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Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Kumail Nanjiani On Being 'Intimidated' By Ewan McGregor In Star Wars Mode

Ewan McGregor
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Over the many years of doing this job, I have been lucky enough to interview several celebrities I’ve grown to admire. And there are times when you are speaking with an actor who you may have watched all your life -- possibly even speaking to them about a legendary role they once occupied -- and you realize in the moment, “Wait, I’m talking to THE REAL person! This is really that actor!” Sitting across from Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Harrison Ford, Angelina Jolie or countless others catches you off guard… and it seems I’m not alone. Kumail Nanjiani is famous, and he too gets tripped up when appearing opposite celebrated co-stars in popular roles. 

Eternals co-star Kumail Nanjiani has a part to play in the anticipated Disney+ series built around Obi-Wan Kenobi, played once again on screen by Ewan McGregor. And when Nanjiani spoke with Rolling Stone about production on Kenobi, he mentioned getting starstruck -- not by McGregor, but specifically when McGregor played the iconic Jedi master in a scene. As Nanjiani tells it:

I had this moment. I’d heard Ewan [McGregor] was supernice. And then we got to know each other a little bit, just hanging out and talking. Then there was this weird moment where I’m talking to Ewan and they yell ‘Action,’ and he’d started talking to me, and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m talking to Obi-Wan right now. This is not Ewan McGregor. This is Obi-Wan Kenobi that I’m talking to.’ My character is supposed to be a little bit intimidated by him, and I was a little bit intimidated. You know, it’s fucking Obi-Wan, what are you gonna do?

We’d all likely have the same reaction. Some actors sync up with their roles. Tom Hanks is probably always Tom Hanks. But if I saw Hugh Jackman slip into Wolverine mode, I’d no doubt lose my shit. That’s what appears to have happened to Kumail Nanjiani, so it’s a good thing his unknown character in Kenobi is meant to be intimidated by the Jedi. It might be the most natural performance of Nanjiani’s life. 

Now we need to know if Kumail Nanjiani got to spend any time with Hayden Christensen on the Kenobi set, because the actor is joining his prequels co-star Ewan McGregor and once again playing the tragic figure Anakin Skywalker, who by this stage of the story has been transformed into the iconic villain Darth Vader. We believe that Kenobi will be set between Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and the original Star Wars, but it will play out in a serialized form like all of the new Star Wars shows on Disney+, from The Mandalorian to the upcoming Andor and The Book of Boba Fett

We know that Kenobi is going to arrive in 2022, and is expected to have six episodes. That’s painfully short, though with those two classic characters back on screen, played by the actors who grew into the parts in the prequels, we will take what we can get. The Book of Boba Fett should be the next live-action Star Wars project dropping on Disney+ in December, but you can also head to the streaming service now to watch both Star Wars Visions, the animated Bad Batch series, and a Halloween-themed program entitled Star Wars: Terrifying Tales.    

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.