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Why Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Story Was ‘Perfect’ For A Limited Series Instead Of A Movie, According To Deborah Chow

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Why Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Story Was ‘Perfect’ For A Limited Series Instead Of A Movie, According To Deborah Chow

Star Wars brought Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen from the big screen to the small screen to reprise their prequel film roles for Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series. The project came to Disney+ after years of rumors that McGregor would star in a standalone movie similar to what the galaxy far, far away did with Solo. The actor previously shared that the plan was not always for his character to get a TV show, but director and executive producer Deborah Chow spoke with CinemaBlend about why the story was ultimately “perfect” for a series instead of a film.

The eleven live-action films of the Star Wars universe (comprised of the three trilogies, Rogue One, and Solo) all have run times of between two and three hours, with the Solo standalone coming in at a little over two. To contrast, Obi-Wan Kenobi has six episodes to tell a story. Deborah Chow weighed in on what kind of freedoms the project had with a series vs. a movie, saying:

For me, the limited format was perfect for this story, because what it gives you is, you’re still telling one story, where you can really do a beginning, middle, and end, and it is really built as one story. But you have more time. And you can spend more time with the character than you might have with a feature which might have to drive a little faster. So for the story I think that we wanted to tell, the limited format was kind of perfect.

A Star Wars film undoubtedly wouldn’t have had the time to slowly but surely show Obi-Wan getting back in touch with all the skills that had gotten very rusty over a decade in the desert without using the Force on Tatooine. There might not have been time for exploring the emotional aftermath for Ewan McGregor’s character, revealing the depth of Vader’s drive for revenge, building up Reva’s backstory as a brand new character, and delivering the kinds of prequel-era Star Wars action not seen in live-action since Revenge of the Sith in 2005. As Deborah Chow pointed out, the series format gave this story the time that it needed to really pack a punch. 

Would Obi-Wan regaining his strength as negotiator, general, and Jedi in Episode 5 have packed the same punch if we hadn’t seen the slow build? If we hadn’t seen the lows of the first episode, we wouldn’t necessarily see how far he has risen by this point. Of course, viewers knew going into this series that it wouldn’t end with a decisive win for either Obi-Wan or Vader, since that won’t happen until A New Hope. (And it’s up for debate among fans regarding which of them actually won that final lightsaber duel on the Death Star.)

Plus, Ewan McGregor hasn’t ruled out returning to play his iconic character again after what he deemed a “satisfying” story for fans, so the limited series format may have been ideal both for telling this particular story and setting up a potential next chapter. There are only so many directions that Star Wars can take Obi-Wan without contradicting canon from Star Wars Rebels and A New Hope (which Deborah Chow acknowledged as the “trickiest thing” about Obi-Wan Kenobi), but there’s plenty of wiggle room with all the unexplored years in the Star Wars timeline at this point.

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For now, you can always enjoy the Obi-Wan Kenobi (opens in new tab) limited series streaming with a Disney+ subscription, plus all the other animated and live-action Star Wars content available on the platform. More live-action shows are on the way as well, with Andor (starring Rogue One’s Diego Luna) and Ahsoka bringing back Rosario Dawson and plenty of Star Wars Rebels characters

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Better Call Saul’s Set Decorator On Knowing About That Midseason Finale Death Before The Actor Did

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Better Call Saul’s Set Decorator On Knowing About That Midseason Finale Death Before The Actor Did

Major spoilers for Better Call Saul’s latest episode, “Plan and Execution,” lie ahead, so read at your own risk.

If you’re a Better Call Saul fan like myself, then chances are you’re probably still reeling from the heartbreaking events of the midseason finale. The episode that closed out the first half of Season 6 was full of massive moments, and fans were subsequently left with a number of questions. Something that was incredibly clear coming out of the episode was the fate of Howard Hamlin, who sadly died at the hands of Lalo Salamanca. One would surely be quick to wonder how a performer approaches their character’s demise, though you also have to consider how much the crew is aware of beforehand. Well, interestingly enough, the show’s set decorator knew about the development even before series star Patrick Fabian did. 

Ashley Marsh has worked as a set decorator/buyer on Better Call Saul since the show’s debut in 2015, so she’s been around for all of the show’s major moments – including character deaths. Howard Hamlin’s may be the most tragic of them all and is honestly enough to make one want to stop watching the Breaking Bad prequel. Marsh was also sad to see Howard go in such brutal fashion, a sentiment that she expressed when we recently chatted. While revealing that she knew about the character’s fate before Patrick Fabian, she also explained whether that affected her and her team’s approach to crafting the sets that the late attorney inhabited:

I mean, yes. I probably knew before Patrick knew. Production called and said, ‘Hey, if you run into him, please don’t say anything.’ Of course, I won’t because we signed an NDA. But I am not sure how long they waited to let him know, because it changes you in your head. And that changes for me because I feel like things have to be a little bit more thought out. Because you don’t want to put anything in there that seems hopeful… but you don’t want to lead it on, either.

That’s a tricky tightrope to walk, to say the least. On the one hand, you don’t want the character’s surroundings to be too cheery, as to suggest that things are going to be fine. However, you also don’t want to lean too much into a sense of dread as to make the lawyer’s fate obvious to viewers. But ultimately, Ashley Marsh and her collaborators succeeded, because I’m not sure how many people could’ve foreseen what was in store for Howard from the jump.

Before Howard’s death, fans were able to see him in some locations that were pretty personal to him. One of those places was the Hamlin estate, which viewers only got a glimpse at from the outside in Season 5. While he was in his swanky pad, it was revealed that he’d been living in the guest house due to marital problems. Throughout the season, audiences also got to see him in his office, where he mainly met with his private investigator. There was a lack of warmth in both locations, and that was especially true for the cold-feeling Hamlin residence. Nevertheless, there were never any dead giveaways that suggested that the bane of Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler’s existence was headed out the door.

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So far, the final season of Better Call Saul has featured two massive casualties. Aside from Howard Hamlin, Michael Mando’s Ignacio “Nacho” Varga also bit the bullet. Well, more specifically (and tragically), he took a self-inflicted bullet to the head after revealing to Hector Salamanca that he caused his stroke. Like Howard’s death, it was a sad moment, though one that Mando acted out in such a masterful way.

There’s a firm chance that the critically acclaimed drama isn’t done picking off characters. Given the Breaking Bad timeline, we know that a few won’t be dying (yet), but a few others could still meet gruesome ends. I’m most worried about Kim Wexler, as was series co-creator Peter Gould. At this point, fans may want to take Ashley Marsh’s comments on Howard into consideration and look for set clues to gauge whether their favorite characters will make it out alive. 

Better Call Saul Season 6’s second half will begin airing on AMC on July 11th at 9 p.m. ET on AMC as part of the 2022 TV schedule. Those who need to catch up before seeing the final season can stream the others with a Netflix subscription.

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What Christian Bale Found ‘Very Surprising’ About Taika Waititi’s Final Cut Of Thor: Love And Thunder

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What Christian Bale Found ‘Very Surprising’ About Taika Waititi’s Final Cut Of Thor: Love And Thunder

Because of the funny roles he takes as an actor, and his recognizable comedic sensibilities, Taika Waititi is frequently lauded for his brilliant ability to make movie-goers laugh – but not to be ignored in that praise is just how terrific he is when it comes to crafting drama as a writer/director. Of the seven films he’s made, What We Do In The Shadows (which he co-directed with Jemaine Clement) is really the only straight comedy, as the other six all find ways to blend heart and emotion into the mix.

This very much includes Thor: Love And Thunder – and the shifting tones are actually something that star Christian Bale found surprising about the new film.

In the upcoming Marvel blockbuster, Bale plays the villainous Gorr The God Butcher, and the character’s story in the film is much darker and more serious than the plotline following the on-going adventures of Chris Hemsworth’s titular God of Thunder (which gets downright goofy at times). During the Thor: Love And Thunder press day this past weekend, I asked the actor about the influence that this dual tone on his performance and approach, and Bale explained that it’s an aspect of the film that he greatly appreciates and that he didn’t fully expect:

Taika [Waititi], yeah, he uses music, he uses his great sense of humor. [There’s] an absolute wonderful sincerity and emotion. It is a beautiful film. And I think people will expect it to be bloody funny, and it is, but it is also incredibly moving as well, which is very surprising.

With less than two weeks to go before the theatrical release of Thor: Love And Thunder, it would be unfair at this time to detail the precise ways that the Marvel Cinematic Universe feature balances the light and the dark – but I will note that it is something that will audiences will recognize instantly when watching the movie, as it opens with some serious and heavy drama before digging into the “cosmic fun” side of things.

Obviously it’s a very different kind of comic book movie for Christian Bale as well. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, which features Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, doesn’t feature much humor at all, and the actor was clearly impressed with Thor: Love And Thunder’s ability to balance both.

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Featuring a stacked cast including Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Christian Bale, and definitely not Tom Hiddleston, Thor: Love And Thunder will by flying into theaters everywhere on July 8 – and tickets are on sale now (opens in new tab). If you need to do some refreshing in terms of everything that has been going in the MCU to date, allow me to recommend my Marvel Movies In Order guide, and you can watch/rewatch all of the Thor and Avengers movies with a Disney+ subscription.

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Thor: Love And Thunder’s Tessa Thompson Admits Spying On Russell Crowe’s ‘Fantastic’ Thunderbolt Practice

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Thor: Love And Thunder’s Tessa Thompson Admits Spying On Russell Crowe’s ‘Fantastic’ Thunderbolt Practice

When the latest full trailer for Thor: Love And Thunder dropped in late May, it generated a lot of questions about the upcoming Marvel movie, but it also featured some cool revelations – including the fact that Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie (whose real name we don’t know just yet) is fighting with a new weapon in the blockbuster: Zeus’ thunderbolt. Behind the scenes, wielding this new godly tool required Thompson to do some special training, and she pulls off some killer moves with it on screen (as audiences will witness themselves very soon). By the actor’s own admission, however,  her skills with the bolt are nothing compared to those possessed by the MCU’s Zeus himself, Russell Crowe.

How does she know this? Not only did Tessa Thompson get to see what her co-star could do with the thunderbolt while cameras were rolling during production, but she also evidently watched him surreptitiously while he practiced with the prop outside of her on-set trailer.

As captured in the video at the top of this article, I had the pleasure of interviewing King Valkyrie herself during the Thor: Love And Thunder press day in Los Angeles this past weekend, and during our conversation I took time to ask her about the thunderbolt. She admitted that it’s not the easiest weapon to wield, and gave credit to Russell Crowe for what he was able to do with it:

No, it’s pretty hard. And to be honest, gimme a couple more months with that thunderbolt and I might have really learned some tricks. I got okay with it, but Russell Crowe is so good, and I hope he doesn’t mind that I’m saying this, but I watched him. He would rehearse sometimes outside of my trailer with it. And I would watch him Cause he is really good! He’s like so, so fantastic at it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally imagining Tessa Thompson peeking through the curtains of her trailer at an in-costume Russell Crowe throwing and twirling his prop thunderbolt around like a professional sign spinner. It’s a mental image that makes me giggle every time I conjure it.

In all seriousness, though, the passion and enthusiasm that Tessa Thompson effused for her work behind the scenes of Thor: Love and Thunder was a wonderful thing to see. On top of expressing genuine remorse that she didn’t get more time to practice with Zeus’ legendary weapon in the making of the blockbuster, she talked about bonding with her weapons in Thor: Ragnarok – the sword Dragonfang and her two daggers – and explained that she created a kind of intimacy with them. She continued,

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That’s the thing: you spend… I remember when I had Dragon Fang and I was first training with that weapon and my two daggers, I would spend so much time you become intimate with them in a way. So the Thunderbolt was fun to wield, but it’s not my weapon, so I forgive myself for not being perfect at it.

The funny irony of this is that the relationship between a hero and their weapon of choice is actually a running joke in Thor: Love and Thunder, and while I won’t spoil the details of it in this forum, Tessa Thompson explained that the gag was something that wholly developed on set:

That is like the funniest thing, ’cause that was actually something that really developed in the course of shooting the film, and then seeing it last night especially it works like a charm. It’s just like so, so funny.

Audiences will get on this inside of this joke very soon, as Thor: Love And Thunder is now less than two weeks away from release (and buzz about the blockbuster is already growing). The Taika Waititi-directed Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster, starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, and Tessa Thompson, arrives in theaters everywhere on July 8 – and tickets are on sale now (opens in new tab).

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