Sixteen years after George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith, Joel Edgerton is preparing to make his return to the Star Wars universe. The actor is set to reprise his role as Owen Lars in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+, and while little is known about what we’ll see from the character in the story, fans are generally excited to see him come back. Surely Edgerton himself is anticipating it as well – though as he waits for his first day on set, he has some reservations about the specific way in which the show is being shot.
Like Disney+’s The Mandalorian, the production of Obi-Wan Kenobi will be utilizing the advanced digital backlot called StageCraft, developed by Industrial Light & Magic, and while audiences have been dazzled by results we’ve seen from the nascent technology, Joel Edgerton has some worries about how it might clash with the way he prefers to work. As featured in the video at the top of this article, I recently had the chance to interview the actor during the virtual press day for the new movie The Green Knight, and during our conversation he expressed his thoughts about working on the new Star Wars series. Said Edgerton,
Well, I'm yet to go and participate in my section of that, so I can't comment, but I can say that the difference between standing in a real life forest or shooting in a period castle, as an actor, I feel like my imagination, I want to preserve and reserve for performance and for relating to another actor. And it really helps me if what I'm holding in my hands and what I'm looking at as backdrop is filling up that world for me, rather than trying to imagine 'things' – trying to project my own version on a green screen of what's supposed to be there. It really just helps me.
George Lucas used a lot of green screen in the making of both Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith, so Joel Edgerton certainly knows what he is talking about here – but it’s also worth noting that StageCraft is definitely a step above simple chroma key. The setup uses a powerful game engine that allows filmmakers to project environments on LED walls that performers can actually see while on set, and that respond to the angle of the camera. That being said, it’s still not “real,” and actors still have to make special adjustments for the production.
The subject very naturally came up in conversation because Joel Edgerton’s newest movie, David Lowery’s The Green Knight, is one that was shot on-location and was made with a strong emphasis on practical effects. For his part in the Arthurian epic, Edgerton plays the lord of a spectacular manor that transports the viewer back to the sixth century – and being embedded in all of the authentic production design meant that every ounce of the actor’s imagination could be dedicated to his performance rather than be distracted by the environment. He explained,
I think my brain is lazy or my brain really kind of gets channeled into an imagination that's better if I'm living and breathing in real world. I really take my hat off to actors who can stand on a green screen and give incredible performances. The great thing about being on the Green Knight set was you could look in one direction and really feel like you were transported in time or into David's imagination of this world. And then you turn the other way and you'd just see a bunch of regular crew standing around. It was truly incredible.
While Joel Edgerton hasn’t been on set just yet, Obi-Wan Kenobi is now in production, though a release date has not yet been announced. We’ll keep you posted about all of the latest updates as they come in – but in the more immediate future you should do yourself a favor and go see The Green Knight, which hits theaters this Friday, July 30.