Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Grand Inquisitor actor refused to watch Rebels for role

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The first episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi finally launches on Disney+ later this week and fans can’t wait to see Ewan McGregor’s Kenobi interact with Hayden Christensen’s Darth Vader. Beyond the typical Star Wars nostalgia, Obi-Wan Kenobi will also please fans of Star Wars Rebels nostalgia with The Grand Inquisitor making his live-action debut.

Interestingly enough, Grand Inquisitor actor Rupert Friend said he deliberately avoided watching Star Wars Rebels to prepare for the role. But why didn't Friend look to the animated series for inspiration? And will the actor's incarnation of the character be a good interpretation?

Why Rupert Friend didn’t watch Star Wars Rebels

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Most Star Wars fans know that Grand Inquisitor is one of the major villains in Rebels, often terrorizing the band of heroes. While the villain wasn’t the most successful in Star Wars history, most fans enjoyed his presence, especially with voice actor Jason Isaacs bringing a menacing aura to the charger.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Friend explained that he deliberately didn’t watch Rebels so he could put a fresh spin on The Grand Inquisitor. Apparently, it was a decision that director Deborah Chow and writer Dave Filoni were in full support of. Considering Feloni’s experience with the franchise, we feel that fans should trust this decision.

“I really wanted to honor the character as I saw him, and so I almost deliberately did not see the animated interpretation,” Friend explains. “Myself and [director] Deb Chow and [writer] Dave Filoni and all of the guys really wanted to do something fresh that honored and was faithful to the spirit of the character without doing a kind of impression of anybody else’s interpretation."

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Rupert Friend knows Grand Inquisitor’s backstory

Despite not watching Star Wars Rebels, Friend is very familiar with The Grand Inquisitor’s backstory. The actor is familiar with some of his character’s quirks, such as enjoying the sound of his own voice. Most importantly, Friend knows that Grand Inquisitor used to be a Jedi and feels that history helped him appreciate the character more.

While Friend is aware of Grand Inquisitor’s backstory, he didn’t say if any of that will play a big part in Obi-Wan Kenobi. The actor plays coy with this but we wouldn’t blame them if he doesn’t get a flashback on the show. After all, it’s about Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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"All will be revealed in a couple of weeks, but I can say it really helped me to have as my backstory this sense of awesome power and knowledge where he’s effectively hunting the folks he once was,” Friend reveals. “So he has all this insider information on them, and on the way that they might fight or evade capture, and that just brought an enormous kind of feeling of power beneath the performance."

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Will we get more of The Grand Inquisitor after Obi-Wan Kenobi?

Considering how cameo-filled Disney’s recent Star Wars shows have been, fans are wondering if we’ll see more of The Grand Inquisitor after Obi-Wan Kenobi. We wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being the case since Ahsoka and Boba Fett were able to get their own shows after they made cameos in The Mandalorian.

On his part, Rupert Friend said he would be open to more Star Wars appearances as Grand Inquisitor. Friend admits that it would be thrilling to return as Grand Inquisitor on other Star Wars shows. We hope Friend gets his wish, though it should make sense in the larger scheme of Star Wars.

"Well, it’s a really good point because one of the things I’m loving about seeing the Star Wars universe unfold and expand is that crossover thing. It’s seeing characters who are in a limited world, are crossing over into a movie or back into a game, even. And I think that the characters are so thoroughly created and so exciting to watch that the world lends itself to that sort of crossover. So I would be completely open to it. I loved playing the part and would love to see what happened if he were to interact. Or, if you read his kind of timeline, there are some really fascinating things where he is turned into a hologram, and he decides to jump to his own death because he says that there’s some things that are worse than death, referencing Vader’s punishment. And obviously our period doesn’t cover that. So if they decide to explore that, I would think that would be pretty thrilling."
Rupert Friend via Entertainment Weekly

Fans can check out the first episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi later this week on May 27. Like previous Star Wars shows before it, Obi-Wan Kenobi will have a weekly release so fans will have time to digest what happened and release relevant memes.