Hayden Christensen Goes Back to the Bacta Tank in New ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Behind-the-Scenes Clip (EXCLUSIVE)

Hayden Christensen Goes Back to the Bacta Tank in New ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Behind-the-Scenes Clip (EXCLUSIVE)

In “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Lucasfilm resurrected more with its 2022 series for Disney+ than just the eponymous Jedi Master, who’d gone into hiding after the events of “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.” The show also rekindled his greatest conflict — perhaps his greatest failure — with former apprentice Anakin Skywalker, transformed by the dark side of the Force into Sith Lord Darth Vader. And it additionally brought back multiple elements of franchise iconography that go all of the way back to the original films — in particular, the bacta tank.

For many years identified by the water-filled tube where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) convalesced after his wampa encounter in “The Empire Strikes Back,” the bacta tank has since become synonymous with the healing of his yet-unbeknownst father Vader, who first appeared in it in Gareth Edwards’ “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” In “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” audiences get to see the Sith Lord in it unabridged for the first time, a task that required the show’s producers to recreate a familiar set into which they would eventually submerge actor Hayden Christensen, reprising his role as Vader for the first time in decades.

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In a clip from the upcoming physical media release of the show, Lucasfilm explores how its creative team built the tank, and prepared Christensen for playing the scarred character underwater without the help of an oxygen regulator. “It was really important to test it out ahead of time to make sure the lighting was correct, the water color was correct, to make sure that the prosthetic held up, and there weren’t any air bubbles,” explains associate producer Stephanie Peters. “Because we weren’t cheating it. It was Hayden without any sort of breathing apparatus, doing breath holds.”

Series co-producer and production designer Doug Chiang, who has worked on “Star Wars”-related projects since 1999, thrilled at the opportunity to showcase this famous location, even if he acknowledged that doing so runs the risk of demystifying it. “For the first time, we were going to reveal Vader in all of his various stages,” Chiang says.

“In some ways, it’s better to be more mysterious,” he admits. “But here, we’re now trying to peel back the layers.”

The clip details many of the tricks employed by the Lucasfilm team to bring the location to life. Meanwhile, Christensen says that acclimating to underwater conditions — especially ones where no bubbles could be shown — gave him the opportunity to learn a new skill. “I had to be completely submerged in water holding my breath,” he says. “[So] I got to work with a great dive coach, and he would teach me different breathing techniques.

“I think my longest breath holds were around two and a half minutes,” he recalls, indicating that the solitude was enjoyable, even wearing head-to-toe prosthetics. “It was surprisingly peaceful in there.”

“Obi-Wan Kenobi: The Complete Series” arrives on 4K UHD from Lucasfilm April 30, 2024.

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