return to the saga with "Obi-Wan Kenobi." A six-episode Disney+ series, the story chronicles the plight of the venerable Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) as he's been flushed out of hiding by his former Padawan-turned-foe Anakin Skywalker-slash-Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen).

Set nine years before the events of "Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope," the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series naturally has several callbacks to the 1977 film, but to characters in their younger forms. As such, Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton) and his wife, Beru Lars (Bonnie Piesse) reprise their roles from the prequel trilogy. Also pivotal to "Obi-Wan Kenobi" are the 10-year-old versions of Luke Skywalker (Grant Feely) and Princess Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair) — the latter of which becomes a principal player opposite Obi-Wan throughout the series.

Of course, with McGregor's version of Obi-Wan heading up the series — Alec Guinness originated the role in the original "Star Wars" film trilogy — fans of the prequel movies had every reason to believe that there would be callbacks to some characters in the trilogy. Perhaps the biggest question was the potential appearance of Obi-Wan's Jedi master, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), who was struck down by Sith apprentice Darth Maul (Ray Park) in 1999's "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace," never to be seen in live-action form again.

Fans had right reason to think Qui-Gon could come back as a Force ghost, since the characters of Yoda, Guinness' Obi-Wan, and Anakin Skywalker all appeared in astral form in other "Star Wars" films. Luckily, after 23 years of waiting, Neeson made fans' wishes come true in a pivotal scene in the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" sixth and final episode.

Neeson wanted to pay respect to Lucas and the 'mythical world that he created'

In a post-finale interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Neeson said his return was predicated on his respect for George Lucas. On top of that, Neeson said he reprised Qui-Gon for personal reasons. "I certainly didn't want anyone else playing Qui-Gon Jinn, and I wanted to show my respect for George [Lucas] and that mythical world that he created," Neeson explained. "Plus, Ewan [McGregor] is a pal, and I loved working with him during 'The Phantom Menace' 25 years ago."

Although Obi-Wan called out for his Jedi Master to appear during the series, Qui-Gon's Force ghost didn't materialize until the waning moments of the episode, as his former Padawan was riding away from his meeting with the young Luke Skywalker and Uncle Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton). Qui-Gon injected a bit of ironic humor into the scene, asking Obi-Wan, "Well, took you long enough." After Obi-Wan answered that he was "beginning to think you'd never come," Qui-Gon in his wise Jedi ways, added, "I was always here, Obi-Wan. You just were not ready to see." He then motioned to Obi-Wan and said, "Come on. We've got a ways to go."

Of course, close watchers of the "Star Wars" fan space might recall that Neeson was recently asked about a potential return to a galaxy far, far away.

Neeson had to pretend he knew nothing of Qui-Gon's return in Obi-Wan Kenobi

Much in the same way that Andrew Garfield was forced to dodge questions about his return to "Spider-Man: No Way Home," Neeson similarly — and likely dictated by the terms of a nondisclosure agreement — couldn't talk about his appearance during the production of "Obi-Wan Kenobi." Instead, during an exclusive interview with Looper for his action-adventure film "The Ice Road" in June 2021, Neeson claimed he had not been contacted about appearing in the series.

"There've been so many spinoffs from the series. I'll be honest with you, I've just lost track. I did see the last [movie that featured] Skellig Island, which is a famous island off the southwest coast of Ireland, where Mark Hamill's character resides [near the areas] built by monks way [back in the] sixth century, I think," Neeson told Looper. "But, no, I haven't been approached on that. I believe Ewan's planning a TV series based on Obi-Wan, so good luck to him. Yeah, [it's] terrific. The audience for these films just seems to grow and grow, from child to adult, from adult to grandparent. It's amazing, actually. It's terrific."

Nonetheless, McGregor and Neeson are back together again in "Obi-Wan Kenobi," if only for a brief time. All six episodes of "Obi-Wan Kenobi" are streaming exclusively on Disney+.