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Well, Hello There!

Being Obi-Wan Kenobi over the past few years has certainly been an adventure. When I first donned the robes of the Jedi Order, bought my very first lightsaber and watched it flare to life in my own hands – that’s when I knew I’d found the cosplay for me. Growing up, watching all the Star Wars films over and over again – I never would have imagined that I would eventually spend a large chunk of my 30’s cosplaying as Obi-Wan Kenobi from the film era of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. I also could not have foreseen the changes it would see me through in my real life, or the friends and opportunities it would send my way.

Sure – I had cosplayed before as Jareth from the movie Labyrinth. That’s always been my “go-to” cosplay, since Labyrinth is one of my most adored stand-alone films for sheer nostalgia alone. And because I have sort of a fetish for the 1800’s and the Civil War era specifically, I also cosplayed as my own version of Abraham Lincoln from Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – but those two cosplays are sort of “niche”. Many people don’t know who Jareth is, and since his pants are pretty much skin-tight, it’s sort of weird to cosplay at conventions with lots of kids present. Most of them think I’m some weirdo in skin-tight leggings and makeup because they never grew up with that movie, let alone David Bowie. And Abraham Lincoln was great fun, but due to the fact that relatively few people have read or seen Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in comparison to how many people just know Abraham Lincoln, our president – there was much confusion. People shouting that because I had an axe, I was thinking of the wrong president (“This ain’t cherry juice, sir!”) or just plain asking why I had an axe in the first place, or asking me to recite the Gettysburg Address (“Sorry! Can’t remember. Caught a bullet in the brain, sir!”) from memory.
But Obi-Wan, other than the many people who may be familiar with Star Wars as a concept but may not know all the characters, is largely recognized and adored by a large swath of the general public. I attribute this to both Obi-Wan’s “friendly” appearance (smiles, beard) and also the charm that both Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor (especially) brought to the character. Women and gay men appreciate his softness and his dashing good looks, while men and children appreciate his guile and his skill with a lightsaber. He is all accessible and the lynch pin of the entire saga, other than Han Solo (in my opinion).
Obi-Wan Kenobi is introduced in the Star Wars film universe as an old hermit, clinging to a fallen religion, one of the last of his kind. He reluctantly comes out of hiding to teach a young man (Luke Skywalker, obviously) the ways of the Force. In the prequels (think of them what you will) – Ewan McGregor fleshes out a more complete picture of Obi-Wan Kenobi that Alec Guinness started in the original trilogy. We see Obi-Wan with more flaws, as a more complete character, arguably the best-written and best-acted character in the entire series thus far.
And that’s the thing about Obi-Wan. He’s got flaws. Of course, you see more of those flaws in the Clone Wars television series – but if you look deeper into the Star Wars films themselves, you can see those flaws and also that he overcame most of them by the end of his character arc.
Initially, Obi-Wan could be impatient and overconfident – almost cocky. This transformed later on into his signature charm. He was never abrasive, like Anakin could be – but his inability to fully connect with people was evident in how he lost track of his friendship with Anakin, which partially led to him being drawn to the dark side and transforming into Darth Vader.

 

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A photo of me as Obi-Wan Kenobi and my good friend Tyler Gaylord as Anakin Skywalker. Photo and edits by Gunter Fett.

When I first got the idea to cosplay as Obi-Wan Kenobi, it was in the winter about four or five years ago after I had gone ice skating with my then-girlfriend. In one of the photos we’d taken while ice skating, I noticed that with my full beard and toothy smile I looked similar to Ewan McGregor’s version of Obi-Wan Kenobi from Episode III. I posted on Facebook a side-by-side comparison of me and Kenobi, since I was looking for more cosplay options at the time and wanted opinions, and the consensus seemed to be that I should attempt cosplaying the Jedi master. I agreed.

Looking online, I bought my first Obi-Wan Kenobi Force FX lightsaber on Amazon and ordered a Halloween costume as well – the Clone Wars version of Obi-Wan, complete with foam battle armor. The armor was…not what I expected. However, Joebi-Wan (as many of my friends now call me) was thus born.

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Obviously, the quality of the costume I initially purchased was not up to par with cosplaying, and so I eventually invested in some close-to-movie-accurate robes, and brought my game to the next level.

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Initially, I was just going to style my hair in a similar manner to Ewan McGregor’s in the film, and maybe do some makeup in order to better emulate his looks – but eventually I decided that I would try to dye my hair and mustache to get as close to looking like Obi-Wan as I possibly could without plastic surgery. I went to Bei Capelli in South Portland, here in Maine, and they helped me out with the dye. It worked out well, and the end result was pretty damned good, in my opinion. I was officially a ginger.

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With the new lightsaber, costume, and dye-job – I made my official debut as Obi-Wan Kenobi in October of 2013. I attended not only Coast City Comicon (sadly now defunct) in South Portland, here in Maine – but on top of that, I also attended Super Megafest in Marlborough, Massachusetts and also the Halloween festivities here in Portland, Maine and also in Salem, Massachusetts. All in all, it was a very wonderful cosplay experience and on the cosplaying level, one of my better-accepted cosplays by the community at large. As a bonus – I also got my first taste of meeting Star Wars actors at conventions when I met Ray Park, who portrayed Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He took a couple of photos with me, and also stabbed me with my lightsaber for good measure.

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To see the children’s eyes light up as I walked through the streets of Salem, or to see women glance at me and smile, or to have fellow cosplayers mistake me as someone from the Rebel Legion was all great fun for me. Up until now, I’ve been to numerous conventions, charity events, and parties dressed up as Obi-Wan Kenobi. I’ve been on the news, in the papers. I’ve made lots of good friends and even more people smile.

Being Obi-Wan has given me perspective, has given me confidence, has instilled within me a sense of pride. Not in myself, really – but in portraying such a beloved character. Being on my feet for 9-13 hours a day, sometimes in extreme weather conditions, just to make people smile is worth it all, especially for the children.

Doing charity work for the kids, or simply showing up in costume at a restaurant for an event or walking down the street and getting high-fives from an otherwise jaded and dejected populace gives more to the heart and spirit than money ever could. I have received so much kindness and excitement just for sharing in my joy of such a great character that I sometimes feel selfish for taking it all in myself.

There’s no telling what other adventures I’ll end up on as Obi-Wan Kenobi. What I do hope is that I continue having fun, continue to make people smile, and continue to do justice to such a great character in the Star Wars universe. Now, here are some photos of my exploits over the years as Obi-Wan. If you enjoy my take on Obi-Wan Kenobi, I can be found on Facebook both on my MAIN PAGE and also on my COSPLAY PAGE.

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AND – if you made it this far, here’s a video of me dueling my friend Tyler Gaylord on a beach here in Portland, Maine. Shot and edited by the amazing Gunter Fett. CHECK IT OUT!

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Graduated from Saint Joseph's College Of Maine with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts - Creative Writing as well as Stonecoast, a low-residency MFA program through University of Southern Maine. Has several screenplays, a novel, graphic novel and a memoir all in development.

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