Why Obi-Wan Kenobi's Story Was 'Perfect' For A Limited Series Instead Of A Movie, According To Deborah Chow

Star Wars brought Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen from the big screen to the small screen to reprise their prequel film roles for Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series. The project came to Disney+ after years of rumors that McGregor would star in a standalone movie similar to what the galaxy far, far away did with Solo. The actor previously shared that the plan was not always for his character to get a TV show, but director and executive producer Deborah Chow spoke with CinemaBlend about why the story was ultimately “perfect” for a series instead of a film.

The eleven live-action films of the Star Wars universe (comprised of the three trilogies, Rogue One, and Solo) all have run times of between two and three hours, with the Solo standalone coming in at a little over two. To contrast, Obi-Wan Kenobi has six episodes to tell a story. Deborah Chow weighed in on what kind of freedoms the project had with a series vs. a movie, saying:

For me, the limited format was perfect for this story, because what it gives you is, you're still telling one story, where you can really do a beginning, middle, and end, and it is really built as one story. But you have more time. And you can spend more time with the character than you might have with a feature which might have to drive a little faster. So for the story I think that we wanted to tell, the limited format was kind of perfect.

A Star Wars film undoubtedly wouldn’t have had the time to slowly but surely show Obi-Wan getting back in touch with all the skills that had gotten very rusty over a decade in the desert without using the Force on Tatooine. There might not have been time for exploring the emotional aftermath for Ewan McGregor’s character, revealing the depth of Vader’s drive for revenge, building up Reva’s backstory as a brand new character, and delivering the kinds of prequel-era Star Wars action not seen in live-action since Revenge of the Sith in 2005. As Deborah Chow pointed out, the series format gave this story the time that it needed to really pack a punch. 

Would Obi-Wan regaining his strength as negotiator, general, and Jedi in Episode 5 have packed the same punch if we hadn’t seen the slow build? If we hadn’t seen the lows of the first episode, we wouldn’t necessarily see how far he has risen by this point. Of course, viewers knew going into this series that it wouldn’t end with a decisive win for either Obi-Wan or Vader, since that won’t happen until A New Hope. (And it’s up for debate among fans regarding which of them actually won that final lightsaber duel on the Death Star.)

Plus, Ewan McGregor hasn’t ruled out returning to play his iconic character again after what he deemed a “satisfying” story for fans, so the limited series format may have been ideal both for telling this particular story and setting up a potential next chapter. There are only so many directions that Star Wars can take Obi-Wan without contradicting canon from Star Wars Rebels and A New Hope (which Deborah Chow acknowledged as the “trickiest thing” about Obi-Wan Kenobi), but there’s plenty of wiggle room with all the unexplored years in the Star Wars timeline at this point.

For now, you can always enjoy the Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series streaming with a Disney+ subscription, plus all the other animated and live-action Star Wars content available on the platform. More live-action shows are on the way as well, with Andor (starring Rogue One’s Diego Luna) and Ahsoka bringing back Rosario Dawson and plenty of Star Wars Rebels characters

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).