During the first Star Wars Celebration panel, Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor step out to thunderous applause. Cosplayers go wild, waving their lightsabers in the air. McGregor looks at his comrade, and they both smile. This means a lot to them – perhaps more than they realized.
“I slightly switched after the prequels came out, it was hard that they weren’t liked,” McGregor tells Total Film just after stepping off stage. “I went off and did my other stuff. But now, it’s quite nice to feel that they were liked and feel that I can own it a bit more than I could then.”
For McGregor, who returns as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a new Disney Plus series, Star Wars fans are unlike any other in the world. “What’s funny is that you don’t have this relationship with the audience from other movies,” he says. “Standing out on stage there, you suddenly go, ‘Oh my god.’ These are the people we made it for, they’re passionate about this, these stories and this world. They’re really, really into it. And I like that feeling.”
Playing Darth Vader again marks something of a comeback for Christensen. At Celebration, there’s a palpable excitement every time his name is mentioned, and during the first-ever screening of Obi-Wan Kenobi, when “with Hayden Christensen” flashes up, the crowd roars.
“It’s been just extremely special for me,” he says of being at Celebration. “Just waiting backstage, before we came out, and watching the video footage [a montage of Star Wars movies and shows] that they put together, I was having a hard time not getting all choked up. This is a world I care a lot about. It feels really good to be back.”
With any luck, this won’t be the end of Christensen’s Star Wars journey. “This [Obi-Wan] series is very much about people dealing with their past,” Christensen says. “And certainly, Vader is in pursuit of Obi-Wan, and it’s him trying to reconcile that. We’re getting to see a side of Vader that maybe we haven’t seen before. And I’m excited for that and excited to continue my journey with this character.”
Whether Christensen or McGregor stick with Star Wars any longer remains to be seen – but, whatever the case, Celebration has led to a lot of love flowing their way, and the duo are certainly feeling it. For more dispatches from Celebration, check out our interview with Kathleen Kennedy about the future of Star Wars movies.