Actor Sir Alec Guinness, who tackled roles in his 66-year career ranging from Hamlet to Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars,” has died, a hospital spokesman said Monday. He was 86. Several newspapers reported that Guinness died from liver cancer, but his hospital would not confirm the cause of death.
His rich baritone voice was his calling card, but if ever there was an actor who never played himself, it was Alec Guinness. With “The Bridge on the River Kwai” in 1957 he vaulted to superstardom and won an Oscar for his performance as the disciplined, inflexible Col. Nicholson in a World War II Japanese prison camp.
His 1977 role as Obi-Wan Kenobi introduced him to a new generation of filmgoers and made him financially secure. “I might never have been heard of again if it hadn’t been for `Star Wars’,” he said. But he detested the “Star Wars” phenonenom, and the fans that went along with it. He once described the dialogue as “frightful rubbish” and said he felt like a “caged animal” on the set.
Regardless of Sir Alec’s mixed feelings for “Star Wars” and the filming experience, many fans, including we here at Film Threat, feel that it was Guinness’ enlightened and utterly inspiring performance as Obi-Wan in “Star Wars” that set the stage for the validity, and credibility, of the entire story to follow. Guinness truly was Obi-Wan Kenobi, and his wise recounting of the ways of the Force are the foundation, for many, for the entire epic. Sure, the effects looked good and the cast of characters was original and fascinating, but Obi-Wan took us in in a most powerful way: he made us believe.