As filming is about to begin for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, the official cast list was released and there are already some good signs that this could be one of the best Disney+ series yet.
The Obi-Wan Kenobi series has been one of the few Star Wars series we knew was coming before Disney Investor Day last November. It was officially announced at D23 in 2019 as Ewan McGregor came joined Kathleen Kennedy on stage to confirm that the beloved character was getting his own series. Rumors that it was initially going to be “A Star Wars Story” film were later confirmed by McGregor himself in an interview with ComingSoon.net. The reason is likely the poor box office performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was also rumored to have killed a Boba Fett solo film to be directed by James Mangold (Mangold got his consolation prize by being named the director of Indiana Jones 5). Now, both characters are getting their own series on Disney Plus. Boba Fett will be up first in December 2021 and Obi-Wan will join in 2022. And now, we have the official cast list, and there is plenty to be excited about:
There have been very few leaks during pre-production
While leaks are always great for speculation and theories to run wild on the Internet, they are not great for the production and writing teams. The constant build-up of expectations that arise can undermine the story the creators want to tell. WandaVision fell victim to its’ many leaks early on when actors like Evan Peter’s were spotted on set. Even The Mandalorian leaks got out of hand, spoiling Ahsoka and Bo Katan Kryze’s live-action debuts, although they still managed to keep one big surprise a secret. I hope the set for Obi-Wan Kenobi can shut those down and, the fact that there was really only one casting leak (Indira Varma) before this official release is a good start. Hopefully, this can continue through filming and editing.
This might be the best cast on a Disney Plus show so far.
A mixture of film, TV, and directors/actors make up this cast list, including gem casting that previous franchises have neglected and actors that have been overlooked. The casting department’s skills are most impressive.
Obviously, there are more well-known names in this cast like McGregor, Christensen, Edgerton and Kumail Numjani (who will also be making his MCU debut in The Eternals). But from top to bottom the level of talent is stellar. Sung Kang from the Fast and Furious franchise is so popular that his return in the F9 trailer spurred a #justiceforhan campaign, capitalizing on fan anger over the fact that the man responsible for his death, Deckard Shaw, was not only still alive but getting elevated in the franchise by getting his own film with Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs and Shaw). Bringing Han back was the least they could do but now Disney has their hands on Sung Kang who has not been given many opportunities in Hollywood outside of the Fast Franchise. May he find prosperity on the sands of Tatooine.
Another gem is Indira Varma, of whom it seems most people know her from Game of Thrones. I never and will never watch the show but I am plenty familiar with Varma’s talents from this banger:
And this one:
The latter being a highly underrated comic adaptation that was elevated by talent like Varma.
Since then she has worked a lot in high fantasy properties but it is nice to see her in a solid franchise (also perhaps some goodwill from the similarly underrated Disney Plus film The One and Only Ivan). Long overdue.
Talk about making an impression out of the gate. On the one hand, you have many actors of color who have struggled to make headways in this industry but things are changing and some had to walk so talent like Moses Ingram could fly. Her first major role, The Queen’s Gambit, on Netflix where she plays Jolene, the foster sister of hot mess prodigy Beth Harmon played by Anya Taylor Joy (also absurdly talented) made such an impression that she got swooped up as the possible female lead on this show. I hope there will be no alien makeup put on her (there are naturally rumors of Ahsoka or Ventress showing up which I doubt). I am more hoping this could be Rae Sloane, who would be around the actress’s age during this time. Again, no reason that Rae Sloane should still be relegated in novel/comic form when she is a main architect of The First Order and, since The Mandalorian is taking steps to fill in those gaps, it makes sense to continue to put the pieces in place with a Mando alum Deborah Chow.
The only thing that is preventing me from thinking this is a sure thing is the credible rumors early on that Disney was eyeing Naomi Scott for the female lead. This was before the script rewrites so Ingram’s role could change but, if she is the same character that Scott was being looked at for, it is not Sloane.
And then there is a Ben Safdie, one half of the impressive director duo The Safdie Brothers. If you haven’t seen the films Good Time or Uncut Gem, treat yourself. They are directors on the rise and will be household names within the next decade, but Ben is also a great actor in his own right (he played Robert Pattinson’s brother in Good Time). His role might not be that big but the fact that he’s on this casting list means someone is paying attention and finding talent that will make the most of their on-screen time.
With filming officially kicking off in April, more information will undoubtedly begin to come out about the plot. With this casting announcement, we also got the exact time- ten years after Revenge of the Sith which puts it slightly closer to A New Hope and close to Solo: A Star Wars Story. And the return of Edgerton and Piesse almost guarantees we will have an appearance of young Luke. This means we will also get a Darth Vader in his prime and a peak Empire so it will be great to see more of that perspective of a Jedi living during that time.
In my ranking post for Disney Investor Star Wars projects, I placed Obi-Wan Kenobi at #5 behind Rogue Squadron and Andor (though emphasized my excitement for all of the top five). I would probably put it ahead of Andor based on the cast alone (though we have not gotten the complete cast list for Andor and I have more confidence in that writing team). That is how strong this casting is and I hope they all deliver.