Star Wars: The Force Awakens was designed from the beginning as a film for fans that was meant to remind them of the original Star Wars trilogy. While still part of the Star Wars saga, the prequel trilogy was not given nearly that level of attention. Having said that, the first three episodes were not ignored entirely by J.J. Abrams. Ewan McGregor reprised his role as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi for a single line of dialogue. However, while many of the films cameos and easter eggs were designed from the beginning, McGregor says he added his message to Rey incredibly late in production.
Normally post-production, especially on an effects-heavy film like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is something that takes place over a period of months. Voice over work, as something that's comparatively easy to do, usually takes place very early in production. However, in this case, it was apparently left to the very last minute, as Ewan McGregor tells Collider, he got the request from J.J. Abrams to record for the film just weeks before the film was set to be released.
I was literally emailed by JJ Abrams. I don’t know how he got my email, but he emailed me out of the blue weeks before the film came out. Like really, weeks, saying, ‘I really feel like you should be involved somehow. It feels right that you’re a part of it in some way, and there’s a scene where Rey is in this sort of dream land and I want to hear Alec Guinness — I want to hear Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice speaking to her.’ So I replied saying ‘I’ve been waiting for the call.’ [Laughs]
While every film is different, when you’re only a few weeks away from release, many movies are already completed and ready for to be shown. Some might be working on the last few edits. It’s very rare that a film would be adding new concepts that late in the schedule. It’s unclear whether this was a last minute idea that J.J. Abrams had to add the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi to Rey’s vision, or if they just hadn’t gotten to it yet. In the end, both Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness made vocal appearances during the scene.
While the prequel trilogy has received a lot of heat over the years, Ewan McGregor is probably the standout performance of the series. He does a great job not only playing a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, but actually playing a young Alec Guinness playing a young Obi-Wan. McGregor has expressed some interest in playing the role again for a future Star Wars film, and as rumors have persisted that a film, or films, focused on the Jedi are currently on the Lucasfilm drawing board, it’s possible we may see just that.
Did you recognize the voice of Ewan McGregor the first time you heard it in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? If not, you’ll have a chance to find it again when the movie is released on DVD next week.