It’s easy to forget, in part because it largely happened before the echo chamber that is social media, but the Star Wars prequels received a ton of hate when they released – stuff that, in all honesty, would probably make the recent dialogue about some of the modern Star Wars projects look tame by comparison.
And as the hate swelled, it was incredibly hard on the actors to see and take after pouring so much of themselves into it. Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, who are both reprising their roles for the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series, recently opened up to Entertainment Weekly about how difficult of a period it was.
“I found it quite hard,” McGregor said. “For it to come out and get knocked so hard was personally quite difficult to deal with. And also, it was quite early in my career. I didn’t really know how to deal with that. I’d been involved with things that just didn’t make much of a ripple, but that’s different from making something that makes a negative ripple.”
Christensen chimed in as well, saying that, “When the films came out and the critics were very critical, of course that was a difficult thing — because you care so much about this thing that you’ve invested so much of yourself into. So, for sure, that’s challenging.” After the backlash of the prequels, Christensen took a break from acting and became a farmer in Canada (Really, farming? A man of his talents?).
It is important for the Star Wars fandom to stop and understand what is happening here: we stand on the brink of the most anticipated Star Wars project in years, and it’s one that reunites two of the biggest stars from the prequel trilogy and is in many ways a direct continuation of that prequel story. And this is despite the fact that it received a significant amount of hate from Star Wars “fans” at the time of its release. And now it’s beloved.
Now you’ve got people who consider Revenge of the Sith to be the greatest Star Wars movie. Now you’ve got people who consider Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala to be their biggest Star Wars heroes. Now you’ve got people who have such positive emotional responses and reception to the prequel trilogy. And do you know why? Because the generation of fans who were kids at the time those movies released are grown now, and these movies are their Star Wars. Part of the magical appeal of this franchise is that it has managed to appeal to people across generational lines, but make no mistake: it’s always been aimed at kids. That was in the very DNA of what George Lucas was trying to do. And so in the prequel trilogy he was introducing a new generation of fans to Star Wars – and it worked!
Sixteen years after the original trilogy ended, a new trilogy started. It was hated by many at the time, and has become more and more loved in the years since, especially as that generation of fans grew into adulthood.
Well, guess what? These things are cyclical. Because ten years after the prequel trilogy ended, a new trilogy started. It was hated by many at the time, but soon it will become more and more loved in the years to come, as a new generation of fans grow into adulthood. It’s pathetically humorous, really, how some of the biggest prequel defenders today are some of the most ardent sequel haters today, as if they totally forget (or, more likely, were too young to remember) the hate the prequels got at the time. They have become the very thing they swore to destroy.
As Obi-Wan Kenobi comes out, we can look forward with excitement to the day where the stars of the sequel trilogy will return to thunderous applause, because the generation of fans that grew up with it will view it as their Star Wars. This is the way it’s always been, and it’s the way it will continue to be.
“Now I meet the people who we made those films for, who were the kids of the time,” McGregor said. “And our Star Wars films are their Star Wars films. In the way that Carrie Fisher and Alec Guinness and Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford’s films were ours, we’re theirs. And that’s beautiful that they were important to the kids who we made them for. It’s just so nice to finally get that wave of positivity about them.”