Wizard. Knight. Mentor.
As the excitement regarding regarding the new Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars film settles down, we’re left with a few questions. The timeline will undoubtedly take place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, but just who will don the hermit’s famous hooded robe? Many hope and pray that Ewan McGregor will return to the role, as his performance remains the best part of Lucas’s prequels. However, there could be any number of reasons why the successful actor wouldn’t take the part. He’s already reprised a role from his youth in this years’ Trainspotting 2, could we blame him if he chose to avoid another sequel?
While we eagerly await the answer, there’s no doubt Disney would continue on with the film without McGregor’s presence. But this is no mere swordsman, no mere mentor. This is Obi-Wan Kenobi, our first Jedi. Alec Guinness may not have enjoyed the fame it would bring him, but his performance gave weight and gravitas to a puppet-laden fantasy film set in space. The balance between good and evil was paramount to the Universe because he told us it was. Guinness would inspire an infinite amount of children to lift their hands at inanimate objects, hoping that their will could cause it to stir.
McGregor’s performance may be the only redeeming factor of the prequel films. He gave Obi-Wan the perfect amount of optimism and pretension, the kind of hubris to mirror that of the entire Jedi Order. To fill his shoes would be incredibly difficult, but there are many talented actors who could make the part their own. We may yet see Ewan take up his old sword, but here are 10 actors who are just as worthy of wielding it.
1. Jude Law
Jude Law has been one of the most consistent working actors of the modern day. He can play anything from the most menacing of papal monsters to a cheerful, gigolo or a robot. As he was recently cast as a young Dumbledore, he may be avoiding more franchises. But the wizards may have a couple of things in common. Playing any Jedi requires the ability to convince us that magic is real. With the same twinkle in his eye as McGregor, Law may do just that.
2. Ethan Hawke
Ethan Hawke has been enjoying a bit of a comeback lately. His performance in Boyhood earned him an Oscar nomination and he was a fan favorite to play Marvel’s Doctor Strange. He doesn’t have any blockbusters under his belt, but the nuances that make him an incredible actor would perfectly suit an aged Obi-Wan Kenobi.
3. Wentworth Miller
The Kenobi we meet in A New Hope is almost as cold and calculating as the menace he faces. He’s seen the world turn against his kind and his weariness shows it. Wentworth Miller’s roles in Prison Break and The Flash show a surprisingly emotional, emotionless villain with a conscience. As the old warrior struggles to hide his powers, Miller would be a solid choice to express such inner turmoil.
4. Josh Hartnett
Despite having a rather quiet decade, Penny Dreadful has helped audiences to remember the name Josh Hartnett. At one point he was one of the most successful actors in Hollywood. Avoiding fame seemed to be his goal, spending years away from any screen. However, a chance at becoming one of film’s greatest heroes may just tempt him into the limelight.
5. David Thewlis
Most famous for his role in Harry Potter and this years Wonder Woman, Thewlis would be an excellent choice. His facial expressions and body language convey a tired worldliness that is necessary for the part. At his core the hermit is an aging scholar who must hide half of his very self. It would seem Remus Lupin and Obi-Wan Kenobi have a few things in common.
6. Ewen Bremner
Another Wonder Woman alum, Bremner has played parts both crazed and dazed. His talent can reach all sides of the spectrum, and gives him the experience to seem well… experienced. Not unlike Thewlis, Bremner looks as if he’s seen some shit. His eyes can laugh on their own or display great fear or worry. He could use both to great effect as the lone outcast we all know, love and miss.
7. Viggo Mortenson
The man who would be King has the quiet wisdom of a Jedi Master. His own sword notwithstanding, Mortenson has followed the Lord of the Rings with a choosy but admirable filmography. He plays quiet characters who struggle with themselves and the world they live in. It’s no independent film, but Obi-Wan epitomizes the search for meaning amidst great tragedy. In the loneliness and solitude of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mortenson may find a kindred spirit with whom he can explore.
8. James McAvoy
The youngest actor on the list, McAvoy has displayed an incredible range as an actor. He moves deftly between antagonists and protagonists, even adequately filling in the shows of Patrick Stewart. He has the same level of pretension as McGregor, the “snooty” pompousness that Brits are so good at. Seeing him struggle as Professor X does more than show he’s up to the unenviable task of filling Guinness’ and McGregor’s shoes.
9. Joel Edgerton
The only one on the list to have been in a Star Wars film, Edgerton would be an inspired choice. He can play the part of a muscular warrior as well as the caring father figure. Like Viggo Mortenson, he may be too big and muscular to resemble the relatively small Guinness. But with the power to deliver any knockout performance, Edgerton would certainly give us his Obi-Wan. Not simply an impression of the ones who came before him.
10. Gary Oldman
The eldest actor on the list may be the best choice. Having already filled the shoes of Alec Guinness in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Oldman may be closing on 60 but he’s more than up to the task. Perhaps the greatest actor of our time, Oldman has no trouble working on Indie wonders or blockbuster behemoths. Regardless of the role, Gary Oldman displays a commanding presence unparalleled by anyone working today. If the film leads to a planned trilogy, Oldman’s age would keep him from the part. But if we only look once into the unknown years of the Jedi Master, let Gary Oldman be the one to take us there.
More powerful than you could ever imagine…
Star Wars is the single greatest film franchise in history. Every character is interesting enough to demand countless stories of their own. Obi-Wan Kenobi was our first tutor, our first sage. With his help we…Luke was able to balance emotion and power to defeat the Empire against great odds. That was an Obi-Wan who could finally see his work come to fruition. To see his adopted student do what he couldn’t, and become more than he could ever imagine.
That was all Obi-Wan ever wanted. To see the light grow in his student, and for that light to eclipse any that came before it. The subtle anger and loss that Obi-Wan needs to show is a difficult task for an actor. Ewan McGregor may yet be up to the task, but the actors listed here have proven themselves just as worthy.