It might take some time for the dust to settle on the hit Disney+ show Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022). Perhaps it’s all those Tatooine sandstorms, or maybe it’s wise to expect the fanbase to digest any new Star Wars property like a Sarlacc would its meal (though not over a 1000-year period). And the finale, simply titled “Part VI”, has certainly given Star Wars fans plenty to chew on.
Whether it was seeing Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and young Princess Leia (Vivian Lyra Blair) share an emotional farewell, the long-awaited return of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) as a Force Ghost, or, of course, the epic battle (“round two”, if you will) between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen), the finale certainly delivered in more ways than we expected.
But it’s really the latter that has Star Wars fans talking, and for many reasons. Hayden Christensen shines as Darth Vader (no pun intended), and while we do see him briefly in costume at the end of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith (2005), frankly, it just wasn’t enough for Star Wars fans to be able to form a proper judgement of his portrayal as the iconic villain.
Over the past few months, the 41-year-old actor has talked a lot about his return as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi, however, he has now revealed who helped him prepare to step back into the boots of the tyrannical Sith Lord and wield that red lightsaber for the very first time, and ultimately lock blades with his former Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In the show, 10-year-old actress Vivien Lyra Blair plays Anakin’s daughter Leia Organa, who is thrust into the action when she’s kidnapped by bounty hunter Vect Nokru (played by Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea) who works for the Inquistor Reva/The Third Sister (Moses Ingram). Fortunately, Obi-Wan comes to her rescue and the two develop a bond over the six episodes.
Blair is a joy to watch as a young Princess Leia, and brings buckets of charm to a show that could have quite easily felt somewhat lifeless without it. However, while Blair steals the show from the likes of A-list actor Ewan McGregor, and even Darth Vader himself, off the screen it’s actually Hayden Christensen’s real-life daughter Briar Rose who helped bring Darth Vader back to life!
On the June 24 episode of The Tonight Show, Christensen discussed his return in Obi-Wan Kenobi with host Jimmy Fallon, while revealing how he prepared to wield the lightsaber:
“She [Briar] was my first lightsaber training partner when I came back to the Obi-Wan show”, Christensen revealed, before adding that his daughter “knows Daddy’s Darth Vader”, but that she’s “never seen Daddy as Darth Vader”. Discussing the possibility of letting his daughter watch the Star Wars prequels, the actor said, “I’m still waiting a little bit, you know, until that happens. I might show her the prequels soon. But still, there’s some scenes we might have to fast forward through.”
Last December, Christensen’s ex-partner Rachel Bison told told Us Weekly. “Luckily, she’s [Briar] not aware that her dad is one of the biggest villains of all time. When that [time] comes, I don’t know how that’ll probably fare in school because nobody will mess with her!”
Now, Christensen fully embraces the role of Darth Vader, and this time it’s his Jedi counterpart Anakin Skywalker who is pushed to the sidelines for the purposes of flashback cameos only. However, we do see “fragments” of the fallen Jedi during that climactic lightsaber duel between master and apprentice on Tatooine.
In a scene that mirrors one from the lightsaber duel between Darth Vader (Matt Lanter/James Earl Jones) and Ashoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) in the Star Wars: Rebels (2014) Season 2 finale “Twilight of the Apprentice” — of which this fight is the opposite, as it pits Vader against his own former apprentice — the Sith Lord loses half of his helmet, leaving his face partially exposed.
Inside, we see a horribly disfigured Anakin Skywalker, who, recognizing that Obi-Wan harbors much guilt over his descent into the dark side, tells him, “I am not your failure. You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker — I did.” Obi-Wan then declares mournfully, “Then my friend is truly dead.” Given the Internet’s response, this scene has quickly become a fan-favorite Star Wars moment.
Hayden Christensen has to date appeared in Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones (2002), Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, and now, Obi-Wan Kenobi. He also has a brief voice cameo as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker (2019), but, naturally, he doesn’t ever actually voice Darth Vader — at least not with the helmet on.
In Obi-Wan Kenobi, James Earl Jones once again lends his vocal talents to the heavy-breathing Sith Lord, having voiced the character for 45 years, starting with Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977), and continuing in Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983).
The legendary actor returned for the birth of Vader in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, and again in 2016 for Star Wars spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), which is due its own live-action spin-off series this year with Andor (2022). Between both films, he also reprised his role as Vader in the popular animated show Star Wars: Rebels.
However, it looks like Hayden Christensen is becoming just as synonymous with the character as James Earl Jones is. In fact, during the Obi-Wan Kenobi finale, when Vader’s mask is broken, we hear a combination of Christensen and Jones’ voices, a creative decision that cements the fact that Skywalker and Vader are one — something that is often difficult to accept given that each identity has such distinction.
So, while it has already been confirmed that Christensen will be returning as Darth Vader, and possibly Anakin Skywalker, in the upcoming live-action Ahsoka (TBA) series, here’s to hoping we’ll see plenty more of him in other future Star Wars projects (we’ve got our lightsabers crossed for the upcoming Andor series).
To no surprise, Obi-Wan Kenobi has been at the heart of much controversy, from actress Moses Ingram receiving racist messages on her Instagram account, to the overall reception of the show itself. However, while many fans condemn Obi-Wan Kenobi, complaining that it interferes with established canon, others are praising it for fixing continuity errors created between A New Hope and Revenge of the Sith.
Obi-Wan Kenobi stars Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader), Grant Feely (Luke Skywalker), Vivien Lyra Blair (Leia Organa), Bonnie Piesse (Beru Lars), Joel Edgerton (Owen Lars), Moses Ingram (Reva/Third Sister), Kumail Nanjiani (Haja), Indira Varma (Tala), Rupert Friend (the Grand Inquisitor), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Roken), and Sung Kang (Fifth Brother).
All six episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Star Wars prequel trilogy are now streaming on Disney+.
What did you think of Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi? Let us know in the comments down below!