lando obi wan in the last jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi may have been about “letting the past die,” but Rian Johnson’s entry in the Star Wars saga saw a fair few familiar faces peppered throughout the film. But while a few famous characters played pivotal parts in helping the new generation get up on their feet, fans were left wondering why Lando Calrissian and Obi-Wan Kenobi were left out of the party. Now we have an answer.

Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi lie ahead.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is the first and most important mentor that Luke Skywalker had, setting him on a path to becoming the Jedi that would defeat the Empire and restore balance to the galaxy. And then there are the parallels between Luke’s life and that of the older Obi-Wan — living life in isolation, until a talented young protegee arrives and forces them out of complacency. In The Last Jedi, it’s not Obi-Wan but Yoda who kicks Luke back into action — still a sound choice, but why not old Ben? Rian Johnson told CinemaBlend, this was an unavoidable storytelling decision:

Believe me, man. I would have loved to have had Ewan McGregor in the movie but it was just a matter of storytelling. The original relationship with Obi Wan – obviously if Alec Guinness were still with us that would have made sense. But we never saw Luke ever interact with the Ewan version of Obi Wan, so there’s less of the emotional connection and it might have been a little odd.

It would definitely have been jarring to see an older Luke interact with a younger Obi-Wan played by Ewan McGregor who, like Johnson said, he never knew. Like the bizarre insertion of Hayden Christensen’s young Anakin as a Force ghost in the 2004 re-release of Return of the Jedi, it would have felt disingenuous.

Johnson also would have felt disingenuous by including Lando, who he briefly considered bringing back to play the role that Benicio del Toro’s DJ ends up taking, Johnson told The Playlist:

“Of course I’d love to see Lando. In terms of Lando, I briefly considered — would he work in the Benicio [del Toro] part, [DJ]. I don’t think you would ever buy that Lando would just completely betray the characters like that and have that level of moral ambiguity. Cause we love Lando and you’d come into it with that [expectation]. And also, DJ, the character that they met, for the purposes of Finn’s character, had to be a morally ambiguous character that you’re not sure about, that you’re guessing about, and we already know that we love the character of Lando so it just wouldn’t have played in that part story wise.”

Lando simply never fit into the structure of the story, according to Johnson. Now, rather than acting the part of the morally ambiguous backstabber again, I’ve heard some suggestions that Lando could have easily taken Admiral Holdo’s place as the hero whose sacrifice saves the Resistance. But then we would have been deprived of Laura Dern in Star Wars, and where would that leave us?

“You have to write organically,” Johnson continued. “Otherwise it leads to contrived places. Which is just to say it’s all about the needs of the story and there’s only so much room on the table for… favorite characters to be in the movie.”

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