'Obi-Wan Kenobi' 's Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen on 'Nice' Fan Reactions to 'Star Wars' Prequels

The Obi-Wan Kenobi stars open about new fan appreciation for their original Star Wars appearances in 2002's Episode II and 2005's Episode III

Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen have been working in Hollywood long enough to know they can't please everyone with everything they make or in which they appear.

One previously sensitive spot for both the Star Wars alums was their high profile work in Star Wars: Episode II and III (2002's Attack of the Clones and 2005's Revenge of the Sith), which didn't receive great reviews at the time of their release.

20 years later, however, that perception has changed for the better as a new generation of fans are discovering (some re-discovering) and more fully embracing the earlier films which, despite critical consensus, went on to make a combined $1.52 billion at the box office.

Speaking to PEOPLE in the latest issue, after rousing applause from fans during their Obi-Wan Kenobi panel at Star Wars Celebration last week, McGregor, 51, and Christensen, 41 open up about their evolving relationships — and personal pride — with the earlier films versus the public's perception.

"I think there was something about the aftermath of the prequels when we made them that maybe made me a little blinkered to the Star Wars world for awhile," says McGregor. "I've always been very happy to be involved in it. I still thank my lucky stars that I was part of this legend."

"It's amazing, artistically, but also for my career," he continues. "I loved the films when I was a kid, so to be part of it is amazing, but the reaction was pretty tough when they came out."

F4PY3W Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor / Star Wars-Episode II Attack Of The Clones / 2002 directed By George Lucas, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures,

"And I feel it's nice now," he notes. "I feel the work that we did in the prequels, but also the films, themselves, have got their audience. They've always had their audience, I just didn't know it for a long time because they were kids."

He adds, "And they had the same feeling about our films as I had about A New Hope when I was seven years old, but I wasn't aware of it, really, until more recently. And it does mean a lot. It helps me to feel like I can claim my part in them back. I can be proud of it and proud of them and I'm happy about it."

Christensen says his perspective is always shifting, but he's always been grateful to be a part of the franchise.

"For me, the experience of working on the prequels was amazing," he says. "My relationship with Star Wars is I guess, ever-evolving. I'm just in a really good place with it right now and just really grateful for all of this."

(L-r) Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen Brian Bowen Smith
Brian Bowen Smith

The actors are particularly excited about returning to their characters now, via their new Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, which is set 10 years after the events in Revenge of the Sith, and eager to share the episodes with their families.

"My daughter is certainly curious about [Star Wars]," says Christensen, who is dad to daughter Briar Rose, 7, with ex Rachel Bilson. "I haven't showed her the films yet, but she understands what a lightsaber is. There are these things that permeate our culture in a way that you don't even need to know the stories and still, Star Wars will resonate with you. It's remarkable."

For more from Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

McGregor — who is dad to daughters Clara, 26, Jamyan, 20, Esther, 20, and Anouk, 11, with ex Eve Mavrakis, as well as 11-month-old son Laurie, with new wife Mary Elizabeth Winstead — says his oldest kids might not love Obi-Wan as much as others.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor attend the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" photocall at the Corinthia Hotel London on May 12, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Karwai Tang/WireImage

"My daughters are particularly not interested in Star Wars, but I'm sure it must have something to do with they've gone through their schooling being, to other kids, 'Obi-Wan Kenobi's daughter,'" he explains. "They don't bring that home. I don't know exactly what that means to them or what kind of challenge that's been, but I'm pretty sure that might have something to do with why they're not very interested in the movies, but we'll see. Maybe this will change things, this TV series. I just don't know."

"It's got to be the coolest thing to have Obi-Wan Kenobi as your dad," notes Christensen.

"But at the same time, at school, you might just not want that kind of attention or it might be unwanted," offers McGregor. "I don't know. That's why I wonder, because they don't talk to me about it very much."

With the first few episodes now available, both actors — who are close friends in real-life despite playing onscreen rivals — are eager for fan reactions.

"I'm looking forward to the fans getting to see it," says Christensen. "We worked on it for a while now and had to stay quiet about all the plot details and I'm just excited for people to get to see it."

"Yeah, it's years in the making," adds McGregor. "In terms of when we first started thinking about it, and now we get to give it to the fans and it's theirs. That's a big moment. It's very difficult to talk about without talking about [spoilers], but it was surprising to me. There was an emotional depth to some of the scenes that took me by surprise, as we were making them. I think that's a nice mark of something special."

Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney+.

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