Ewan McGregor in The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally in theaters, so hopefully most of you have already ventured out to see how this new era of stories from a galaxy far, far away begins. Old heroes return as new heroes jump into the fray. And while most of the old heroes can be seen front and center on the big screen with the return of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill as Han Solo, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker respectively, there are a couple other returning cast members that weren’t so prominent, but play an important part nonetheless.

Director J.J. Abrams has confirmed that Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy), Alec Guiness (Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original trilogy) and Frank Oz (the voice of Yoda) were brought back for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But since talking about their roles takes us into major spoiler territory, you’ll have to hit the jump to find out more.

At Maz Kanata’s castle, Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds herself drawn to the basement, hearing the cries of a child. She ends up in a room that has a bunch of odds and ends in it, including a crate that contains the lightsaber of Luke Skywalker, the one he lost when his hand was cut off in The Empire Strikes Back. And when Rey touches it, we get thrown into a wild Force flashback.

Rey ends up in the hallway from The Empire Strikes Back where Luke once faced Darth Vader. She sees Luke next to a fire putting his metal hand on R2-D2, perhaps before leaving everything behind. Bodies are scattered on the ground in the pouring rain with Kylo Ren having just killed one of them while a group of similarly dressed people stand next to him, presumably the Knights of Ren. She sees herself as a young girl being left behind on Jakku with Unkar Plutt. And then she’s in the snowy forest at night with Kylo Ren ready to face her.

During these flashes is when Ewan McGregor, Alec Guinness and Frank Oz can all be heard. There are a few snippets of echoing dialogue from Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda as Rey makes this strange journey through the past and eventually into the future as well. Yoda’s line is one from The Empire Strikes Back that was re-recorded by Frank Oz while Obi-Wan Kenobi’s was something new entirely, and the way it was created with both Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness is cool.

You might be thinking that Alec Guinness has been dead since 2000, and you’re 100% correct. But thanks to some editing trickery and voice recording from Ewan McGregor, we get the new Obi-Wan Kenobi line that we hear in The Force Awakens. The line in question comes at the very end of this Force flashback, and it says, “Rey, you’ve taken your first steps.” Entertainment Weekly caught up with Abrams after a Writers Guild of America screening, and they talked about how they made that happen:

“We asked Ewan McGregor to come in and do the line. And he was awesome and we were very grateful. He was incredibly sweet and handsome, and all that stuff. Then he rode off on his motorcycle. Literally the coolest voice over actor ever.”

Originally you would have just heard Ewan McGregor in The Force Awakens since Guinness is no longer with us. But one day Bryan Burk, one of the executives at Bad Robot, surprised Abrams with old Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice saying the name “Rey” and he thought it was just McGregor’s voice manipulated:

“I said, ‘That’s cool, is that the thing from Ewan McGregor?’ He said ‘No, we took a line from Alec Guinness saying ‘Afraid.’ They cut it, and you hear the performance – he’s saying it the way I would have begged Alec Guinness to have said it. It is so crazy perfect. So when you hear Obi-Wan talk to Rey it is both Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor doing the voice.”

Meanwhile, Frank Oz apparently recorded a number of lines that could have been used in the movie, though they only ended up going with one. Abrams says:

“He was incredibly generous and came in to Bad Robot, where we had a recording area, and he was doing Yoda, saying a number of lines we gave to him. This whole experience has been one outrageous moment after another. Just watching Frank Oz, you look at him and talk to him and his voice is very deep. I don’t know why I would have thought he sounded like Miss Piggy!”

So there’s a little cool behind the scenes information that brings back some more familiar faces (or at least their voices) to The Force Awakens. But now we’re left with a bunch of questions about the content of this Force flashback, and hopefully we’ll start having the gaps filled in when Rian Johnson gets to work on Star Wars: Episode VIII. Stay tuned.

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