Was Obi-Wan Kenobi's Death In 'Star Wars' Sir Alec Guinness' Idea?

Patricia Didelot

When Obi-Wan Kenobi was killed in Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker was devastated, but did Sir Alec Guinness himself suggest the character's demise to George Lucas?

The urban legend has been around almost as long as the 1977 blockbuster has and thousands still believe that is what happened when Darth Vader ended the Master Jedi's life with his lightsaber. However, the idea was born even before Lucas and Guinness knew exactly how the plot would evolve.

It is a known fact that Sir Alec Guinness didn't much care for his role in the original trilogy, which he referred to as "rubbish" for the bad dialogue. After all, the veteran British actor had a stellar movie career during which he played many legendary roles and he had not anticipated younger generations taking to his character so much that he would only be known for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Alec Guinness kept a diary in which he wrote of much of his experiences while filming the movies, especially Star Wars: A New Hope and wrote to his friend Anne Kaufman about the production.

"Can't say I'm enjoying the film. New rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wadges of pink paper — and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable. I just think, thankfully, of the lovely bread, which will help me to keep going until next April... I must be off to studio and work with a dwarf (very sweet — and he has to wash in a bidet) and your fellow countrymen Mark Hamill and Tennyson (that can't be right) Ford. Ellison (? — no!) — well, a rangy, languid young man who is probably intelligent and amusing. But oh, God, God, they make me feel 90 — and treat me as if I was 106 — Oh, Harrison Ford, ever heard of him?"

"What I didn't tell Lucas was that I just couldn't go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines. I'd had enough of the mumbo jumbo." a frustrated Guinness said at the time.

In the end, the answer to the question of who came up with the idea to kill Obi-Wan in the first Star Wars film, originated with creator George Lucas. The script underwent several revisions in which the Jedi had a more significant role, however, by the fourth draft -- dated January 15, 1976 -- it had been decided that the evil Darth Vader killed Obi-Wan Kenobi.

According to Comic Book Resources, even as Alec Guinness was brought on board, George Lucas wasn't sure what Obi-Wan's fate would be. Once again, the British actor wrote on his diary.

"Irritated by Lucas saying he hadn't made up his mind whether to kill off my part or not. A bit late for such decisions. And Harrison Ford referring to me as Mother Superior didn't help."

[Image via Lucasfilm]