Do not underestimate the power of a well-placed reveal. Recently, Star Wars fans were treated to their first look at the highly-anticipated upcoming Disney+ limited series Obi-Wan Kenobi, starring Ewan McGregor reprising his role as the former Jedi Master. In the flurry of faces both new and old, however, one key player was missing. (Mostly, anyway.) Keen viewers who stuck around through the end of the teaser trailer might have caught a certain well-known sound: Darth Vader himself drawing a heavy, mechanized breath.
Now, Entertainment Weekly is giving audiences their first look at the man once called Anakin Skywalker, played once again by Hayden Christensen. The lone still shows a fully suited Vader stepping out of his enclosed meditation chamber, one of the few places where he can safely remove his helmet. Though Christensen was evasive when asked if he would be appearing onscreen without Vader’s iconic helmet, saying that he was “sworn to secrecy,” it’s hard to imagine he’ll spend the whole series behind a literal mask. Christensen brought the adult Anakin Skywalker to life alongside McGregor‘s Obi-Wan Kenobi in the latter two prequel films, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. It would be nothing short of a missed opportunity to conceal one of the key players in defining Star Wars for a whole new generation.
Since Vader was largely absent from the trailer, the scale of his involvement in the series remains something of a mystery. However, in speaking to Entertainment Weekly, series writer Joby Harold said:
“His shadow is cast across so much of what we do. And the degree of his proximity to that shadow is something that we’ll discover. But he is very much a part of the show emotionally for Obi-Wan, and possibly beyond that as well.”
One “shadow” Harold is likely referring to is the Inquisitors, the squad of Jedi hunters under Vader’s command. Led by the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend), the teaser trailer shows the Inquisitors on the hunt for Obi-Wan Kenobi. One such inquisitor is Reva (Moses Ingram), who goes to both Tatooine and the brand-new planet of Daiyu in search of Kenobi.
In addition to McGregor, Christensen, Friend, and Ingram, the cast includes Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse returning as Owen and Beru Lars respectively. Playing thus-far undisclosed roles in the new series are Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Sung Kang, Simone Kessell, and Benny Safdie.
Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres on Disney+ on May 25.