(Image credit: Lucasfilm)
In recent days there’s been something of a debate surrounding Star Wars and the best way to carry classic characters forward into modern stories. Recent comments made by Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy seem to indicate that going forward we’re likely to see Star Wars characters recreated with CGI rather than recasting with new actors. But before that was possible, Ewan McGregor was cast in the role once held by Sir Alec Guinness to play Obi-Wan Kenobi. But what would it have looked like if the new Disney+ series tried to use CGI to recreate Alec Guinness?
Recently, Stryder HD seemed to try and answer that exact question, by taking scenes from the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series, and using deepfake technology to make Ewan McGregor more closely resemble a younger Alec Guinness. Take a look and see what you think.
It’s an interesting look to say the least. I’m not sure it works all that well, but some of that is to be chalked up to the tech. At the same time, maybe this really shows just how good the casting of Ewan McGregor was, he looks remarkably like Alec Guinness. Although, Alec Guinness, even younger, would still have more lines in his face. Deepfakes always look oddly smooth, and nobody’s face, no matter how young, really looks that smooth.
To be sure, if this was attempted by Lucasfilm, the look would probably work a little better. It’s hard to argue that the recent work to bring Luke Skywalker back in The Mandalorian is not technically impressive. It may not be entirely there yet, but it works a lot better than a lot of people thought it would.
It’s an interesting thought experiment to wonder how creating a young Obi-Wan Kenobi might have been handled in the prequel era if this sort of technology had existed. It probably wouldn’t have worked for a character as important, and prominent, as Obi-Wan was in the prequels. Because there’s still a bit of “uncanny valley” in these situations, showing these characters in brief moments on screen, as was done with Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One, is usually best.
Still, this sort of thing does look like the future of Star Wars. Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy recently made comments about the difficulty the studio has had recasting popular characters, specifically, Solo: A Star Wars Story. Rather than simply not use these characters, it seems the plan is to use new technology to recreate them as needed.
Of course, Ewan McGregor shows that recasting can work just fine. For a generation that grew up with the prequels rather than the original trilogy, he is Obi-Wan Kenobi even more than Alec Guinness is. Of course, if Star Wars needs a prequel era Obi-Wan in live action for any reason, than McGregor will likely be the one getting his face CGI’d on somebody else.