Despite the general public's dislike of the prequel Star Wars trilogy, one element fans did seem to enjoy was Ewan McGregor's portrayal of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. More than 10 years on from his seminal performance as the Jedi Knight, people are still clamoring for a cinematic telling of his solo adventure.
But as it goes with blockbusters, casting one of the major characters in a franchise takes time, with many actors considered for the role. That was the case with Obi-Wan. Indeed, at the time of the casting process for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, one of the strongest contenders to be Luke's future teacher was Joseph Fiennes.
Auditions that don't pan out are par for the course even for established actors, but the story of how Fiennes lost his shot at becoming the great #StarWars mentor may surprise you.
Fiennes' Lengthy Star Wars Audition Process
The British actor gave an interview to TheWrap to promote The Handmaid's Tale, in which he plays Commander Fred Waterford. In the interview, Fiennes was asked to recall his most memorable audition process. Ever cautious, he never mentioned the names of those involved with the casting, but offered a fair amount of hints to figure out what he was talking about. For example, he started mimicking the motion of holding a lightsaber while recalling the experience.
He revealed that a series of auditions took place for the role, and after a while it came down to himself and one other "fine actor" for the part:
“I auditioned for a great director. It was whittled down after many auditions to myself and another fine actor who I was at that time at drama school with.”
TheWrap confirmed #EwanMcGregor and Fiennes attended London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama, meaning McGregor was the "fine actor" Fiennes referred to.
Losing Out On The Role
Fiennes recalled that he continued to moved up the audition ladder as the contenders were trimmed, meeting with #GeorgeLucas and casting director Robin Gurland to audition before them. After his audition, he went over to speak to the two, where he was introduced to "somebody's daughter," a little girl who, according to the actor, was around five years old. Lucas's eldest daughter Amanda was born in 1981 and his second daughter Katie in 1988, so Katie would have been around six or seven when the casting process was underway.
Fiennes was introduced by Lucas to the little girl, telling her the actor was most likely the next Ben Kenobi. According to Fiennes, the girl's response was — well, let's just say less than welcoming:
“His daughter turned around and said ‘I don’t like this guy. He’s weird. I don’t like him.’ And that’s how my audition went.”
And that, my fellow Star Wars geeks, marked the end of Fiennes' Star Wars journey. That's right, the girl's unfavorable first impression of Fiennes cost him one of the most iconic roles in movie history. Which begs the question: Would he have done a good job as the character? It's possible. He's a talented performer who can definitely play the part of a wise mentor.
I must say, it was a bit extreme on Lucas's part to take Fiennes off the list possibly because his daughter wasn't fond of him. But that just shows how intense an audition process for such a big role can be.
You might think this wasn't such a loss, considering that McGregor hasn't played #ObiWanKenobi in live action since 2005's Revenge of the Sith. The thing is, the role is still fresh in the minds of audiences thanks to the Scottish actor's rendition. And while we've gone 12 years without seeing him in the role, fan interest on his return is at an all-time high.
Fortunately, Fiennes has been doing quite well for himself, thank you very much. Between his starring role in the critically acclaimed American Horror Story and pivotal role in Hulu's current hit series #TheHandmaidensTale, we doubt Joe is crying into his pillow at night.
What do you think about Joseph Fiennes' Obi-Wan anecdote? Would he have done a good job in the role? Let us know in the comments.