20 Things You Never Knew About Obi-Wan Kenobi
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Perhaps no other Jedi is as renowned in the Star Wars universe as the wise Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Since his first appearance back in 1977, Obi-Wan has appeared in some way, shape, or form in all of the live action films in the main series. With his track record, Kenobi has no doubt earned his place as one of the most loved characters in all of Star Wars fandom.
With so much of his history well known at this point, many fans may feel that they know everything there is to know about Old Ben Kenobi. As with any character in the Star Wars universe, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Between his appearances in the films, television shows, novels, and comic books, there is a plethora of information out there on this Jedi Knight just waiting to be uncovered.
So let’s all try to be civilized here, and take a moment to discover 20 Things You Never Knew About Obi-Wan Kenobi.
20. JON STEWART HELPED NAME OBI-WAN’S HOME PLANET
To say that the Star Wars universe is vast would be an understatement. The amount of planets that exist within the galaxy is essentially infinite with many major characters hailing from places never spoken in the films or expanded universe material. Take Obi-Wan Kenobi for example, we never visit his home planet or even hear mention of it, and it wouldn’t be until Jon Stewart asked George Lucas himself about the subject that we would get an answer.
During the 2010 fan convention, Celebration V in Orlando, Florida, comedian and television host, Jon Stewart was given the opportunity to interview the creator of the Star Wars saga himself, George Lucas. When Stewart asked George Lucas what planet Obi-Wan Kenobi was from, the mastermind behind the Star Wars Universe replied, “He comes from the planet Stewjon.”
Now Stewjon, obviously a play on the former host of The Daily Show’s own name may sound like nothing more than a joke, Lucas trying to have a little fun with his fans, but this now seems to be taken as canon. According to the official encyclopedia entry for Obi-Wan Kenobi on StarWars.com, Stewjon is the famed Jedi Knight’s home planet!
19. OBI-WAN’S DEFIANT YOUTH
When most Star Wars fans think of Obi-Wan Kenobi, they remember him as the textbook Jedi Knight, always following the rules and always doing what was right. As it turns out, this wasn’t always the case and Obi-Wan was known to be quite defiant in his earlier years.
The young Obi-Wan Kenobi was noted in his youth for having a dry sense of humor and a bit of a sarcastic edge to him. It’s a little odd to imagine the Sir Alec Guinness version of the character as being a sarcastic jokester, but Ewan McGregor’s portrayal definitely showed a bit of this defiance.
During his early training as a Jedi Initiate under Master Yoda, the wise green Jedi exclaimed that he sensed his master’s defiance in him. Qui Gon Jinn was known throughout the Jedi Order to be a bit of a radical in terms of his views, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he took the young, defiant Obi-Wan under his wing.
As we all know, Obi-Wan eventually learned to control his emotions and became one of the most well-respected Jedi in the galaxy.
18. HE WAS A SKILLED PILOT
The Prequel Trilogy made it a point to depict Obi-Wan as not being the biggest fan of flying, often leading to light-hearted banter between him and Anakin Skywalker. Contrary to what Anakin would often say to his Jedi Master, Obi-Wan was actually a skilled pilot who was truly gifted with machines. In fact, as a youngling, Obi-Wan could often be found building models and dreaming of the day he could be a pilot himself, flying around the galaxy.
As it turns out, Obi-Wan would get the opportunity to pursue those dreams of being a pilot as a Jedi Knight during the Clone Wars. His skills as a pilot and with machines may have been better than some people remember, but he never quite reached the level of skill of his Padawan, Anakin Skywalker. Still, Obi-Wan was a good enough pilot to earn the call sign of Red Leader during the Battle of Coruscant.
While he did eventually grow to be less fond of flying as the years went on, his skill with repairing machinery would continue to serve him well during his missions as a Jedi Knight.
17. HE ALMOST WASN’T SELECTED AS A PADAWAN
Obi-Wan Kenobi is often remembered as one of the greatest Jedi Knights of his era. With that in mind, it may come as somewhat of a shock to learn that the great Jedi was almost left behind as a Jedi Initiate after no Jedi Knight seemed to be willing to take him on as a Padawan.
While his potential was clear to everyone within the Order, his erratic behavior led many Jedi to be weary of pursuing the young Kenobi as a Padawan. During a sparring session at the Jedi Temple, Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn took notice of Obi-Wan’s resilience and ferocity. Jinn, a maverick of the Jedi Order in his own right, was impressed by Kenobi’s determination, but still felt he was too dangerous to take on as a Padawan.
It wasn’t until Jinn found himself trapped on the mining planet of Bandomeer that he truly saw the potential in a partnership with Kenobi. Forced to work together to survive, the pair discovered that they worked quite well as a team and the rest, as they say, is history.
16. TEMPORARILY LEAVING THE JEDI ORDER
As one of the most decorated generals within the Grand Army of the Republic, Kenobi was renowned as one of the most dedicated members of the Jedi Order. With this in mind, many fans wouldn’t expect that the great Obi-Wan Kenobi once left the Jedi Order to pursue a personal mission.
After getting caught up in the middle of a planet-wide civil war on Melida/Daan, Kenobi made the only decision he felt he could and stayed to help end the conflict. The warring factions of Melida and Daan had been fighting for so many years that they had forgot what the conflict was about in the first place.
Eventually, Obi-Wan realized that he didn’t belong in the middle of the civil war and he made the decision to return to the Jedi Order and to his master, Qui Gon Jinn. While Jinn was willing to take Kenobi back as his Padawan, Kenobi’s exile from the Order led to a feeling of distrust between the two.
15. THE NEGOTIATOR
While he was recognized throughout the galaxy for his skills as a swordsman, Obi-Wan Kenobi often found ways to resolve conflicts without the use of his trusty lightsaber.
A master of the Soresu, the most defensive form of lightsaber combat, Kenobi was often regarded as exemplifying the most pure understanding of Jedi philosophy. In true Jedi fashion, Kenobi often only resorted to the use of his lightsaber as a last resort. In many instances, Kenobi found ways to end a conflict before a fight broke out at all. This uncanny ability to end battles before they start led many throughout the galaxy to bestow upon Kenobi the title of “The Negotiator.”
The title was first uttered by General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith and was later used again in Ultimate Star Wars, a reference book containing information about characters, planets, creatures and more. It may not be the most fear-inducing nickname of all time, but “The Negotiator” was the perfect title for the great Obi-Wan Kenobi.
14. HIS FIGHTING STYLE EVOLVED WITH THE FILMS
When it comes to lightsaber skills, Obi-Wan was highly regarded as one of the best in the galaxy. In his prime, he was able to defeat numerous powerful adversaries such as Darth Maul, General Grievous, as well as a pre-cyborg Darth Vader. While he was mainly known as the master of the third form of traditional lightsaber combat, Soresu wasn’t the only one of the seven forms Obi-Wan would employ on-screen.
Obi-Wan’s master as a Padawan was the maverick Jedi, Qui Gon Jinn, a skilled swordsman in his own right who had numerous experience sparring with Mace Windu and his own master, Count Dooku. Along with Master Yoda, Jinn was known to be one of the most skilled Ataru specialists of his day, the fourth of the seven traditional forms of lightsaber combat. As his Padawan, Obi-Wan also favored this style during his younger days as Jinn’s apprentice.
Ataru’s wild, acrobatic fighting style suited the younger Kenobi, as seen on full display during his duel with Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. After the fall of his master, however, Obi-Wan adopted the more defensive focused Soresu style that he would utilize to great effect for the rest of his days. His preferred fighting style afterwards was a melding of Form III’s defensive posture with some of Form IV’s offensive flourishes.
13. THE MASTER OF SORESU
“I am called a great swordsman because I invented a lethal style; but who is greater, the creator of a killing form—or the master of the classic form?” ― Mace Windu to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
While his fighting style incorporated other forms, there’s no denying that Kenobi was best known for his mastery over the third traditional form of lightsaber combat. Soresu was developed to compensate for the lack of the second form’s defensive capabilities. Essentially, a Soresu practitioner would seek to become an impenetrable defensive force.
After his master’s fall at the hands of Darth Maul, Obi-Wan began to doubt his choice to follow in Qui Gon Jinn’s offensive-minded Ataru style. His response, was the beginning of an extended study in the ways of Soresu.
Perhaps the greatest example of Kenobi’s mastery over the Soresu form came in his climactic duel with his former apprentice, Darth Vader on the volcanic planet of Mustafar. Knowing he would be hard-pressed to overpower the rage-filled Vader’s Djem So onslaught, Kenobi opted to battle defensively, strategically moving the battle to a more favorable location. The result was Obi-Wan’s now famous high ground advantage besting Darth Vader’s arrogance.
If nothing else, Master Jedi Mace Windu himself, generally considered to be arguably the greatest duelist of all time said that Kenobi wasn’t simply a master of Soresu, but rather, the master of Soresu, someone truly one with the form.
12. SUCCEEDING WITHOUT HIS LIGHTSABER
While Kenobi was known as one of the most formidable warriors with a lightsaber, he was no slouch without one either. When first describing the weapon of a Jedi Knight to Luke Skywalker on Tatooine, he remarks that they are not as clumsy and uncivilized as a blaster. While he did not prefer to use blasters, that didn’t mean he didn’t know how to use one. He showed off his skill as a marksman in both his fight against General Grievous as well as his time disguised as the bounty hunter, Rako Hardeen, where he successfully utilized a sniper rifle.
Along with his proficiency with blaster technology, Obi-Wan also proved on numerous occasions that he knew how to handle himself in unarmed combat as well. Against Jango Fett on Kamino, Kenobi temporarily lost his lightsaber but was able to hold his own against the skilled bounty hunter. Perhaps even more impressively, during his fight with Pre Vizsla, Kenobi was able to defeat the leader of Death Watch with nothing more than his bare hands.
11. OBI-WAN UNDERSTOOD MANY LANGUAGES
When watching a Star Wars film, you may be surprised to learn that the language the characters are speaking on-screen isn’t actually any language known to exist on Earth. While it may sound like English (or whatever language the film has been dubbed into) the most common language spoken in the Star Wars universe is actually called Galactic Basic. The idea of Galactic Basic allows a single fictional language to encompass any dubbed version of the film.
While Galactic Basic was by far the most common language spoken by Kenobi, this was far from the extent of his linguistic capabilities. Given his experience as a general in the Republic army during the Clone Wars, Kenobi visited a wide array of planets and interacted with individuals from countless species.
In fact, Obi-Wan was capable of understanding at least five different languages including Twi’leki and Shyriiwook. His ability to understand the latter, the language of the Wookies, would play a crucial role in Kenobi’s negotiations with the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca.
10. HE FELL IN LOVE WITH ANOTHER JEDI
In Kenobi’s younger years, he met an attractive young Jedi Padawan named Siri Tachi. The two instantly connected and began working together on various missions with their respective Jedi masters, Qui Gon Jinn and Adi Gallia. Over the course of their missions, they began to realize their true feelings for one another but eventually decided to do what the Order would instruct them to do and buried their feelings for one another. This caused an eventual rift in their friendship that they were never truly able to repair.
In the films, Kenobi was generally shown to be the quintessential, level-headed Jedi so the fact that he went against the Jedi’s code and fell in love shows another level to the character. He wasn’t always the perfect Jedi that we saw on screen and that makes his character far more relatable.
What’s even more noteworthy is the way this affects Obi-Wan’s relationship with Anakin. When Obi-Wan sees Anakin’s growing feelings for Padme, he explains to him how dangerous those feelings can be. With this Star Wars Legends story in mind, no longer is it merely a teacher scolding a student to follow the rules, but rather, a friend passing on advice learned from experience.
9. A JEDI KNIGHT FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS
When Obi-Wan defeated Darth Maul at the end of their battle in The Phantom Menace, it was a historic moment in the history of the Jedi Order. As discussed in the film, the Sith had not been seen anywhere in the galaxy for many years, so the appearance of Darth Maul was a shocking revelation for the Jedi Council.
Obi-Wan’s defeat of the Zabrak warrior would make him the first Jedi to best a Sith Lord in a thousand years. As if that wasn’t enough, this defeat proved to be the moment that Kenobi would advance from a Jedi Padawan to a Jedi Knight. This itself would mark the first time a Padawan would be granted the title of Jedi Knight without being required to pass the Jedi trials.
The council rightfully decided that Kenobi’s ability to defeat a Sith the likes of Darth Maul, a warrior capable of defeating an experienced Jedi such as Qui Gon Jinn, made Obi-Wan more than worthy of being regarded as a full-fledged Jedi Knight.
8. POSSESSED UNIQUE FORCE ABILITIES
The Force works in mysterious ways and it manifests itself in a variety of different skills and abilities that are often seen used by Jedi and Sith alike. The most common Force abilities we see are things like Force pushes and telekinetic abilities that allow the user to manipulate objects around them. Obi-Wan has used his fair share of Force enhanced capabilities, most famously the Jedi mind trick in the first film.
Using the power of the Force to manipulate the weak-minded wasn’t the only Force ability Obi-Wan used while still planetside on Tatooine. In fact, the first thing you hear from Obi-Wan was a Force assisted animal call. That’s right, one of Obi-Wan’s official Force abilities is his ability to imitate the sound of an animal, in this case a krayt dragon.
As if manipulating people’s minds and using a Force-assisted animal call wasn’t enough to prove how powerful Obi-Wan was with the Force, let’s not forget how he was able to use the Force to tame beasts during the Prequel Trilogy.
7. SAVING 12 YEAR OLD LUKE SKYWALKER
Do you remember when Luke Skywalker first stumbled upon Leia’s message for Obi-Wan Kenobi on R2-D2? Surely you do, but did you notice that Luke already appeared to know who “Old Ben Kenobi” was? To help clear things up, a Korean comic book creator came up with a web comic story that is now considered part of the new canon and explains Obi-Wan’s first meeting with a young Luke Skywalker.
It was another uneventful, doubly sunny day on Tatooine, when suddenly, a krayt dragon appeared and tried to attack a 12 year old Luke Skywalker. Luckily for the future Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi had been watching over him and slayed the beast, saving young Luke. He introduced himself and took the boy home to his uncle.
6. HELPING LUKE BUILD HIS GREEN LIGHTSABER
When Luke Skywalker shows up in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi there’s something distinctly different about him. Gone was the young farm boy looking for adventure and before us stood a powerful Jedi Knight.
When he pulled out his now famous green lightsaber for the first time, it was surely a shock to some fans. Turns out, between the events of the duel with his father on Cloud City and his rescue of Han Solo, Luke found the time to construct a new lightsaber. Many wonder how he was able to do so, but it turns out the answer is with a little help from Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Sure Obi-Wan was defeated by Darth Vader towards the end of the second act of A New Hope, but that never stopped him from helping out Luke when he needed it most. When the time came for Luke to construct his own lightsaber, an important rite of passage for any Jedi Knight, he went to Obi-Wan’s hut on Tatooine. There he found the remaining parts and instructions that he needed to create his own lightsaber powered by a synthetic kyber crystal.
While there’s no way to prove this at the moment, some fans believe that the green crystal used by Luke once belonged to none other than Obi-Wan’s former master, Qui Gon Jinn.
5. OBI-WAN’S RELATIONSHIP WITH DUCHESS SATINE
One of Obi-Wan’s first notable assignments as a Padawan was to protect the Duchess of Mandalore, Satine Kryze. Obi-Wan and his master Qui Gon Jinn were tasked with protecting the Duchess from insurgents sent to assassinate her. Obi-Wan and Satine grew close over the years and began to develop romantic feelings towards one another.
Still, when Darth Maul made his way to Mandalore, he knew the perfect way to finally get his revenge against Obi-Wan was thru Satine. Maul would eventually murder the Duchess in front of Obi-Wan, who would quickly rush to Satine’s side. As she laid dying in Kenobi’s arms, she finally confessed her undying love for her beloved Jedi Master saying that she always loved him and always will.
4. NUMEROUS ARTIFACTS ARE NAMED AFTER HIM
As a renowned Jedi, it should come as little surprise that the legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi would run deep, outliving the Jedi’s physical existence. In fact, many artifacts ranging from awards to starships are named after the master Jedi.
The “Obi-Wan” for example was the first of a new class of Star Destroyer to be commissioned by the New Republic. The “Kenobi Offensive” was the name given to a starship maneuver that was credited to Obi-Wan where a series of sniping attacks were utilized to draw the enemy out of formation.
After the Battle of Yavin that ended in the destruction of the first Death Star, the Kenobi Medallion was commissioned as an award bestowed upon those members of the Alliance that displayed acts of great bravery. Two notable recipients of the award were Rebel Pilot Jek Porkins for his actions during the Battle of Yavin itself as well as Sergeant Reye Hollis for his work during the Battle of Hoth.
Even if he may have perished, it’s nice to see that the Alliance felt compelled to honor someone the great Jedi for his continued years of service.
3. ALEC GUINNESS POSSESSES THE ONLY ACTING-RELATED STAR WARS OSCAR NOMINATION
Throughout the saga’s now eight live-action feature films, there has only been a single acting-related nomination. This honor belongs to the original Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, Sir Alec Guinness.
Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford may all be well known actors today, but they were relatively brand new to the industry in the late 1970’s. As far as experienced actors go, Peter Cushing, who played Grand Moff Tarkin was well known for his roles in the Hammer horror films and of course, decorated stage and film actor, Sir Alec Guinness.
While the Star Wars saga has left the Academy Awards winning numerous honors for music composition and various technical awards, Guinness’ performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first film, for which he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, stands to this day as the only instance of a Star Wars actor receiving such a designation.
2. OBI-WAN ALMOST LEFT THE JEDI ORDER WITH ANAKIN
One series of comic books followed the early adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, long before their falling out on Mustafar. Over the course of the five issue limited series, a young Anakin Skywalker began to feel doubts about his place within the Jedi Order. After speaking with Chancellor Palpatine, Anakin became uncomfortable with the fact that his whole life had seemingly been decided for him at the age of nine. When he was contemplating leaving the Jedi Order, Obi-Wan, determined to keep his promise to his dying master, Qui Gon Jinn, claimed he would leave with him in order to continue his training.
While this ultimately led to nothing, it’s worth noting that Obi-Wan’s loyalty to Anakin and perhaps more so, his dedication to his fallen master was at least at this moment in time, stronger than his dedication to the Jedi Order itself.
1. THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH EWAN MCGREGOR’S FAMILY
When Ewan McGregor was cast as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi for 1999’s release of The Phantom Menace, it wouldn’t be the first time a member of his family would take part in a Star Wars feature. McGregor’s maternal uncle, Denis Lawson, was also strong with the ways of the Force, famously playing Wedge Antilles during the Original Trilogy.
According to McGregor, he was initially hesitant to pursue the role of Kenobi, thinking a big-budget Star Wars film was beyond him, as at this point in his career his roles mostly consisted of British independent films. In fact, he even sought out advice from his uncle who warned McGregor that taking on the role could jeopardize the rest of his career, fearing he would wind up being pigeon-holed by the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Thankfully for McGregor and Star Wars fans everywhere, he didn’t listen to his uncle and would go on to not only be one of the best parts of the entire Prequel Trilogy but also an extremely successful actor beyond the franchise as well.