Liam Neeson Says Star Wars Is Losing The 'Mystery And The Magic'

"Star Wars" is now a massive multi-billion dollar concern with 11 films, four live-action television shows (with more on the way), at least four in-canon animated series, and two theme park areas, so it's easy to forget that this entire universe began with a man trying to make an independently funded homage to space opera serials. Although the bevy of "Star Wars" material out there today may be a dream come true for long-time fans, some might say that the lack of additional spin-offs made the older films' releases a special event. Liam Neeson, who played Qui-Gon Jinn in "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace," is one of those who thinks that the franchise just doesn't feel that magical anymore.

To be fair, it's difficult to keep up with "Star Wars" now. In order to get the full story, audiences have to not only be familiar with the nine main movies (now dubbed the "Skywalker Saga"), but also the two spin-offs "Solo" and "Rogue One." Characters who originally appeared in animated shows like "The Clone Wars" and "Rebels" pop up in live-action projects, meaning those who chose to skip the cartoons have to make a quick Internet search when Ahsoka Tano or Bo-Katan show their faces. "The Book of Boba Fett" is a continuation of a story that started in "The Mandalorian," and the main character's arc in "Andor" concludes in "Rogue One." And whereas all of these new "Star Wars" entries came out in less than a decade, it took George Lucas more than 15 years to release "The Phantom Menace" after "Return of the Jedi."

Qui-Gon's quibbles

Characters from past "Star Wars" iterations also tend to return to the franchise, even if they need the help of some facial CGI. Neeson is no exception, as he made a brief cameo in the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series. The actor has said, however, that he's not very interested in making another return to a galaxy far, far away. Speaking on Andy Cohen's "Watch What Happens Live!" with Paul Rudd, Neeson said that the overabundance of spin-offs is "diluting" "Star Wars" for him, and that "it's taken away the mystery and the magic in a weird way."

It's not that Neeson isn't a "Star Wars" fan. He's also said on the show that he's "proud to have been a part of it," referring to the critically panned "The Phantom Menace." In addition, he also explained to The Hollywood Reporter last year that he returned as Qui-Gon because he "didn't want anyone else playing" the character, and that he wanted to pay "respect for George [Lucas] and that mythical world that he created." 

It's not that Neeson is a grouch, either. He clearly has a reverence for the franchise. It's just that his fandom is rooted in the pre-Disney days of Lucas' "Star Wars," a sentiment that may ring true for those who feel fatigued from the content overload of the streaming era. While there have always been novelizations, comic books, and video games that have expanded on the world of "Star Wars" since Lucasfilm was its own entity, they were supplementary material that didn't hinder understanding events in the films. Now that "Star Wars" has truly become what feels like an entire galaxy (far, far away), it's easy to get lost in its vastness of content.