Only one director of a Star Wars movie has been an Oscar nominee. That was George Lucas, who earned his first two Academy Award nominations for writing and directing American Grafitti (he received two more for writing and directing the first Star Wars). Now comes another possibility: according to The Hollywood Reporter, Stephen Daldry is in early talks to helm a solo spin-off prequel focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Daldry was nominated in the Best Director category three times in a row, first for his feature debut, Billy Elliot, then for The Hours and The Reader. The latter two were also nominated for Best Picture, as was his fourth movie, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. And his average critical score on Rotten Tomatoes is a positive 68%. That’s a pretty good track record, one that brings prestige and promise to the franchise, which hasn’t had any major category Oscar nominations in 40 years.
We’ll have to wait at least a few more years to see if this standalone installment will bring back that glory, as there is currently no script or even a writer attached. Ewan McGregor, who portrayed Kenobi in the first three Star Wars prequels, is also not on board yet. While it’s assumed the actor would reprise the role, Lucasfilm could recast if he’s not interested or they choose to go in another direction. He was already the second person in the part, following Alec Guinness in the original trilogy, but fans would likely prefer he return.
The perfect scenario would be for Daldry to direct an Oscar-caliber performance out of McGregor. Guinness was nominated for his supporting performance in the first Star Wars, and Daldry has directed six Oscar-nominated performances over four movies, with two of them winners. McGregor has never been recognized by the Academy but has been nominated for two Golden Globes and is currently nominated for an Emmy.
Here is what other critics think of the news:
“I’ll follow Stephen Daldry anywhere.” – Nigel Smith, The Wrap
“The hiring of a seasoned pro like Daldry…hints that Disney and Lucasfilm are getting even further away from the push towards younger filmmakers that brought them directors like Gareth Edwards and Lord and Miller.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire
“OK, but who will they end up replacing Stephen Daldry with?” – Kyle Buchanan, Vulture
The Hollywood Reporter acknowledges there are other character-centered standalone Star Wars Story episodes in the works that could arrive before this one. Obviously there’s the upcoming Han Solo movie coming out in May, and there’s mention of Yoda and Boba Fett films. Meanwhile, Variety references the Boba Fett plus a Jabba the Hutt film.
Here is a fan-made trailer for the solo Obi-Wan Kenobi movie from last year: