McGregor got the call from J.J. Abrams just “weeks before the film came out”
Ewan McGregor has revealed that his voiceover cameo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a last-minute addition to the movie.
In the latest film, McGregor speaks one line of dialogue as Obi-Wan Kenobi. During a flashback scene that occurs when Rey touches Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber, McGregor can be heard whispering the character’s name.
According to McGregor, he was asked by director JJ Abrams to appear in the movie just weeks before it was due to be released in December last year.
“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,” he told Collider in an interview. “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.’”
He continued: “So I replied saying ‘I’ve been waiting for the call’. I was happy to go in. So I got a chance to go — I was editing a film I directed just here, and I jumped on my motorbike after the edit was finished, rode over to their lot and met JJ for the first time and he took me in.”
McGregor said that he watched back Alec Guinness’s performances as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy for inspiration before recording his line.
“So we started looking at my work from the first three episodes and then I suddenly thought when I was doing it I was only watching Alec Guinness’s work because I was trying to be Alec Guinness so watching me maybe isn’t the most helpful thing,” said McGregor.
“So immediately [Abrams] pulled up lots of Alec, he said to someone ‘Get lots of Alec Guinness scenes’. So we pulled up lots of Alec Guinness scenes, watched them, and then we recorded the line. Because that’s always what I did. I’d be in my dressing room just watching Alec Guinness and then I’d go on set. I was trying very hard to be Alec Guinness as a young man,” he added.
JJ Abrams has previously confirmed that Guinness’ voice was also used in the scene, having cut a piece of dialogue from his performance in the first Star Wars film.