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Star Wars Creative Director Doug Chiang Answers All Our Obi-Wan Kenobi Questions



Watch: How the Vision of Tatooine Was Created for Obi-Wan Kenobi

There are Star Wars experts, and then there’s Doug Chiang

The Star Wars creative director has spent more than 25 years in a galaxy far, far away and recently worked as the production designer on Obi-Wan Kenobistarring Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen—premiering May 27 on Disney+.

In 1995, Chiang was personally selected by Star Wars creator George Lucas to be the head of the Lucasfilm art department. Chiang spearheaded 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and 2002’s Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones before leaving to start his own design studio, IceBlink Studios, where he worked with Steven Spielberg on War of the Worlds

He later moved to Disney where he served as production designer on movies like The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol


Chiang returned to Lucasfilm and the Star Wars universe in 2015, when he worked on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the time since, he’s overseen creative designs for all Star Wars properties, including 2015’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the Star Wars live-action series The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and now, of course, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

For all of the juicy details about what to expect from Obi-Wan, Anakin, Tatooine and more, read on for a conversation with the man himself.

Get even more Obi-Wan content with E!’s new digital series While You Were Streaming, which you can find @enews on Twitter.

First Look Images of Obi-Wan Kenobi

E! News: The Star Wars fans already know who you are. But for all of those newbies out there, would you be so kind as to introduce yourself? And tell us a little bit about what you do on Obi-Wan Kenobi?

Doug Chiang: I am the Vice President and Executive Director for Lucasfilm and a production designer and co-producer for Obi-Wan Kenobi. On Obi-Wan Kenobi, I was essentially charged with designing the look, the characters, the environments, all the sets and the planets. It was actually quite an amazing endeavor because Obi-Wan Kenobi bridges the prequels with the original trilogy. It was a really wonderful opportunity to actually blend the aesthetics of Tatooine from where we saw it in the prequels to where we saw it in the original trilogy. There was obviously about a 20 year period. How did the planet evolve and how do we make it distinct for Obi-Wan Kenobi?


E!: There’s such a Star Wars fan geek-out moment in the trailer when young Luke Skywalker looks so much like Anakin.

DC: One of our biggest challenges was, of course, how to portray a young Luke Skywalker. What did the homestead look like with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen? It was really interesting because not a lot changes on Tatooine. It’s a pretty timeless environment. Our challenge was to make it so that it was still very familiar to the fans of the original trilogy, with an update to bring something new to it. I think Luke was a really fun example of that, where we tried to imbue a lot of that nostalgia into his character and into the design of ‘What would a young Luke be doing on the homestead?’

E!: When you found out that they were going to be doing a standalone series for Obi-Wan Kenobi, what was your initial reaction?

DC: I was really thrilled. Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of my favorite characters and to actually learn more about his character and what happened between the prequels and the original trilogy was always something that I was really curious about. Obi-Wan Kenobi is very endearing because he’s one of the last remaining characters from George Lucas. We were very protective of making sure that we were very respectful to the character development. What would that be? What would his evolution be? What was his motivation during this period? Obviously when we see him in A New Hope, he’s a completely different person and we want to really learn ‘OK, what happened during those 20 years?’

E!: Not only were you the production designer on Obi-Wan Kenobi, you also were involved in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. They have very different looks. How would you say Obi-Wan Kenobi differs from those other two standalone series?

DC: Our challenge was that we’re all in the same sort of time period. You know, we’re all within like 10 or 20 years. One of the great things about what George Lucas did for designing the world and the universe of Star Wars is that there’s a very distinct visual vocabulary of what the aesthetic should be. We really lean into that. When I started working with George Lucas in 1995, we laid down that foundation so that we anchored the whole Star Wars universe. All six films at that time had a very specific timeline, so that when you look at each film, you can identify exactly where in the Star Wars timeline those films existed. I took all that knowledge and basically started to really figure out ‘OK, since Obi-Wan Kenobi was going to be here 10 years earlier and The Mandalorian was actually another 10 years-plus-seven-years after Obi-Wan Kenobi, what would that be? What would the changes be of the aesthetic?’

The bottom line is a lot of the architecture doesn’t change a lot. It’s really the spaceships and the characters and the costumes and the hairstyles. So that’s kind of what we focused on, the character development to distinguish the two. The Mandalorian is a really interesting challenge because it’s obviously grounded in the same Star Wars universe. It takes place easily 15 years after Obi-Wan Kenobi, but the great opportunity for us is that we’re now visiting other planets. Same with Obi-Wan Kenobi. We had a wonderful opportunity to not only visit Tatooine, but to explore two other new planets. What can those new planets be? One of our guiding foundations is always to ground our new planets in reality; to ground 80% of it in our real world to make it authentic. That 20% is what makes it special. It’s what makes it uniquely Star Wars, and it’s also what makes it uniquely Obi-Wan Kenobi.

E!: You were involved in Episodes I and II. Was there anything that you weren’t able to accomplish or put into those films that you had a second chance at when it came to the Obi-Wan series?

DC: One of the great things about working with George Lucas in 1995 is that we kind of established and built this huge, vast universe and George only took a small portion of that for the prequels. So there’s a lot of unused ideas. For Obi-Wan Kenobi, we actually had a really fun opportunity to bring some of those ideas and actually realize them. One of them is Tatooine. We never really saw [Tatooine settlement] Anchorhead being developed and it was a really great thing because it was always referenced and hinted at. Everybody talked about Anchorhead but we never saw it. For Obi-Wan Kenobi, we finally had an opportunity to actually visit Anchorhead and establish what that looked like.


E!: When it comes to your involvement on Obi-Wan Kenobi, what has been the most rewarding part for you?

DC: I would have to say one of the most exciting aspects about working on Obi-Wan Kenobi was [director] Deborah Chow. I mean, she was just terrific. In my first meetings with her, I just knew that she got it. She understood the character really well. It was fun to sort of see Star Wars through her eyes. One of the great things about what I do now is I get to oversee designs for all of our franchise films, and I get to work with many different filmmakers. I get to see and experience that through their eyes and Deborah was such a treat because I worked with her on The Mandalorian for season one, and she had a spark to her that was just amazing. When we started working together on Obi-Wan Kenobi, that spark just grew, and I could see the fire in her. What I really loved was that she was very decisive. Her vision was so strong early on, she came to me with a playlist of imagery that she wanted to explore. There were really strong, powerful images and I could see that those could become Star Wars images. The task was to really get in sort of mental sync with Deborah and work on what she wanted to envision for the environments independent of character development. It was really building a world that kind of satisfied her requirements. I used her founding imagery as a basis for a lot of development for all the worlds. I would have to say I surprised myself because where she took it was really terrific.

E!: Which episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi are you most excited to for fans to see come to life?

DC: It’s really hard to say. There are six of them and each one is very distinct. Each one has a very specific requirement, and each one was a very distinct challenge. As mundane as it may seem, Tatooine was really challenging because we were so familiar with it. How do we put our spin on it? How do we make it fresh for the fans? Tatooine is definitely one of those because it grounds all of our Star Wars films because every time all of our projects, we go back to that planet and we want to bring it into a new light show, a new aspect of Tatooine in a new way.


Ewan McGregor’s Star Wars Hair Evolution

E!: Is there an on-set secret or a little Easter egg that you want to point out to the fans, anything that you purposely put in there?

DC: That’s a that’s a really hard one because there are so many Easter eggs that we always try to put in these things. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and I love to pay respect to all of that. In designing a lot of these projects, we always try plant a little seed of something just for us. Maybe no other fans will see it, but I know it’s there.

E!: What do you hope that Star Wars fans take away from Obi-Wan Kenobi?

DC: When they see Obi-Wan Kenobi, I hope fans get the excitement that I get when I work on these projects. Unfortunately, I can’t enjoy it as a fan because I know all the spoilers. I know everything that’s going to happen. So it always takes me a good four to five years. But one of the wonderful things is that this is a terrific story, a terrific character, a terrific world. I hope fans can just enjoy it and see it as a story of a character that they’ve loved forever and learn more about him.

Don’t miss a brand new episode of E! News’ digital series, While You Were Streaming, on Tuesday, May 31, at 9 a.m. PT on Twitter @enews! We’ll be recapping the biggest moments from Stranger Things season four.

Source: Eonline

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