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Ewan McGregor defends Star Wars prequels for veering away from the originals


Ewan McGregor has defended the Star Wars prequels and said he thinks it was ‘ballsy’ for George Lucas to veer away from the beloved originals in the movies.

The Scottish actor, 51, starred in the trio of prequels – The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack Of The Clones (2002) and Revenge Of The Sith (2005) – alongside the likes of Liam Neeson, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman.

Although they were seemingly destined for success like the original trilogy, they are the most criticised film in the franchise and have been at the butt of jokes in the Star Wars fanbase for years.

Support: Ewan McGregor (pictured speaking at GQ summit) has defended the Star Wars prequels and said he thinks it was 'ballsy' for George Lucas to veer away from the originals

Support: Ewan McGregor (pictured speaking at GQ summit) has defended the Star Wars prequels and said he thinks it was ‘ballsy’ for George Lucas to veer away from the originals

But Ewan, who starred as Obi Wan Kenobi and has returned to the franchise this year for a Disney+ series, has defended the controversial prequels and said he has grown to love them over the years.

Speaking at the GQ Heroes annual summit in association with BMW at Soho Farmhouse on Thursday, Ewan said he thought it was ‘ballsy’ for director George, who helmed the original trilogy, to do something ‘different with the prequels’.

He also admitted that his own relationship with the movies has changed over the years and said he has grown to love them after hearing positive reviews from fans.

Speaking to Adam Baidawi, British GQ’s Head of Editorial Content and Deputy Global Editorial Director of GQ, Ewan explained: ‘I think [my relationship to the prequels] has changed for me as I’ve met more people in that generation.

Defence: But Ewan, who starred as Obi Wan Kenobi in the movies, has defended the prequels and said he has grown to love them over the years after hearing from fans of the films

Defence: But Ewan, who starred as Obi Wan Kenobi in the movies, has defended the prequels and said he has grown to love them over the years after hearing from fans of the films

Cast: The Scottish actor, 51, starred in the trio of prequels alongside the likes of Liam Neeson, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman

Cast: The Scottish actor, 51, starred in the trio of prequels alongside the likes of Liam Neeson, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman

‘I admire George [Lucas] for having tried to do something different with them, he didn’t just set out to make another three Star Wars films that felt like the original ones, I respected him for that, I think that’s ballsy and interesting.’

Addressing the poor critical reception of the films at the time, Ewan said critics wanted to be transported back to their childhoods with the prequels.

He added: ‘I think the critics just wanted to feel like they were seven or eight again, and they didn’t get that, so I was left with that [reaction] for years and years.’

Ewan is not the first actor to defend the divisive prequels as franchise veteran Mark Hamill, who portrayed the original Luke Skywalker, spoke out in support of the films last year.

Controversial: Addressing the poor critical reception of the films at the time, Ewan said critics wanted to be transported back to their childhoods and the original trilogy with the prequels

Controversial: Addressing the poor critical reception of the films at the time, Ewan said critics wanted to be transported back to their childhoods and the original trilogy with the prequels

‘I was impressed the prequels had their own identity,’ Mark, 70, said in an interview for film historian J. W. Rinzler’s posthumously published book, Howard Kazanjian: A Producer’s Life.

He claimed the three prequel films have been criticised over the years, not because they’re not good, but instead because they weren’t as easily digestible as the others.   

‘They were criticised because they were exposition-heavy and more cerebral and probably, like he said back in 1976, they weren’t as commercial,’ he said as reported by IndieWire.

The actor continued: ‘It’s a darker story. But in the age of social media, people’s voices are amplified, and I’m shocked at how brutal they can be, not just in the case of Star Wars films, but across the board.’

He's back! This year, Ewan McGregor has reprised his role as the Jedi master and returned to the epic franchise for new Disney+ series Obi Wan Kenobi

He’s back! This year, Ewan McGregor has reprised his role as the Jedi master and returned to the epic franchise for new Disney+ series Obi Wan Kenobi

George Lucas’ ex-wife Marcia Lucas is among those who have not been shy in sharing their displeasure of the prequels that began with Liam Neeson as Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn, and had Hayden Christianson star in the final two instalments as Anakin Skywalker.

‘I cried,’ Marcia Lucas, who was married to George Lucas from 1969 and 1983, said after seeing a screening of Phantom Menace for the first time. 

‘I cried because I didn’t think it was very good.’

The Star Wars franchise more recently returned for a sequel trilogy, made up of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

Fan: Ewan is not the first actor to defend the prequels as Mark Hamill (pictured in November 2019), who portrayed the original Luke Skywalker, spoke out in support of the films last year

Fan: Ewan is not the first actor to defend the prequels as Mark Hamill (pictured in November 2019), who portrayed the original Luke Skywalker, spoke out in support of the films last year

The recent trilogy, from the minds of J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy, brought back original cast members Mark, the late Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, and also starred new faces Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.

And this year, Ewan McGregor has reprised his role as the Jedi master and returned to the epic franchise for new Disney+ series Obi Wan Kenobi.

Speaking about returning to the role in May, Ewan admitted he had to relearn Obi-Wan Kenobi’s accent after adapting the timbre of the late Sir Alec Guinness who originated the role in the 1977 Star Wars film.

Ewan said he had to read with other actors for two roles and they borrowed the set of The Mandalorian on a Sunday when they had a day off.

‘I went to this dressing room, and there was this sort of Obi-Wan-esque costume, you know. Sort of cobbled it together and I put it on and that was sort of breathtaking after 17 years, looking in the mirror,’ he said on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Originals: Mark (pictured in A New Hope) said the prequels have been criticised, not because they're not good, but instead because they weren't as easily digestible as the others

Originals: Mark (pictured in A New Hope) said the prequels have been criticised, not because they’re not good, but instead because they weren’t as easily digestible as the others 

‘But then I went on and I started reading with these other actors, and I totally didn’t have his voice at all. It was really bad. I was just sort of doing this vague English accent and it didn’t sound at all like Obi-Wan Kenobi,’ he said.

Chat show host Jimmy joked that the crew was probably wondering, ‘Who the heck is this guy?’

‘They were quite excited when I walked on, I could feel that they were quite excited. But then they were majorly disappointed,’ he joked.

The actor, who reunited with Hayden Christensen for the series as he returned to play Darth Vader – said he had to do some homework to get the well-recognised accent back.

‘I just had to go back and like watch lots of Alec Guinness movies and watch all the original films. I got back into it. It was good, it was really good fun,’ he said.

Franchise: The franchise has returned for a sequel trilogy, made up of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Franchise: The franchise has returned for a sequel trilogy, made up of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) 

He also confirmed that he does Jedi-type hand moves and pretends to use The Force for his own amusement.

‘Yeah, I know, like an automatic door I can’t help myself,’ McGregor said laughing.

‘In the airport, or something. You know, there’s always like, in the airport, there’s always automatic doors. I always do it for myself, but I also hope somebody sees me do it, you know,’ he said cracking up.

Speaking of the new episodes, which are available to stream on Disney+, Ewan said: ‘I’ve seen them all and I think they’re really good, so I think people will not be disappointed.’

Ewan McGregor spoke at GQ Heroes in association with BMW at Soho Farmhouse. 

Amusing: Speaking about returning to the Star Wars franchise, Ewan admitted he had to relearn Obi-Wan Kenobi's accent after adapting the timbre of the late Sir Alec Guinness

Amusing: Speaking about returning to the Star Wars franchise, Ewan admitted he had to relearn Obi-Wan Kenobi’s accent after adapting the timbre of the late Sir Alec Guinness

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