If you’ve seen yesterday’s finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi, there is a zero percent chance you missed the massive guest star who appeared in the episode’s finale moments. If you’re wondering what it took to bring them back to Star Wars after so long, they’re happy to explain—and why they were so happy to return.
Obi-Wan’s former master Qui-Gon Jinn was rumored to be appearing in the series even before the premiere aired, thanks to Yoda telling Obi-Wan at the end of Revenge of the Sith, “On your solitude on Tatooine, training I have for you. An old friend has learned the path to immortality. One who has returned from the Netherworld of the Force. Your old master. How to commune with him I’ll teach you.” Clearly, Obi-Wan was meant to be communing with Qui-Gon since bringing baby Luke to Tatooine, but when the show begins, he’s lost his connection to the Force, and his hope—clearly not in the right frame of mind to get a visit from the Force ghost of his former master. But after his adventures rescuing the young Princess Leia and facing his former pupil-turned-foe Darth Vader, Obi-Wan’s connection to the Force is re-established, allowing the transparent blue form of Qui-Gon to appear in the episode’s final moments.
It was probably about half a day’s work for star Liam Neeson, but his reasons for returning to the role he last (and only) played in 1999's The Phantom Menace were for more than just an easy paycheck. As he told The Hollywood Reporter, “I certainly didn’t want anyone else playing Qui-Gon Jinn, and I wanted to show my respect for George [Lucas] and that mythical world that he created. Plus, Ewan [McGregor] is a pal, and I loved working with him during The Phantom Menace 25 years ago.”
I love the idea that Neeson got irritated at the idea of someone else playing the role when Lucasfilm almost certainly wouldn’t have had Qui-Gon show up at all without Neeson’s involvement. It’s also possible that had the actor balked at making an appearance on the series, he could have gone in a recording booth, said his small smattering of lines, and let the whizzes at Lucasfilm make a CG version of Qui-Gon that would have been good enough. After all, that’s exactly how he returned last time, for his brief appearance in Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ third season.
But instead, we got original recipe Qui-Gon! Now the question is, what role might the deceased Jedi master play if Obi-Wan Kenobi gets a second season...?
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