Star Wars fans were floored on Wednesday when Liam Neeson made his return to a galaxy far, far away in the series finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+.
In the closing moment of the Star Wars miniseries, Neeson returned (in live-action form, as he did voice the character in Star Wars: The Clone Wars) to the franchise for the first time since Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) as Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn. It had been teased since the premiere episode that Qui-Gon might make an appearance, but there was never any guarantee. And given how much time has passed since Neeson last played the character, it was hard to determine his interest in donning his Jedi robes one more time.
The Academy Award-nominated actor told The Hollywood Reporter that his decision to return to the franchise was for a number of reasons.
“I certainly didn’t want anyone else playing Qui-Gon Jinn, and I wanted to show my respect for George [Lucas] and that mythical world that he created,” Neeson told THR. “Plus, Ewan [McGregor] is a pal, and I loved working with him during The Phantom Menace 25 years ago.”
Lucasfilm Ltd./Courtesy Everett Collection
In the 1999 film, Qui-Gon was Obi-Wan’s master, and through a series of events, the pair of Jedi found Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) on Tatooine. Not long after helping to secure Anakin’s freedom, Qui-Gon was killed during a lightsaber duel with Darth Maul (Ray Park).
Neeson has noted in years past that he was always a fan of the film and tuned out the initial criticism, which has since subsided with a generation of fans being quite fond of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
“I like [Phantom Menace],” Neeson told Andy Cohen on SiriusXM channel Radio Andy in 2020. “I am proud of it and proud to have been a part of it. I got to be a Jedi. I got to play with those wonderful lightsabers and stuff. It was terrific, Andy, it really was.”
As for Neeson’s return to the franchise, fans have been waiting with bated breath ever since Yoda [Frank Oz] told Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith that he would teach him how to connect with his late master’s Force ghost. On Wednesday, that planted seed finally bloomed.
The entire Obi-Wan Kenobi series is streaming now on Disney+.