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News Archive

January - June 2004


Official Long Way Round site updated

There’s an update on the official site. A fascinating travelogue from the Mongolian border to Ulaan Bataar covering May 19 to 28 (containing two tiny pictures).

Three new pictures were added in the image gallery ("Crew car & carcass", "A camel" and "Around the camp fire").

Four fun videos have also been added, including one where Ewan sings!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 // 07:13 a.m.


Official Long Way Round updated

The official Long Way Round site has been updated a new travelogue covering May 16 to 19 in Almaty and the Altai Region. It includes two small images.

The image gallery has 7 new photographs.

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, June 22, 2004 // 07:50 a.m.


Solid Geometry now available on DVD

Ewan McGregor and Ruth Millar star as Phil and Maisie, a succesful advertising executive and his wildcat young wife, whose hedonistic lifestyle is thrown into turmoil by Phil’s dangerous obsession with his great-great grandfather’s secret diaries.

Directed by Denis Lawson, and based on the compelling short story by Ian McEwan, this critically acclaimed supernatural thriller is an edgy, erotically charged tale of passion, obsession and the unknown.

This is the official premiere DVD release of the film, which has not previously been seen outside of the UK and film festivals. NTSC and PAL versions are available with international shipping options. Please note these DVDs are multi-region and will play anywhere. The DVDs are currently available at a special introductory price of £7.99 (approx $14.60) plus shipping

Running time: 30mins, Colour, English language, certificate 15.

This is an independent release by the filmakers, please spread the word!

If you have any enquiries about the release, please mail to: mail@solidgeometry.net

You may order Solid Geometry directly from the official Solid Geometry site.

Special thanks to Gill Parry, producer of Solid Geometry, for the information and the photographs!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, June 20, 2004 // 10:26 a.m.


Ewan McGregor spends three days in Yakutsk

June 18 2004
Note: Text translated using Babel Fish, which was extremely clumsy and difficult to understand. Interpreted and corrected by Claude Marcotte.

Without pomp and circumstance, within the framework of a round-the-world journey, the star of "Moulin Rouge" and "Star Wars" - Hollywood actor Ewan McGregor - arrived almost incognito in Yakutsk this week.

Along were actor Charlie Borrman, producers Russ Malkin and David Alexanian, camera operators James Simak and Claudio Planta. The Russian part of the group was represented by doctor Vasiliy Nishipenko and bodyguard Sergey Grabovets.

McGregor stayed for three days.

"NV" reporter Hope Teterina will describe the details.

McGregor’s journey began in London in mid-April. The group rapidly crossed Europe on their motorcycles, and were then in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Altai, and Mongolia. The travellers planned to arrive in Yakutsk at the beginning June, but incidents along the way delayed them.

Moderators, who answered for the organization of their visit, met the guests on June 14 at approximately 11 p.m. In their dusty suits looking emaciated, Ewan was sporting a beard and at first he was not recognized as a Hollywood celebrity.

The representatives of the ministry for matters of enterprise RS(YA) and the main agency of air traffic of Yakutiya drove to meet the travellers at the republic’s border. The group was comprised of three BMW motorcycles, a "Mitsubishi Segun" jeep with a cow’s skull fastened on the cowling and a UAZ-"sanitarka". The cow’s skull was installed in Mongolia in memory of a terrible accident, in which one of the two jeeps was damaged and had to abandon the journey.

As they arrived in Russia, they immediately purchased a gray "female medical orderly" (a trailer perhaps?), after estimating that for our roads, good capacity and passability was necessary.

The welcomed guests settled in the "Ontario" hotel, since this out-of-town hotel has a garage.

During the first day those get tiredded, dusty arrived. Since the profits late, immediately lay to sleep.

They also left the following day to leisure. The producer and bodyguard went into the city in order to supplement their supplies of food for the journey. On the third day of their stay, June 16, the guests went out on excursions. Elvira Prozatet, tourism division chief, was occupied by the touristic part of their visit to the earth Olonkho. He described to "NV" that Ewan McGregor and his associates were shown the museum of archaeology, the museum of mammoths and the underground laboratory of the institute of permafrost studies.

The group of travellers did not manage to avoid adventures in Merzlotke. The group’s jeep drove into a nearby swamp and got stuck. The process of extracting the vehicle was also filmed for the documentary. It is necessary to say that the entire run time was conducted practically continuously, operators James and Claudio tried to imprint all the details of the Yakut’s soil and proceeding events.

In their Diamond-park they were fed, shashlik(?) was pleasing to the guests. The visitors did not drink alcohol, instead they drank Coca-Cola. However, the Hollywood actor touched glass to container with the living sights of park - parrot by Matvei. The spent much time on the shooting range, shooting at the flanges. They spent a long and joyful time with a bear cub, after taking it out of its cage.

To their supper they brought in Ytyk-Khaya to the atlas. Curious guests tried the national dishes and acknowledged that they were omnivorous and found the food unpretentious.

Producer immediately warned yakutyan: "do not wait for interviews with the star!", but for free-lance correspondent "NV" Larissa Makarovoy it was nevertheless possible to ask the well-known actor several questions. Naturally, in English.

"NV": How to you like Yakutsk?

Ewan: To me here, in principle, I am pleased - especially the people, your hospitality and friendliness. But things here are expensive and very complex.

"NV": You are here only three days in order to learn city rather better. You should come again.

Ewan: Thanks for the invitation! I would want to visit again, but I do not know when. It’s necessary to finish this trip, we still have a long journey ahead of us.

"NV": But when you finish, what will you do?

Ewan: It’s complicated to say right now. I will be with the family. My wife and two daughters are already tired of waiting for me and I miss them. But the airing of the documentary is planned towards the end of the year.

After talking with McGregor, Larissa noted that Ewan was an open person, quite sociable, which seems quite uncommon for a star of his level.

By the way, you do know, how many Yakut fans obtained permission to meet with their idol?

vzhivuyu? You will not believe it: only four. Security at first did not want to allow them to approach the actor, but then, after noting the proper behavior of girls, permitted them to approach the actor. Ewan gave autographs, and was photographed willingly.

Returning from supper, McGregor and its friend Boorman discovered an uncommon sight: a large inscription "Ewan and Charley", made with lipstick directly on the asphalt in front of the Ontario hotel’s entrance. The actors laughed and were photographed lying on the pavement, next to the uncommon graffiti.

Yesterday the group of foreign travellers departed at 11 a.m. By the way, now on Ewan’s motorcycle is a sticker bearing the coat of arms of the city and the inscription "Yakutsk".

There are still difficulties ahead of them. From Neryungri to Yakutsk, the road is more or less normal, but after that, the cold pole and the complex section of route to Tomtora. Those who have driven in that direction know that there are clamps(?) and rivers that unpredictably flood the road.

The guests said that the most extreme roads for them were in Mongolia.

We will see what they will say after Yakutiya, but it is useless to worry. The group will be accompanied to the Magadan region group by the representative of the ministry of enterprise Rail Zalyalov, who knows this section of the road quite well.

The travellers plan to reach Magadan in order to cross by aircraft to Alaska, and to then cross Canada and the USA. They will end krugosvetka( their trip?) in New York, and the result will become 10-part documentary "Long Way Round", in which there will be chapter about hospitable Yakutiya.

From Nashe Vremya, photos by Yakutsk Vecherniy

Source: NV Press (article and color photos) and YA Online (b&w photos)

Thanks to Lucy for the find!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Friday, June 18, 2004 // 08:02 p.m.


Ewan reads Chekhov stories repeated on BBC Radio

During the week starting Monday 28th June, BBC Radio 4 are repeating the series of short stories by Anton Chekhov that Ewan read for them a few years ago.

1. Disappointment: His Wife - Monday 28th June 3:30-3:45pm
2. Disappointment: The Bet - Tuesday 29th June 3:30-3:45pm
3. Disappointment: The Beauty - Wednesday 30th June 3:30-3:45pm
4. Disappointment: Concerning Love - Thursday 1 July 3:30-3:45pm
5. Disappointment: Vanka - Friday 2 July 3:30-3:45pm

All times are GMT (subtract 5 hours for U.S. Eastern time).

Radio frequencies:
92.4-94.6FM, 103.6-104.9FM, 720AM

Freeview Channel: 74

Sky Digital: 854

Or you can listen to it online at: BBC Radio 4

Each episode will probably be available there until the next one is aired, so just search for it on the right hand side if you miss it. It will probably either be under ’Disappointment’ or in the Arts and Drama section.

Thanks to Holly CKY for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, June 17, 2004 // 09:36 p.m.


Faster available on DVD for Canada and U.S.A.

Faster, the motorbike film narrated by Ewan, is now available for purchase online and by phone to Canadian and American fans!

Visit the official Faster site for details.

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 // 06:27 p.m.


Relieved mum says Ewan is on course

Mon 14 Jun 2004
The Gossip of the Glitterati - edited by Edward Black

Devotees of Scotland’s leading man Ewan McGregor, who are concerned for his whereabouts since he set off on his round-the-world motorbike trip, will be relieved to know that the actor has phoned home to report all is well.

"Yes, I had a phone call from Ewan recently," said his relieved mother, Carol, at the UK première of the film she helped produce - Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius - at the New Picture House in St Andrews.

"He has just finished driving through Russia and into Mongolia and has been thoroughly enjoying it. There have obviously been a few ups and downs along the way, but so far nothing serious. He did say that a lot of the scenery he has passed is so like Scotland it has made him feel homesick."

Having helped to marshal a film crew, extras, première and party for the Bobby Jones biopic, which marked the big-screen debut of the hallowed contours of the Old Course, Carol was more than relieved that all had gone smoothly.

Source: The Scotsman

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, June 13, 2004 // 09:52 p.m.


The official Long Way Round site has been updated!

Ewan and Charley’s journey between London and Western Kazakhstan is now on-line in a new Travelogue section. Don’t forget to check out the Image Gallery for additional pics.


Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Friday, June 11, 2004 // 11:59 a.m.


The Long Way Round - Update


Note: This article is rather behind in the news as this happened several weeks ago.

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman reach the Kazakhstan border

Away the lads!

After three months of intensive preparation, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman finally hit the road. Following a small send off party at the Long Way Round headquarters in London the duo crossed into Europe, via the Eurotunnel, for a first overnight stop in Brussels. The next day they rode to their first landmark – the Nürburgring in Germany, a motorcyclists’ Mecca.

On the third night Ewan and Charley managed to reach Prague. Neither had visited the beautiful city before and were both extremely impressed. They just had enough time to sneak a look around the underground Catacombs, which are normally closed to the public.

After spending as much time in Prague as they dared, the duo headed into Slovakia via the eerie Church of Bones in Kutna Hora and through the Moravian Karst. They visited the fairy tale castle in Bojnice and stopped overnight with a family in a small village near Kosice.

At the Ukraine border Ewan and Charlie encountered their first hitch. A delay of over 12 hours meant that by the time clearance had been finalised, they were exhausted. With a dogged refusal to accept the inevitable, the pair simply gritted their teeth and rode on. In the end, their bloody-minded determination paid off and they made up the lost hours to arrive in Kiev bang on schedule. This gave them enough time to tour Kiev and visit a UNICEF project, which aims to help and provide support for children affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

While on the way out of the country, Ewan and Charlie visited a Ukrainian family who took them to see a working mine in operation. They were briefed about safety and then rode the train that was being used in the mine shaft.

The next day the two riders crossed the border into Russia – this time without a hitch. By stopping at Volgograd for a few days to assess stocks and check essential equipment, the pair were able to replenish depleted energy levels. After that it was back on the road again and a quick overnight stop in Astrakhan before reaching the Russia/Kazakhstan border.

As reported exclusively in Motor Cycle News, here is Ewan And Charley’s assessment of the trip so far:


“We’re having a great time so far, and the bikes are holding up fantastically well to the tough terrain. It was great to finally get away after all the preparation and planning. Someone told me before hand that if we could get through the preparation, the journey would be easy – and they were almost right!

“It was awesome when we got into Europe. We made sure we went to the N ü rburgring in Germany. I’ve been there before, but it was Ewan’s first time – it’s quite an experience. We didn’t actually do any laps of the old track, but spent a while there just watching other bikes fly by. Our first actual stop after leaving the UK was in Brussels, followed by the N ü rburgring, then we rode straight through to Prague in just one day – which was quite a ride. It has to be said the bikes simply soaked up the miles, though – they’re fantastic machines.

“Once we got over the Czech border we could really notice we were leaving Europe. The road conditions change quite significantly.”


“We had out first day off in Prague – just to have a break from the riding – and then jumped straight back on the bikes and raced across to Slovakia. We had a bit of a problem at the border there. Because we’re carrying so much kit – all the cameras and sound gear for the TV programme – we have to carry documents to prove we haven’t sold anything in the countries we visit. They get stamped on the way into each country, and again on the way out to show you still have the same amount of stuff. But we forgot to get them stamped on the way into the Czech Republic, which took a bit of explaining when we got to the next border crossing!

“There’s a totally different vibe in eastern Europe – it all gets a bit crumbly – but now we’re really in the swing of things. We had the bikes serviced in the Ukraine and put new tyres on. We’re using knobblies for the trip, and they’ve been surprisingly good on the road, but they’re quite soft so they wear out fast. The bikes have taken quite a battering, but have stood up to it incredibly well. Some of the electronics in the top boxes have got absolutely shattered, though.”


During the first few weeks the bikes and all the equipment have performed perfectly. The only minor incident, so far, occurred 10 minutes after they left. Charley was filling up with petrol and dropped the bike! There was minor damage to a mirror but a new one was dispatched immediately by BMW, and Ewan and Charley continued on their way. The bikes were serviced by a BMW dealership in Kiev to make sure they were in perfect condition for the drive through Russia and Kazakhstan.


Long Way Round, is being made into a major TV series to be screened on Sky One (UK) and Bravo (USA), with a book of their personal memoirs to be published by Time Warner Books (UK) and Atria (USA). The friends will film most of the programme themselves, via individual hand-held cameras and state-of-the-art bike-mounted cameras, and will be joined periodically by a third rider who will film the pair at specific points. The Long Way Roundtelevision seriesis being produced by David Alexanian (Elixir Films) and Russ Malkin (Image Wizard TV), and co-produced by Ewan and Charley.


The next update will cover Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s trip through Russia and Kazakhstan.

Source: World of BMW

Thank you Barbara for the find!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, June 3, 2004 // 12:37 p.m.


Ewan McGregor crosses the Altai Mountains into China

Text translated using Babel Fish, which was extremely clumsy and difficult to understand. Interpreted and corrected by Claude Marcotte and Igor.

Last week, the well-known Hollywood film actor left for China via the Altai mountains, reports the committee on the information policy of the government of the Altai Republic.

The actor and his friend Charley Boorman are on a round-the-world journey via London, Europe, Russia, Asia, Alaska, New York and London. The round-the-world journey will become a ten-part documentary called Long Way Round which will be shown throughout the world.

Their route of travel along the territory of the republic via the Altai Mountains passed along the basic transport corridor - Mayma - Tashanta, which is traditional for tourists. Supposedly, later, the actor departed into the Chinese province of Xinjiang (map of China).

Source: Altay Daily Review (Russia)

Thanks to Lucy for the find!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, May 31, 2004 // 08:15 p.m.


Solid Geometry on DVD June 15

30 min drama directed by Denis Lawson, based on the short story by Ian McEwan, starring Ewan McGregor, Ruth Millar, Peter Capaldi, Jonathan Watson; critically acclaimed supernatural thriller is an edgy, erotically charged tale of passion, obsession and the unknown.

Running time: 30min
Rating: 15
Specification: PAL (Europe) & NTSC (North America and Japan) DVD
Language: English
Presented in widescreen 16:9
Optional Audio description for the visually impaired

This item will be despatched on 15 June.

Order page: solid geometry :: shop :: simbiotic

Source: solidgeometry.net

Thank you Barbara for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, May 26, 2004 // 05:00 p.m.


Solid Geometry on UK TV Tonight

According to their television listings, it’s playing tonight on Channel 4:

22:00 Solid Geometry
[repeat] [subtitles]

An eerie, provocative tale of obsession, mathematics and strange disappearances. Starring Ewan McGregor in a rare TV role, and adapted from the cult short story by Ian McEwan. Also starring Peter Capaldi and Jonathan Watson.

Source: Channel 4

Solid Geometry
starring: Ewan McGregor, Peter Capaldi, Ruth Millar, Jonathan Watson
written by: Denis Lawson
directed by: Denis Lawson
30 minutes UK (2002)

Ewan McGregor stars in this half-hour adaptation of an Ian McEwan short story. A young man inherits his great grandfather’s diaries and discovers the gateway to another dimension.

Denis Lawson’s Solid Geometry is a slick quickie adapted from a story in Ian McEwan’s collection ’First Love, Last Rites’. Made for Scottish TV in association with Channel 4, it’s an erotically-charged tale of the unexpected that blends sex, obsession and mystical maths to highly intriguing effect.

Phil (McGregor) and Maisie (Millar) are a young Edinburgh couple whose relationship is upset by the arrival of the possessions of his great-grandfather (Capaldi). As well as an ancient penis in a jar, these include documents relating to the discovery of "the plane without a surface," an arcane geometrical figure that operates as a one-way ticket to another dimension. Increasingly obsessed, Phil recreates his great-grandfather’s research, then tests the results on Maisie.

Reportedly a labour of love for McGregor and writer-director Lawson, the style of Solid Geometry recalls his work with Danny Boyle while the tone puts it firmly in the tradition of ’The Twilight Zone’. Millar and Capaldi provide charismatic support and though the ending is purposefully cryptic, it’s a clever little curio that unfolds with high style.


Bold, good-looking and unashamedly sexy TV drama. At half-an-hour long it’s unlikely to outstay its welcome and Lawson’s slick direction ensures it stands up very respectably next to McGregor’s more high profile work.

Source: Channel 4

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 // 07:15 a.m.


Young Adam U.S. DVD release date

According to an inside source at Sony, Young Adam will be released in the U.S. on September 14.

Thanks to xcbug for the information!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Friday, May 21, 2004 // 09:29 p.m.


Motorcycle Jedi. Hollywood actor Ewan McGregor visits Barnaul

Ewan rummages in his motorcycle in the rear court of the "Siberia" Hotel

18 May 2004

Text translated using Babel Fish, which was extremely clumsy and difficult to understand. Interpreted and corrected by Claude Marcotte and Igor.

It was possible to assume that Ewan McGregor was capable with fencing, after seeing it in the means of a happy drug addict in Trainspotting. After the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode I, it became possible to believe that he was ready to suffer deprivations and fight. But no one could think that this cutie would sit down at the controls of a motorcycle and leave for Krugosvetku, but already those more it will cover along the road into Barnaul!

Nevertheless in the evening of May 16 the Jedi entered into the edge of the capital of Altai. The project by the name of Long Way Round began in England a month ago. They visited five countries in Europe. They arrived to us through Kazakhstan, where they were detained for two days. "Terrible roads, awesome hospitality. They wouldn’t have let us leave the table and made us eat mutton" - says Ewan. In Barnaul, it was possible for the travellers to pass unnoticed. They stayed in the Siberia Hotel, and their iron horses were covered from curious eyes in the rear court. The cavalcade of tourists consisted of three BMW R1150GS motorcycles and a Mitsubishi jeep. Ewan showed off in our town on the bike, which had been highly tuned to the limit.. He repaired "the horse" himself. Generally, he proved to be a simple and merry fellow. He diligently pronounced "thank you" and "please" in Russian and endlessly repeated "beautiful", being enraptured by Barnaul. "Cozy green city, approachable people", noted McGregor.

The group spent the night of May 16-17 and half of the next day in Barnaul. The guys visited a branch of one of the cellular companies to add some money to their accounts. Also they were inoculated against tick-borne encephalitis and stocked up on immunoglobulin. "I could hardly have persuaded them to that," complains Russian doctor Vasiliy Nichipenko. "They do not understand for sure what tongs and snakes are, and do not take care". Also, the travellers bought a lot of motorcycling clothes in a local store.

McGregor was accompanied by six people. Among them - his friend actor Charley Boorman, bodyguard Sergey Grabovets, doctor Vasiliy Nichipenko, and the team of the British television channel "Image Wizard-TV". Jim Simac does most of the film shooting. He is the only cameraman, who did film Osama Bin Laden(!). Jim will get one million dollars for his work. In autumn 2004 "Image Wizard-TV" will release 10-part documentary. While McGregor will write a book about the journey, he did not accept acting contracts for the entire year.

From Barnaul kaval’kada, they travelled to the Altai mountain. From there they will go to Mongolia, back to Russia, and then by airplane - to America. The tour’s end is planned in the middle of July in New York.

Source: Alpapress (Russia)

Thanks to Lucy for the find!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 // 07:44 a.m.


Ewan McGregor in Barnaul

May 17, 2004

Note: The original Russian text was translated using Babel Fish. It was clumsy and difficult to read. The text was re-written by Claude Marcotte. Claude knows it’s not perfect, but it’s much easier to read than it originally was.

McGregor’s route around the world took him through our border. His project, "Long Way Round", started in London in the middle of April. McGregor, along with the "Image Wizard TV" film crew visited Great Britain, Belgium, and from Russia will go to Canada and the United States.

Let us note that Ewan McGregor arrived only yesterday in Barnaul, although he had been expected since Friday. Ewan refused to meet with journalists. Within minutes he was on his way to the Altai mountains.

Yesterday, along the road to Barnaul, the expedition met a biker from the Altai Region. The name of the biker was not revealed. The Hollywood guests liked the resident of the land very much, and even decided to take him with them on the ride. According to radio “Europe Plus Barnaul”, now the biker tries on the special uniform for the journey.

Source: Barnaul.org

Thanks to Lucy for the find and Igor for the help with the translation!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, May 17, 2004 // 07:37 a.m.


McGregor arrives at Altai border

15 May 2004
Text translated using Babel Fish, interpreted and corrected by Claude Marcotte

Barnaul. 15 May. Interfaks-Siberia - Well-known Hollywood actor Ewan McGregor, who is doing a round-the-world journey by motorcycle, arrived at the Altai (in Russia) border.

A procession of two motorcycles, two Mitsubishi jeeps and a trailer, is expected to cross the Altai border into Russia on Saturday, as reported by the local media.

Ewan McGregor and his friend Charley Boorman’s round-the-world journey is taking them through Altai. Ewan McGregor is known for his films "Trainspotting", "Star Wars", "Moulin Rouge", "Big Fish" and "Young Adam".

"Long Way Round", which started in the middle of April in London, follows the journey of the actor and his friend through Great Britain, Belgium, Russia, Canada and the United States.

Accompanying the travellers is a film crew for Image Wizard Television. The filmed material will become the basis of a 10-part documentary.

Source: interfax

Thanks to Lucy for the find!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, May 16, 2004 // 11:01 a.m.


Extreme Ewan

Written by Danil Shemratov
Translated and adapted by Igor and Claude
Photos: Danil Shemratov (Shymkent)

Hollywood star Ewan McGregor is riding on across Kazakhstan

The escort team of McGregor had to be really concerned and nervous about the star’s life and health somewhere in the middle of the trip across Kazakhstan. A sort of blood-sucking insect stung the "Moulin Rouge" and "Star Wars" actor on the forehead.

The species of the insect had never been clearly identified. So, the English and Kazakhstan doctors had been conducting a true conference over mobile phones and Internet; the most dangerous variant was considered as well - the sting of the encephalitic tick.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

That close encounter with the fauna of Kazakhstan took place before McGregor’s visit to Turkestan. Together with his friend and companion Charley Boorman, Ewan made up his mind to experience the utmost romantice and sleep in a double tent right in the middle of the Kazakh steppe. While the decision confused the English organizers’ plans, no one dared contradict the stars. That’s how the Jedi appeared face to face with the creatures, which were unaware of the world popularity of their victim or traditional Kazakh hospitality.

In the morning the famous traveler woke up with a red, substantial swelling on his forehead. The people in charge of McGregor’s safety were really anxious and searched through the whole tent trying to find the blood-sucker, but not a trace of it was found, of course.

The team’s doctor made calls to the British and American Toxicology Centers to get a detailed consultation. The English toxicologists requested special charts of the natural habitats of blood-sucking and stinging insects of Kazakhstan, which were provided immediately by their colleagues from Kazakhstan.

When the British found out that McGregor got stung by an unknown insect living in the habitat of the encephalitic tick (which is considered to be one of the most dangerous insects, since the antidotes available for it are less than effective), the project appeared to be under the threat of failure. The foreign toxicologists didn’t wish to make default conclusions and recommended McGregor urgently fly to the UK for a thorough medical examination.

However by that time McGregor was on his way to entering Turkestan, and he was examined by the Kazakh doctors. According to the doctors from South Kazakhstan, the very fact that McGregor was able to get up and then ride for hundreds of kilometers proved that an encephalitic tick bite could be excluded.

Ewan McGregor went through the incident calmly, as he reasoned that various parasites had already bitten him.

Real Jedi

They had been waiting for Ewan McGregor in Shymkent since the second of May. Two weeks earlier the regional press-center had advised the local journalists, in particular, that the actor tries to avoid contact with the representatives of the media. Moreover, all the filming rights are reserved for the British organizers of the project, who are working on a documentary about McGregor’s and Boorman’s travels. So, all video and photo materials can be presented and published in the local media only.

That was also the reason why their visit in the South Kazakhstan Region was considered to be a private compared to a formal one. That is why no official meetings with the authorities had been planned. Nevertheless, due to their pre-planned program, the Shymkent guests were supposed to attend the Kazakh national equestrian competitions.

The team had reached Shymkent only by the evening of May 7. It was raining, but in spite of the wet weather, Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman and the their cameraman were riding at average 120 km/h.

At the "gates" to the city of Shymkent the guests were welcomed by the representatives of sports popular in South Kazakhstan and Shymkent. The guests were treated to traditional courses including koumiss (fermented mare’s milk) around improvised "dastarkhan" ("dastarkhan" is a traditional Kazakh, very low table; people are usually sitting on the floor, on a carpet. Also "dastarkhan" is referred to the dining ritual in general). When Ewan started to taste the drink, the accompanying people were nervous (they were afraid of everything, including the drinks… Well, they might be poisoned, or could make McGregor sick for whatever reason) as the recent incident with the sting was still vivid in their minds. But McGregor and Boorman drained their Kazakh keses ("kese" is a special drinking bowl used in Central Asia, see photo above), and they seemed to like koumiss very much.

The citizens of Shymkent were not able to see the Hollywood star, or even to cast a cursory glance at the bikes. Right away McGregor and Co. headed to the country hippodrome by the circuit road. At the hippodrome they were shown all kinds of national equestrian sports, including kokpar (when horse-riders are fighting for a goat carcass, you could’ve seen the game in the Rambo movie) and baiga (long-distance horse-race). McGregor and Boorman especially liked "the kiss of a Dzhigit" ("dzhigit" is a skillful horseman). The Englishmen appeared to be enthusiastic supporters of the horsemen.

After the end of the official sports program, McGregor and Boorman walked down to the riding arena and tried to ride the Shymkent horses. They just switched their bikes for the horses, and showed their excellent riding skills, galloping almost during the entire loop. The horse riders of Shymkent cheered up McGregor, exclaiming "The real Jedi!"

McGregor shook hands with all the horsemen from Shymkent, and was especially happy to shake hands with the female riders (most of them were 14-16 years old), and had memorable pictures taken.

Generally, Ivan Makarov-Grigoryev, as Ewan McGregor was nicknamed by both Kazakhs and Russians, in spite of the language barrier, was eager to communicate with all the locals. He was willingly photographed with them, and gave out autographs. As a farewell he said "rakhmet" (goodbye) in the Kazakh language, which caused storm of applause and cheers from the crowd at the Shymkent hippodrome.

After the horse-races, the guests were brought to one of the local restaurants where they tasted national dishes and then went to a private hotel. In the morning the riders headed to the former capital of Kazakhstan - Almaty.

Source: caravan.kz

Thanks to Igor for the find and the translation!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, May 16, 2004 // 11:00 a.m.


Ewan McGregor hypnotized by the road

By Aygerim Mekisheva

Note: The original Russian text was translated using Babel Fish. It was very clumsy and very hard to read. The text was re-written by Claude Marcotte and mrlzbth. Claude knows it’s not perfect. But it’s much easier to read than it originally was.

Film star Ewan McGregor and its friend, actor Charlie Boorman, who, on April 14 left for a 3-month motorcycle trip from London to New York, successfully crossed the border of Kazakhstan and even had time to visit in Atyrau.

As reported by MID, the actors and their tracking group will be in Kazakhstan for two weeks. But roads are the the only thing that await them; remarkable stops are also on their itinerary. Planned are a visit of the mausoleum Hodja by Ahmet yasavi, the national horse jumping competition in Shymkent, the 3-copeck piece in Charynskogo Canyon, hunting, and also a bath after so long a journey. Ewan will be bathing in Arasan (waterfalls). Furthermore, the renowned Jedi and his fellow motorcyclists must continue across the Tien Shan (mountain range). But Ewan will not be allowed into Baikonur (one of the biggest space centers in the world), as his documents are not in order.

But this is not simple adventure, but an entire project. Together with Ewan along for the trip is a film crew. They will subsequently release a documentary film of "Long Way ’Round" and a book, which narrates how Evan and his friend Charlie, where they met on the set of "The Serpent’s Kiss" and became friends thanks to their love of motorcycles, will drive 32 thousand kilometers through all of Europe, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia and North America. True, the friends crossed the English Channel along the railroad under the strait, and they will fly over the Bering strait in an aircraft.

However, before the journey, the Britons took survival courses under extreme conditions, self-defence, first-aid with British commandos, and also learned basic language skills, cultural awareness skills and etiquette. So the star of "Trainspotting" and "Star Wars", etc. will arrive prepared into Almaty.

The friends are traveling on BMW R1150GS motorcycles. They took a minimum of items including global positioning navigation systems and satellite telephones.

Ewan about his enthusiasm: "I cannot clearly explain, but there is this "road hypnosis". You either love this or it has no interest for you. Nothing better for me."

Source: caravan.kz

Thanks to Lucy for the find and to mrlzbth for her help with fixing up the text!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, May 13, 2004 // 10:12 p.m.


McGregor in the middle of nowhere

Olga Danilevskaya
Translated and edited by Igor and Claude

Our city was visited by well-known British actor Ewan McGregor; the very same Obi-Wan Kenobi from "Star Wars", Mark Renton from "Trainspotting" and writer Christian from the musical "Moulin Rouge".

News about Ewan McGregor’s visit was unofficial, and people knew about it by word of mouth only, but in the end at the meeting point there were so many journalists, you would never see this many at any official event in this town. There it was, a world-scale event! Aktyubinsk became one of the stops of the ride of 33-year-old actor, whose challenge is to ride around the world with his friend Charley Boorman from London to New York. The ride will cover around 32,000 kilometers, or 20,000 miles, and the team plans to complete the trip within three and a half months. The riders are accompanied by a film crew through the numerous countries and continents their route will take them. A cameraman is making a documentary during the ride, which is supposed to show the adventures of the brave men, but will also depict the culture, life styles and nature of the places the riders will visit. The team started off on April 15, 2004, and had reached Kazakhstan by the first of May, having ridden across Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Ukraine and Russia. The actor spent two days in Atyrau near the Caspian Sea. Our journalist-colleagues from Atyrau were less lucky, as they got the information about McGregor’s visit only after he had left their town.

The Shubarkuduk administration didn’t expect such important guests in their town. The day before they had been instructed to only provide safety measures for the travelers. It was planned for the team to just cross the area of Temirsk, and the Shubarkuduk authorities were supposed to provide the police and ambulance escort until the Mugalzharsk region border. But suddenly the plans were changed, and the town administration had to welcome the unexpected guests.

"At around nine in the evening two big cars arrived, and about an hour later a jeep and three motorcyclists showed up," said Mr. Nurmukhan Utepov, representative of the Temirsk region administration. "The foreigners were so exhausted that they wouldn’t ride any longer. They asked for a place to spend the night and were ready to sleep anywhere." Six people checked in the Shubarkuduk hotel: McGregor himself, his friend Boorman and the cameraman; onboard the escorting jeep were a doctor, an interpreter and the driver. Two other cars, who had been waiting for the riders to arrive, headed to Aktobe.

The local population of Shubarkuduk were really surprised by the motorcycles: they said the bikes were spacecraft-like machines, equipped with computers and other gadgets. The expensive machines were kept in the guarded garage overnight.

"Of course, there was no food specially made for the event, since we didn’t expect the guests," continued Mr. Utepov. "We had to offer what we had in the menu of our restaurant. In the morning the guests had some tea and off they were".

The next stop was planned in Aktyubinsk. At noon the area near Central Stadium was crowded with people who knew about the star’s visit. The journalists were warned: "Only photos are allowed".

The star was late, and the crowd was getting nervous and concerned: "What if he doesn’t show up?.." McGregor arrived quietly. The motorcyclists, escorted by a police car with flashing lights eventually appeared on the site. There were three riders: Ewan McGregor, his friend, actor Charley Boorman and the cameraman. When Ewan took off his helmet, I did not see the cute guy who sang "Come What May" with Nicole Kidman, but a tired, unshaven foreigner knee-deep covered with mud.

In spite of the warning that the actor didn’t wish to speak to journalists, surrounded by the crowd, McGregor did answer their questions.

- How do you like Kazakhstan?

Ewan: We’ve only been here for three days, so I can’t tell much. But I’d like to point out that Kazakhstan and Russia are the most interesting countries on our route. Mongolia might turn out to be an exotic country for us as well.

- Where do you stop during the journey?

Ewan: In hotels. The idea is not to ride around the world suffering and spending the night in tents, but to just ride around the world. When we stay in hotels, we can wash ourselves, clean our clothes, check up our gear and equipment.

- What do you have for meals?

Ewan: We’ve got food supplies, but every place we’ve stopped, the locals give us a treat. For instance, in Kazakhstan we were treated to koumiss (fermented mare’s milk) and meat.

- What else do you plan to do after the ride, besides working on the documentary?

Ewan: I’d like to write a book about the ride.

- How to you like our roads?

Ewan: (laughing) Very interesting. If it were not for those special wheels…

The actors had been planning and preparing for their ride thoroughly for a long period of time. In one interview McGregor explained: "We went through intensive training. Well, generally, mainly, we were trained to fall off the bikes. Then we took a long course on how to behave in hostile situations, taught by former infantrymen. The course included medical skills, just in case one of us gets shot. We studied survival skills - we were trained how to start a fire, and what gear we might need. Also we learned Russian and trained to increase our physical endurance by running and rowing".

The riders are traveling on BMW R1150GS motorbikes.

The team will be riding across Kazakhstan for around two weeks. Tonight the team is expected to reach Aral. Then their route takes them through Kyzylorda and Almaty to Mongolia, Siberia, Canada and the USA.

Source: Diapazon

Thanks to Lucy, Gail, Josie and Baby Jefer for the find!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, May 13, 2004 // 07:34 a.m.


Looks like the Daily Record is still catching up to our translated article from last week…

Ewan is a Miner Star in Ukraine

May 12 2004

FILM idol Ewan McGregor has been declared an honorary coal miner after a hazardous 250ft journey into a Ukrainian pit.

The Scot made the perilous descent during his 20,000-mile motorcycle trek across eastern Europe and North America.

McGregor, 33, and his biking companion, actor Charlie Boorman, were invited to inspect the mine by officials in the Donbass region.

They were both rewarded with diplomas declaring them ’honorary miners of Donbass’.

Russian film-maker Stanislav Komarov accompanied McGregor and Boorman, son of film director John Boorman, into the mine.

Last night, he revealed the actors had wanted to go even deeper into the pit but it was declared too dangerous.

Komarov said: ’Our descent under the ground was prepared very carefully.

’Ewan, Charlie and myself had to change into miners’ clothing and we were given a safety pack to use should we have to be rescued.

’Ewan and Charlie wanted to go all the way down to the bottom but the doctor on the trip was against this idea.

’We were lowered by a trolley into a diagonal shaft to a depth of 250 feet. It was still terrifying and the air very thick and heavy.’

McGregor and Boorman, 37, set off on their marathon bike trek in the middle of April.

It will take them across eastern Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

They will cross some of the world’s harshest terrain in areas such as Siberia as they head east from London to New York.

The actors will then cross by aircraft to Alaska before passing through Canada and the United States to complete their journey in two months.

The entire trip is being made into a TV documentary which will be shown later in the year.

Source: Daily Record

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 // 09:02 p.m.


Armed guards block McGregor’s trip

May 10 2004

EWAN McGregor was held by armed Ukrainian militiamen during his epic 20,000-mile motorcycle world tour.

The Hollywood actor and his friend, Charley Boorman, were detained by armed border guards as they crossed into the Ukraine. The guards failed to recognise either McGregor or Boorman, the son of the film director John Boorman.

They refused to let them continue until they produced relevant travel documents and McGregor, 33, made a plea for help by satellite telephone.

But before help could arrive, Igor Vaytsekhovskiy, a local businessman, recognised the celebrities and persuaded the guards to set them free.

Mr. Vaytsekhovskiy then took them back to his home where they spent the night on the floor in sleeping bags.

Stanislav Komarov, part of a documentary team filming the pair, said McGregor and Boorman had set off on their own for the border crossing when they ran into trouble.

He said: "Four hours after their departure our satellite phone rang. It was Ewan, and he sounded very alarmed. He told us they were being detained by Ukrainian militiamen."

McGregor and Boorman left on their trek last month.

Source: The Herald

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, May 9, 2004 // 09:34 p.m.


International film star continuing motorbike journey in Kazakhstan

BBC Worldwide Monitoring,
May 5, 2004, Wednesday

Text of report by Kazakh newspaper Kazakhstanskaya Pravda on 5 May

Aktyubinsk residents welcomed Hollywood and British star Ewan McGregor and his friend Charley Boorman, who are on the Long Way Road motorbike journey, with baursaks Kazakh traditional pastry-like food fried in oil and kumys Kazakh traditional fermented horse milk.

They are making a three-month motorbike journey from London to New York along the Europe-Russia-Central Asia-Alaska (USA)-Canada route other sources reported it was a four-month journey. The motorbike tourists started their journey in the British capital and are intending to stay in Kazakhstan for two weeks to visit Atyrau, Aktyubinsk, Kyzyl-Orda, South Kazakhstan, Zhambyl, Almaty and East Kazakhstan regions.

"Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan are the most remarkable countries I have ever seen," McGregor told journalists. He said that now he had a break in his cinema career.

Answering a question about what impressions Kazakh roads made on him, the actor began to laugh and said diplomatically: "Very interesting", and added that he was not sorry for installing special tyres on his motorbike. By the way, the stars are travelling at a speed of 120 miles an hour.

On their journey, they are familiarizing themselves with the lives, cultures and traditions of the countries they cross. For instance, in the centre of Shubarkuduk District, the travellers stayed for a night at the home of one of the district residents. In addition, the travellers are recording everything on video tape. The video will be used as a basis for a documentary film which is expected to be broadcast by leading world television channel.

SOURCE: Kazakhstanskaya Pravda, Almaty, in Russian 5 May 04 p 2

Thanks to Angelvelvet for the article!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Friday, May 7, 2004 // 05:14 p.m.


Russian journalist "MK" spent six days in the round-the-world journey with Hollywood superstar Ewan McGregor

Stanislav Komarov

Note: the original Russian text was translated using Alta Vista’s Babel Fish. The translation was clumsy and some words did not get translated. The text was re-written by Claude Marcotte to make it more legible (and she acknowledges that it is far from perfect, she is not a professional writer! You can read the original Babel Fish translation here; the original Russian text is here). If anyone speaks Russian and can help us fix up the text, please contact us.

Several days ago at the Ukrainian-Russian border, in strict secrecy, crossed an unusual procession of vehicles. Two super-powerful BMW motorcycles followed by no-less imposing Mitsubishi off-road vehicles. Even the border guards and customs officers were surprised at how well-equipped the procession was. The motorcycles and jeeps were literally overflowing with enormous quantities of unique remote-control equipment, carefully-planned supplies, spare parts. So different than what normal tourists carry. After looking intently at the face of one of the motorbike drivers, it was revealed that before them was one of the most popular Hollywood actors, the star of "Star Wars" and "Moulin Rouge": Ewan McGregor. Thus began the Russian part of the round-the-word journey, "Long Way ’Round", witnessed first-hand by MK (Moscow Komsomol) journalist, Stanislav Komarov, who spent several days following the improbable adventures.

The publishing house, "Moscow Komsomol" became the exclusive partner of the round-the-word journey "Long Way Round" in Russia. Two friends - actors Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman - left London in the middle of April on motorcycles. They were not overcome by their motorcycle journey of 20,000 miles across Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, then cross by aircraft to Alaska, through Canada and the U.S. to complete their journey in New York.

During March, two producers approached the "MK" editorial staff and shared their idea. We thought that this undertaking was not practical. However, "MK" could not stay away from this unprecedented event. Our participation in this project coincides with our 85th anniversary. We had to prepare official papers for the State Customs Committee of Russia and RF border service to ensure passage at check points, visa support and with the help of our regional editorial staff to render aid to travellers in the country’s territory as needed. The "MK" journalist took heaps of official letters went to Kharkov, where he transmitted the documents to allow travellers to cross the Russian border.

Day One

Ewan McGregor and his friend originally did not want any attention on their trip. In Europe, they stopped in small hotels, trying not to attract anyone’s attention. A similar hotel was also chosen in Kharkov, in the outskirts of the city. It was there that the "MK" journalist had to bring papers and await the arrival of the group of vehicles. Charlie and Ewan, on their motorcycles, arrived first towards the evening. It seemed from the side that they entered into the hotel’s internal court. Their powerful motorcycle are equipped with satellite communication and the newest navigation instruments which make it possible to get oriented quickly anywhere in the world. All-weather motorcycle suits are equipped with a temperature-adjusting system and their helmets hold video cameras. After being greeted by the shocked hotel owners, the travellers went in in order to settle down. The tracking jeeps arrived a while later.

Here was the entire group. Producer David Alexanian affably waved. I became acquainted with the remaining participants in the group. James Simak, is the headquarter cameraman. Everyone calls him Jimmy. The health of the crew rests on the shoulders of Dr. Vasiliy Ivanovich Nichipenko. Sergey Grabovets is a jack-of-all trades: bodyguard, driver and translator. None of the foreigners speak Russian, and Sergey is their only link to everyone here. We chat together. Complete democracy at the table, Vodka is shared but McGregor is limited to Coca-Cola. He has not touched alcohol during the entire journey although there is a sea of drinks on the tables. The DJ plays a song from "Moulin Rouge" featuring Nicole Kidman. Ewan smiles knowingly, gives thanks for supper and goes off to rest. The rest of the expedition members stay at the table to discuss the potential problems on the path ahead.

According to them, the first serious tire puncture occurred on the Slovakian-Ukrainian border - it did not prove important enough to document. They were kept for 14 hours at customs. However, there were more pleasant memories from Kreshchatike and cutlets in Kiev.

Day Two

In the morning, Ewan and Charlie settle on their motorcycles and take off. Emkovets will go with the producer and the camera operator. Four hours after their departure, their satellite phone rings. Ewan’s alarmed voice says, "we are being detained at the post by Ukrainian militia men. They require documents. Come quickly." We were totally bewildered and the producer was in shock. The situation became clear later in the evening, when we at long last find fugitives in the outskirts of an Ukrainian miner town. They had already settled, in an enormous house; in the drawing room was a covered table where a feast was being served to a large number of people - our heroes among them.

As is happened, a friend of the owner of the traffic control post recognized them as popular actors and in the very literal sense, took them out of the tenacious claws of the Ukrainian traffic cops. We spent the night in businessman Igor Vaytsekhovskiy’s large house, sleeping all together on the floor in sleeping bags. Ewan and Igor alternately entertained us with a guitar and song, Ewan with English ballads and Vaytsekhovskiy with "eyes black" and the song Of vysotskogo. The businessman’s wife said, "I will tell friends and none will believe me: Ewan McGregor is my guess, in my kitchen taking care of dirty dishes." During the celebratory mean, Vaytsekhovskiy, a former miner, proposed to conduct an excursion to one of the local mines and go inside it - indeed we are in the very heart of Donbass, the center of the coal-mining industry of the Ukraine. Vaytsekhovskiy’s idea was met with enthusiams by all participants.

Day Three

At 11:30 in the morning we were driving up to the hauling machines of the legendary "partisan" mine. This is one of the oldest working mines of Donbass. Our descent under the ground is prepared carefully: travellers change into miner clothing, they get instructions on proper safety and are supplied with everything they need should they have to be rescued. Hot heads propose to go all the way down, where a layer of carbon monoxide gas exists; however, the doctor is dead set against this idea. The health of the Hollywood stars come first. An hour and a half later, they go down. We are lowered by trolley in a diagonal shaft to a depth of 80 meters. But even here it becomes terrifying, the air is very thick and heavy.

Our excursion into the netherworld concludes without problems. The management of the mine presented Ewan and Charlie special diplomas declaring them honorary miners of Donbass. But we must hurry back to say goodbye, at the house which gave us lodging for the night, to prepare for crossing the Ukrainian-Russian border. We head towards Volgograd. However, we understand that the trip will take longer than there is daylight left. It is necessary to search for lodging along the way. The Rostovskaya province administration recommend we stop in the small town of Kalitva. This is a former Cossack village which celebrated its 300th birthday in 2003. It was in this place, as history claims, that the decisive battle of Prince Igor and the Polovetss occurred.

Day Four

In the morning, the chieftains Donskoy of Cossack troops meet us at the doors of the hotel with a parade and entertainment. McGregor and Boorman go on an excursion to the highest point of the city, where the Cossack watch post stood but now has a small museum. Many cossacks appear on horses and present Cossack 70%-alcohol home-brew. Ewan listens attentively to the translator, who tells the history of Don cossack, and happily tries on a (something) uniform and joins in singing deveil-may-care Cossack songs. Kalitva remains behind, and we travel several kilometers to Volgograd. However, before reaching the city’s outskirts, we have an extremely unpleasant adventure. At one of the service stations, Charlie Boorman has problems with the gasoline pump’s hose. The pump’s pistol escapes from his hands and poisonous liquid splashes Ewan’s face and eyes and he writhes from the pain. Thank goodness, a doctor is nearby and instantly gives him first aid. Everyone is downright frightened but Ewan calms everyone and he is ready to keep going.

It is decided to stop for the night someplace quiet, the former (something) residence in the very center of the city. This residence, according to old citizens, was constructed especially for Nikita Khrushchev. The four-room Presidential suite, which McGregor settle dinto, had been inhabited by Iosip of Broz Tito, Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin and Alla Of pugacheva. In the guest house there’s a Russian bath, which our tired travellers visited without delay. The day was completed with a holiday supper, black caviar and unending convesations about what is interesting to see in Volgograd.

Day five

In the morning, two additional people join our party: expedition cameraman Claudio Planta and the producer. We decide that today we drive along the Volga river, organize a picnic, catch fish and arrange to go go-carting. Three hours by motorboat with our honorable guests. On the lower deck everything is already prepared for the picnic: boiled sturgeon, boiled crab and russian fish soup… "king’s fish soup". It is explained that Ewan McGregor knows how to eat ccrab, he knows how to catch fish and although it was impossible to catch anything today, the fishermen appraised/assessed his skill with the rod and reel.

Generally the Jedi leaves a very pleasant impression. He isn’t arrogant and doesn’t behave like a movie star. He is simple and pleasant, he knows how to do things for himself, he learns quickly, he listens attentively to people, he is stable and shares the tedious burdens and deprivations of life on the road. After the jaunt along the Volga, the restless company is moved to the improvised autodrome. Children chase adult peasants go-carting, squeezing all the horsepower from the old machines. None of the laps reveal a winner.

Day Six

In the morning, "MK" journalist bids goodbye to the participants of this unique motorcycle trip. Going along with the travellers as far as Astrakhan, it was necessary for him to return to Moscow. A final group photo with the project’s participants, Charlie and Ewan gave autographs and placed souvenir stickers saying "Moscow Komsomol member" on their bikes and then left. We will describe in future articles how their trip will continue.

Source: Moscow Komsomol

Thanks to Angelvelvet for the heads up, and to Mary and Nutbar for the help with the text!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, May 6, 2004 // 07:20 p.m.


’Big Fish’ Tops DVD Sales, Rental Charts

Thu, May 06, 2004
By Brett Sporich

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Director Tim Burton’s "Big Fish" was the nation’s best-selling DVD in its debut week on store shelves with nearly 2 million units sold to consumers and rental stores during its first five days in release, according to industry sources.

The fishy fable, starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney and Billy Crudup, also was the best-renting title for the week ending May 2, generating an estimated $13.5 million in gross rental revenue during the frame, according to Video Store magazine research.

"Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," starring Russell Crowe, continued to sell briskly on DVD, with consumers picking up nearly 500,000 copies last week alone, taking the two-week sales total to nearly 4 million units, according to industry sources.

The seafaring epic was the second-best-renting video last week, generating an estimated $13.32 million in gross rental revenue for a 12-day haul of about $29.3 million.

"Stuck on You," starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear as conjoined twins, was the nation’s No. 3 video rental, generating an estimated $13.27 million in gross rental revenue during its first week in release. The comedy also was the seventh-best-selling DVD, according to Nielsen VideoScan’s First Alert DVD sales chart for the same frame.

Fox executives said that "Stuck" sold nearly 1.5 million DVDs to consumers and rental stores during its first week in release.

"Kill Bill-Vol. 1" was the No. 4 video rental for the week ending May 2, generating an estimated $9.6 million for a 19-day total of $34.5 million.

"Love Actually" debuted as the nation’s second-best-selling DVD and the No. 4 VHS for the week ending May 2, according to VideoScan. The romantic comedy, whose ensemble cast includes Hugh Grant (news), Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, generated an estimated $9.41 million in gross rental revenue for the same frame, according to Video Store magazine.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

Source: Yahoo News

Thank you Barbara for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, May 6, 2004 // 07:26 a.m.


New video at Scotland Today

There’s a new video available at Scotland Today! Ewan’s mum talks about the film shes been involved with and Ewan keeping in touch while on his bike ride.

Huge thanks to John Kilbride of Scotland Today!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, May 5, 2004 // 04:26 p.m.


FASTER Special Preview Edition DVD Available in the U.S. as of June 1

May 3, 2004

Exclusively Through www.fastermovie.com

The Special Preview Edition includes the full-length film along with footage from the 2003 Cannes Film Festival and Market, where director Mark Neale and FASTER narrator Ewan McGregor ("Star Wars" I, II & III, "Black Hawk Down") led a cavalcade of some of the world’s best riders, including Loris Capirossi, Colin Edwards, Alex Hoffman, John Hopkins, Olivier Jacque, Garry McCoy, and reigning champion Valentino Rossi. This video will be available for shipment within the United States only. Check back here for upcoming news on availability outside the U.S.

Source: Faster Official Website

Thank you Georginita for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, May 4, 2004 // 06:29 p.m.


British Actor Ewan McGregor Arrives in Kazakh West on Motorbike

BBC Monitoring International Reports May 3, 2004

The star of the new British cinema and the hero of Hollywood blockbusters, Ewan McGregor, was a guest in (western Kazakh) Atyrau Region on 2 May.

Thirty-two-year-old McGregor and his friend Charley Boorman, accompanied by two assistants, are making a motorbike journey round the world.

They left London on 14 April, and are intending to cover 20,000 miles within four months along the London-Europe-Russia-Kazakhstan-Mongolia-Alaska route, from where the travellers, with all their equipment - motorbikes and Jeeps, will fly to Anchorage and get to New York via US territory.

McGregor and Boorman have already signed a 1m-pound agreement with editors and movie producers on stories about their unique journey.

However, the actor clarified that they were not making this journey for the sake of money.

This is a journey we have dreamt about for many years, and it seems to us that we will never make it unless we do it now, McGregor had said before the beginning of the journey.

In Atyrau, the actor visited the Caspian Sea. Today the group continued its journey through Kazakh territory with a trip to (western) Aktyubinsk (Region), our correspondent from Atyrau, Viktor Syutyagin, reported.

Source: Khabar Television, Almaty, in Russia

Thanks to AngelVelvet for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, May 3, 2004 // 06:24 p.m.


Joe and EllaRutting and Nothingness

By John Powers

The dankly compelling Young Adam is adapted from the slim 1954 cult novel by the Scottish Beat writer Alexander Trocchi, a minor but pungent talent whose gutbucket existentialism is in the tradition of Roberto Arlt’s 7 Madmen, George Simenon’s Dirty Snow and any Jim Thompson book you might care to name. Set in the early ’50s, it begins with a woman’s corpse floating in the river. The body is discovered by Joe (Ewan McGregor), a young drifter who’s working for Les (Peter Mullan) and Ella Gault (Tilda Swinton) on a barge carrying coal from Glasgow to Edinburgh. In his own way, Joe is something of a ladykiller: a selfish, would-be bohemian who gloms onto women for sex and material support but flees if they expect anything of him. Soon, he and acrid-tongued Ella are rutting like mad seals in the barge’s cramped quarters while the impotent Les tosses darts at the pub. Meanwhile, Joe’s mind is filled with thoughts of the pliant, young Cathie (Emily Mortimer), the girl he left behind.

Young Adam was written and directed by David Mackenzie, a previously unheralded Scottish director who has taken on the tricky task of transforming a thinly plotted first-person novel into a piece of visual storytelling. Drenching his world in lovely-bleak blues, grays and browns — the film is finely shot by The Deep End’s Gilles Nuttgens — Mackenzie evokes a dingy, post–World War II Scotland of dinky flats, slag heaps and pinched lives. Everyone desperately seeks to flee into something: alcohol, suburban bliss, a journey to China, another person’s arms. Orgasm is the closest these characters get to transcendence, and what binds Joe to Ella, as to Cathie before him, is the desperate slap of flesh on flesh atop damp grass or beneath oily truck beds. (British cinema hasn’t lost its knack for sordid sex scenes.) Escape remains a mirage that beckons alluringly in the distance, like the fun-fair whirligig that Joe sees from the barge; when he finally gets there, it starts raining.

The movie is another showcase for the underappreciated McGregor, who disappears into his character so discreetly that, even as his face lets us track Joe’s every thought, you never feel you’re watching a Performance. He’s not a self-serious Method man like Sean Penn, whose work seems designed to make us think, “What a powerful piece of acting!” Nor does he vaunt his own courage at playing an unlikable cad such as Joe, a floundering avant-garde writer who lives off Cathie’s earnings and repays her with abuse, most notably in a sequence involving custard, ketchup and sodomy — Last Tango in Glasgow. McGregor’s lack of vanity finds its perfect complement in Swinton. Revived by the attentions of the unreliable Joe, Ella shakes off the slump-shouldered acrimony of an unhappy wife and becomes almost coltish.

The source novel is a piece of lightweight Camus (it has affinities with both The Stranger and The Fall), but one senses that Trocchi thinks of it as a big statement about guilt, responsibility and the hell of other people. In fact, his vision is too reductive for that. For all the symbolic weight of its title, Young Adam doesn’t come close to giving us Existence. But it does give us one limited human being. And so does Mackenzie’s film, which, in its grimy claustrophobia and casual amorality, is a portrait of the artist as a selfish young bastard, a man who thinks the world around him is soiled, and finds it just terrible, but wants to believe that, in the final analysis, it has nothing to do with him.

Source: LA Weekly

Thank you ParisRouge for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 // 06:31 p.m.


McGregor and Boorman on their way

15 Apr 2004

Ewan McGregor has finally set-off on his 20,000-mile round-the-world trip with close friend and fellow actor Charley Boorman.

The two will be on the road for three months on a route taking them through the Ukraine, Mongolia and Siberia on their BMW R1150GS Adventures.

McGregor has played many action roles in films such as Star Wars but isn’t underestimating the very real challenge the trip presents.

Despite a rigorous training regime and making plans to deal with most eventualities, he had to admit: "I’ve no idea what to expect from one day to the next."

MCN and motorcyclenews.com will be the only places in the world you can read about their trip, with McGregor’s team sending us exclusive notes from their diaries. For more go to www.longwayround.com Keep checking this site for updates.

Source: MCN

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, April 15, 2004 // 07:45 a.m.


Long Way ’Round site is up!

Head on over to the official Long Way Round site and check out the bios, image galleries (with gorgeous pictures of Ewan and Charlie!)… lots of info!

Be warned, though, that the site will work best using a screen resolution of at least 1024 X 768, a fast Internet connection and Flash MX installed on your browser.

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 // 08:18 p.m.


New video at Scotland Today

Scotland Today has a videoclip of Ewan and Charlie undergoing training and talking at today’s press junket.

It is available in three formats:

Real Player
Windows Media

Thanks to ParisRouge, Barbsch and John Kilbride!

! Thanks to Barbsch, we have more photos! They are below the previous ones. Thank you Barbsch!

Tuesday April 13, 12:15 PM

Actor Ewan McGregor, left, and his long time friend Charlie Boorman pose for the media in London, Tuesday, April 13, 2004, ahead of their 3-month round-the-world bike ride, in which they will ride a motor bike from London to New York. The bike ride will be filmed and made into a TV documentary for the U.S. networks. (AP Photo/Richard Lewis)

Thank you Fuumin for the find!

Getty Images has lots of photos, too:

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 // 11:04 a.m.


Ewan McGregor, the not-so-easy rider!

Motorbike-mad Ewan McGregor is getting his motor running for a three month motorcycle trip to some of the remotest and most hostile environments on the planet.

Later this week, the movie star and his actor friend Charley Boorman will set off on a 20,000-mile journey to Alaska, Siberia and Mongolia.

But Ewan, who has taken on everybody from rogue Jedis to rebel troops, says they’re ready for anything:

"We’ve been preparing for the trip full-time since the beginning of January. We did some training with a company that prepares people for hostile environments."

"We’ve had quite extensive medical training because some of the places we’re going to be, like in Siberia, are quite far away from any doctors or hospitals or anything."

"We’ve also done physical training, off road motorcycle training and GPS training."

Source: BBC Radio 1

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 // 11:03 a.m.


Ewan McGregor Plans Round-The-World Trip

By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press Writer

LONDON - Ewan McGregor is getting ready to travel from London to New York. But there will be no first-class comfort for the down-to-earth Scot. He’s going by road.

McGregor and fellow actor Charley Boorman plan to set out this week — the exact date is not being disclosed — on a motorcycle journey across Europe, Asia and North America that will get them to New York City by about July.

"It’s such an obvious route," McGregor insisted Tuesday. "It’s just straight across — you just go from London to New York, going east. I’m surprised more people don’t do it."

Spurred by a desire for adventure and a hankering for the open road, McGregor and Boorman hatched a plan for a riding holiday that grew from a trip through Spain to a 20,000-mile odyssey across three continents, from the highways of Western Europe to Russia’s rutted roads and the grassy tracks of the Mongolian steppe.

After crossing Europe, Russia, Kasazkhstan and Mongolia to the eastern tip of Siberia, the duo’s planned route winds through Alaska, down the Rockies and across the Great Plains and midwestern United States. It will all be done by road, except for a train trip under the English Channel and a short flight across the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska.

"When we get off the train in Calais, the next stop is eastern Siberia," said McGregor, 33, whose latest film is the Tim Burton fantasy "Big Fish." "We follow our front wheel from Calais to the other side of the globe."

McGregor, who burst to international fame as the rangy heroin addict Renton in "Trainspotting" and attained sci-fi immortality as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in two "Star Wars" films, met Boorman on the set of the 1997 film "Serpent’s Kiss." The pair bonded over a shared love of motorcycles.

"The sensation of riding a bike is something you can’t really explain," said McGregor, affable and attractively disheveled during an early morning interview. "You either love it or you’re not interested in it, I suppose. It feels pretty good to me."

As the scale of the two-wheeled trip grew, so did its entourage. The journey — dubbed the Long Way Round — is being filmed for a television series, to be shown on Bravo in the United States and Sky in Britain; the pair also have a contract for a book, to be published in the fall.

McGregor and Boorman have undergone hostile-environments training with former British commandos, consulted a nutritionist and worked out with a personal trainer. As they ride, their 1,150cc BMW motorcycles will be laden with tents, dried lentils, cameras and travel gadgetry — and accompanied a cameraman on a third bike. A film crew will meet them every week or so to record footage for the series.

"One of the reasons we got the TV people involved is that we started planning this ourselves and we realized it’s a massive amount of work," said Boorman, 37-year-old son of "Deliverance" director John Boorman. "And we wanted to have some kind of record of what we’re doing. And then it just sort of seemed logical to get someone in to help us with that."

"We’re not very good at filling in forms and stuff like that," added McGregor, a tad apologetic. "The idea of queuing to get visas and all that was just …"

He insists, however, that the trappings will not interfere with their travel experience.

"You can sit on a bike all day long, but what the journey’s about is who we meet along the way," McGregor said.

"A lot of the places we’re going to have nomadic populations — Mongolia, Kazakhstan. The people are on the move all the time, so their culture is set up to accept and look after strangers or travelers such as ourselves. Also, there’s not many roads there. It should just be a joy."

Source: Yahoo News

Thank you Alissa and Barbara for the finds!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 // 11:02 a.m.


McGregor to travel world — by motorcycle across Channel, Europe, Asia, Bering Strait, and to N.Y.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004 Posted: 1:49 PM EDT (1749 GMT)

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Scottish actor Ewan McGregor said Tuesday he undertook survival skills training and medical emergency lessons for his next big project -- a round-the-world trip by motorcycle.

The 33-year-old film star will embark on a three-month journey later this week to New York by way of Eastern Europe and the hostile terrain of Mongolia, Siberia and Alaska.

Accompanying him on the 20,000-mile trip to be filmed for a documentary will be his friend Charley Boorman, an actor who is the son of film director John Boorman.

Since January, the pair have trained with ex-soldiers and learned how to perform emergency medical procedures to ensure they can survive any encounters with unfriendly weather, wildlife or serious accidents.

McGregor, who called the adventure a "once-in-a lifetime trip" said Tuesday the pair’s original plan had been to go to China, but then the idea "grew and grew and grew."

He said he and Boorman would carry everything they needed on their off-road bikes, including camping equipment and tools.

The actor, who last appeared in Tim Burton’s film "Big Fish," said his wife and two children "understand and are fully behind us."

But he said: "I think if the whole thing was called off tomorrow they would probably be delighted."

Source: CNN

Thank you A Scot Less Ordinary for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 // 11:01 a.m.


McGregor Tells of Round-the-World Bike Ride

Tue 13 Apr 2004 9:58am (UK) By Tony Jones, PA News

Film star Ewan McGregor today spoke of his biggest challenge yet – a round-the-world trip on a motorcycle.

The 33-year-old Scot will travel across harsh environments in areas such as Siberia, Kazakhstan and Alaska in around three months.

McGregor will be joined on the motorbike ride by best friend and fellow actor Charley Boorman, 37, son of John Boorman who directed the films Point Blank, Deliverance and Excalibur.

McGregor told BBC Breakfast: “The idea came a couple a years ago when we were planning a much shorter route down to Europe somewhere. It just grew and grew and grew.

“We thought maybe we would go to China and then it grew into this round-the-world trip.”

Asked if the two friends were going through an early mid-life crisis McGregor replied: “I don’t know that it’s an easy thing to explain. If you ask anyone that goes on adventures it’s very difficult for them to explain why. Maybe the better question is ‘why not’.”

Boorman said: “It’s certainly not a mid-life crisis, we just love motorbikes and we love riding them so any excuse to get on a bike and do something (like) this seemed very much appropriate.”

The journey will be filmed for a future documentary and will see them travel later this week from London through eastern Europe, across Kazakhstan, through Siberia, across the Bering Sea to Alaska and on to the Atlantic Ocean.

McGregor, who is married with two children, explained that they had been preparing for the trip since January and had undergone hostile environment training, extensive medical tuition and off-road biking lessons.

The two actors will carry everything on their two off-road bikes for the journey including sleeping bags, tents, tools and camping equipment.

Asked what his family thought about the journey, Trainspotting star McGregor said: “I think if the whole thing was called off tomorrow that they would probably be delighted. But they also understand and they’re fully behind us, it’s a once in a lifetime trip and they all understand that.”

Source: The Scotsman

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 // 07:24 a.m.


Biker boys get set

By Deborah Anderson (ET Online)

SCOTS movie star Ewan McGregor is putting the final touches to a mammoth motorbike adventure later this month.

The hunk and his long-time actor friend, Charley Boorman are to speak at an event in London tomorrow about their epic land journey from London to New York.

The 20,000 mile trip is to be filmed as part of a TV programme, and a book called Long Way Round will also be published.

The trip, which is expected to last at least three months, will take them through western Europe before hitting the harsh climates of Russia, Siberia and Alaska.

Source: Evening Times

Thank you Bonny for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, April 12, 2004 // 04:48 p.m.


Big Fish Review

Review By: Matt Peterson
Published: April 12, 2004

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (a fight scene, some images of nudity, a suggestive reference)
Run Time: 02h:05m:02s
Release Date: April 27, 2004
UPC: 043396008373
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A A B+ A B+

DVD Review
Stories are the stuff that binds generations. When we tell a tale to someone younger than we are, whether it be thrilling, scary, or inspiring, that story shapes the mind of that young person. It is something they remember. Stories communicate messages, lessons, and morals, and can simply entertain. Stories are the backbones of great films. Without them, our accomplishments and failures alike would not be captured and passed on. Understandably, many of these stories become embellished. Why tell a boring tale when it can be shaped to form a riveting one?

In the case of Edward Bloom (Albert Finney), his life is defined by his stories, told in the thick drawl of a native Southerner. Much to the chagrin of his now adult son William (Billy Crudup), these stories flow like a faucet that cannot be stopped. As a child, William loved his stories—they fired his imagination and created a hero of his father. Akin to a child’s realization of the truth regarding Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, William comes to realize the falsity of his father’s mythology far later in his life than he would have liked. Frankly, he has become tired of the same tales being tread and retread, especially at his own wedding. Edward’s eccentric tendencies create a rift between them; William is frustrated with not knowing the truth about his father’s past.

When Edward’s health begins to fail, William and his new bride return from their jobs in France to visit the decaying yarn-spinner and his loving wife, Sandra (Jessica Lange) in Alabama. William is about to have a son of his own, and before he does, he wants to finally understand his father, and consequently understand how he should fulfill the role of raising a child. Throughout this period, we are thrust into the dazzling world of the elderly Bloom, brought to life through imagination and a younger persona (Ewan McGregor). His tales create the penultimate modern fairy tale. As a youngster, Edward was the star of Ashton, Alabama, dominating in both sports and academics. When a giant named Karl comes into town, he charges the juggernaut to join him in the next step of his life: Bloom’s hometown is too small for the both of them—it cannot contain Karl’s size, nor Bloom’s ambition. And so begins the journey. With this stunning confidence, partially fueled by knowing exactly how he will die, the youthful Edward touches the lives of many, and even saves a town.

Of course, the fragmented description provided here only begins to scratch the surface of Edward’s remarkable life, captured through his remarkable stories. The rest is for you to discover.

Tim Burton brings his distinctive visual style to this stunning, funny, and extremely touching film. Burton is clearly in his element here, and is able to use his imaginative power to bring to life a very personal tale of a father and son. The visuals, brilliantly illustrated by some first-rate costuming, production design, and cinematography, immersed me in this richly bizarre, yet inviting world. Its messages are timeless and universal—I can see why Burton took to this project, which for once does not include major comic book heroes or literary icons.

Relationships are front and center, brought to life by some first-rate performances. Albert Finney can do no wrong, and his Edward is no exception. Finney brings a great sense of history and experience to the elderly Edward who is as passionate and motivated as his younger persona, played by Ewan McGregor. McGregor’s boyish charm is present when needed, as is a palpable maturity as he begins to age. Billy Crudup does a serviceable job playing the frustrated son, whose ambition to know the truth mirrors a certain someone. Supporting members, such as the very talented Alison Lohman, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, and Danny DeVito provide panache when needed. Steve Buscemi is especially hilarious as the temporarily lost and consequently touched poet, Winslow.

Big Fish is a special film. It made me stop and consider my relationship with my father, which, like William, and any other boy who knew his father, has seen its ups and downs. When William believed that his father was nothing but a liar who made his world less boring through fish tales, he saw nothing but fraudulence. He fails to realize the definition of Myth, which does not necessarily imply something is untrue. The order and events may not always be accurate, but myths capture the truth of the event described. William comes to realize this fact, revealing his father’s true nature and powerful influence. Edward has become his stories, which, when told by those who love and care for him, will make him immortal. William too will have stories to tell to his son, who will hopefully, too, see his father as larger than life.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratio yes
Anamorphic yes

Image Transfer Review: Columbia’s transfer is somewhat of a mixed bag. Most of the time, detail is very good, exhibiting bold colors, stable blacks and an all around dazzling image. At times, the picture appears soft, which looks intentional, capturing the soft glow evident throughout. However, grain does persist and becomes very noticeable is some darkly lit scenes. Edge enhancement is present at times, especially around the main titles. Overall, a solid presentation that could have been cleaner.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

  Language Remote Access
DS 2.0 French yes
Dolby Digital
English yes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 surround mix is a dynamic, immersing mix that pulls the viewer into Burton’s unique world. Surround activity is frequent and detailed. I especially like the subtle surround effects as the lures move past the camera in the opening shot. LFE makes itself known often, especially when Karl the Giant speaks or walks. This is simply a great mix that enhances the experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
11 Other Trailer(s) featuring 13 Going on 30, Spider-Man 2, 50 First Dates, Hellboy, The Company, You Got Served, Mona Lisa Smile, Something’s Gotta Give, The Triplets of Belleville, Secret Window, Big Fish Soundtrack Promo
7 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Tim Burton
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:

  1. Transparent keepcase with art on the back side of the cover insert, which can be seen inside the case.

Extras Review: Extras are plentiful. First is an audio commentary by Tim Burton. Throughout the track, he is interviewed by another individual who poses questions and guides the conversation. Burton’s comments are varied, focusing on production details, inspirations, and avoids the pitfall of excessive plot exposition. Burton’s attraction to this project stemmed from his relationship with his father, who had recently died. Big Fish allowed him to endure the loss.

Next is a series of seven featurettes, divided into two sections. The first section, The Character’s Journey, begins with Edward Bloom at Large (08m:45s), which focuses on Ewan’s stunt work throughout the film. Finney’s involvement is somewhat of an afterthought in this piece. Next, Amos at the Circus (04m:37s) gives us an inside look at Danny DeVito’s ringmaster Amos Calloway, and the various acts featured in the sequence. Fathers and Sons (07m:20s) features cast and crew discussing their takes on the relationship depicted in the film and their own relationships with their fathers.

The second sction, entitled The Filmmaker’s Path, contains four featurettes. Tim Burton: Storyteller (06m:44s) explores Burton’s previous films, casting, Danny Elfman’s musical contributions, and Burton’s fascination with mixing fantasy and reality. A Fairytale World (09m:32s) takes us through the mythical visuals of the film, including costumes, production design, cinematography and special effects. Creature Features discusses Stan Winston’s marvelous puppets seen throughout Bloom’s stories. Finally, The Author’s Journey addresses the challenge of translating the original novel to the screen, featuring discussions with author Daniel Wallace and screenwriter John August. These featurettes are entertaining and feature mostly interviews with a healthy dose of behind-the-scenes, on-set footage. However, I would prefer if they had assembled a single comprehensive documentary.

In addition to access via traditional menus, these featurettes can be viewed by turning on an option called Fish Tales. Similar to the Follow the White Rabbit feature from the original Matrix DVD, two different icons appear throughout the film (one for The Character’s Journey or The Filmmaker’s Path). When selected, the viewer will be taken to a featurette that corresponds to a particular scene. This is really a needless gimmick.

We’re not done yet. The Finer Points—A Tim Burton Trivia Quiz challenges one’s Burton knowledge. After all the questions are answered correctly, you are taken to a short, two-minute piece on the VFX work involved in the famous "time stops" sequence. A nice bonus.

Extras Grade: B+

Final CommentsTim Burton’s most personal and touching work is a memorable fairy tale that details the grand life of an ambitious man, and the legacy he passes on to his son. Columbia has assembled a fine presentation of this visually stunning, meaningful work. Some stories are worth sharing over and over. Here’s one to cherish.

Source: Digitally Obsessed

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, April 12, 2004 // 04:47 p.m.


Are you ready for us, world?

April 11, 2004

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are set for the wild ride of their lives, writes Jeremy Hart

A hundred nights in a tent under the stars with Ewan McGregor. Tempting? Not if every night with the Scot is accompanied by the threat of attack from Russian bandits or Alaskan bears. And not if every day involves riding the equivalent of London to Edinburgh on a bucking motorbike laden with the equipment necessary to keep man and machine alive for three months. Then there are the washing facilities. The Hollywood hearthrob’s tent might not be the most wholesome place after a few days.

“One shower a week if we are lucky,” predicts McGregor, stomping up and down in a loft room above a motorcycle garage in a backstreet in west London. “Hopefully we will smell so bad bears won’t want to come anywhere near us.”

In the next few days, probably while the capital sleeps (“in case we embarrassingly forget something and have to turn back”), McGregor and his best friend and fellow actor Charley Boorman will kiss their wives and daughters goodbye, steal out of their London mansions, and climb aboard identical shiny silver BMW off-road bikes. Then they will ride around the world to New York.

“I can’t wait to f****** get on the bikes and get out there riding,” says McGregor, who already looks the part, clad in a black biker jacket, heavy black belt, oil-splattered jeans and scuffed steel-capped black boots. “It’s been a long and occasionally tedious time planning.”

McGregor’s backdrop as he paces the loft is a 12ft-wide map of the planet. Pinned onto it is a ribbon marking the route of the most risky motoring adventure undertaken by a Hollywood star since Steve McQueen and Paul Newman raced at Le Mans.

Walking the length of the ribbon — which runs from London through eastern Europe, across Kazakhstan, through Siberia, across the Bering Sea to Alaska and on another 4,000 miles to the Atlantic Ocean — takes McGregor six steps. Each pace equates to a fortnight on an expedition he and Boorman have christened The Long Way Round.

This is no PR stunt. It is 18,000 miles long. It will take them across 19 time zones and three continents, over the Ural, Tienshan and Rocky mountains and through two deserts. It should have been named The Bloody Long Way Round.

“This trip’s just grown out of daydreaming. Originally we were thinking about going to China, because my wife was brought up in China,” says McGregor, who has finally stopped pacing and sat down. “At that time we thought our wives and kids will fly out somewhere and we’ll ride to meet them, spend a couple of weeks on holiday with them, and ride back. But that’s still a very long way away. So then we thought, let’s ride right round the world.” McGregor and Boorman deny this is a midlife crisis, describing it as a thirtysomethings’ gap year condensed into 15 weeks.

They were going to do the trip alone, unannounced. But the temptation of a multi-million-pound book and TV deal has added significant baggage to the project. McGregor hardly needs the cash and is unsure whether it was the right thing to do to agree to a cameraman and photographer coming along on “their adventure”. But come along they will, following the bikers at a respectable distance in a caravan of Mitsubishis to document the journey.

“We thought we’d take our own cameras then thought, if we’re going to film for ourselves anyway, why don’t we get someone else to do it,” says Boorman. “And the book thing sort of sprang out of nowhere…” “…it’s a good book deal. It’s a big number, a big deal,” interrupts McGregor.

Even so, they are both keen to retain credibility among the biking fraternity: “I had a meeting in Oz, when I was making Star Wars, with this guy and was telling him about the trip,” says McGregor. “And he said, ‘You know, I don’t want to sit down and watch this and think, wankers!’ Well, neither do we. Bastards yes, but wankers no. There is a subtle difference.”

McGregor and Boorman first met on the set of Philippe Rousselot’s film The Serpent’s Kiss in 1996. Charley is the son of director John Boorman, starring in many of his father’s films such as Deliverance, Hope and Glory, and Excalibur. But it’s their shared love of bikes that has cemented the friendship, with Charley even persuading Ewan to support his racing team in the British Superbike Championship in 1998.

McGregor himself has been into bikes since he was a teenager. Heaven is riding really fast, the actor said once — he claims he has touched 150mph. Almost five years ago he had his most celebrated crash, falling off his Honda when it skidded on a patch of diesel on a Scottish roundabout when he should have been attending the 1999 Oscar ceremony. He was saved from little more than cuts and bruises by his leathers but his reputation has since put him on a collision course with producers. While filming the Star Wars movies in Australia he rode to work on his bike. "It seems the insurance bods at the Fox Studios in Australia aren’t too happy that I’ve been taking this form of transport," he said at the time. "I was told they would much prefer me to be like any other star and take the chauffeured limo."

What the "insurance bods" make of his latest venture is not known. But apart from completing it within a three-month window in McGregor and Boorman’s schedules, The Long Way Round has no element of speed. Only survival.

"Once we’ve been to Kiev and had our chicken dinner there might not be a good meal until Alaska," jokes McGregor. Humour masks the reality. Half the trip is through the wilds of Kazakhstan and Siberia. This is bandit country and there is a real danger of kidnapping, whether or not McGregor is recognised. "It would be nice to think there is a Ewan McGregor Fan Club in Siberia," he says.

As well as taking an off-road driving course the pair have had training in kidnap-avoidance from a former SAS officer. They refused, though, to have armed escorts. "We’ve covered as many bases as we can without taking a swathe of security guards with us," says McGregor, who is insured for £20m.

Special forces commando Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton was given the job of training the actors. He has also offered to form a rescue squad if they get into trouble. The friends have so far turned down that offer. "There are companies that can get you out with helicopters and things, but they will always be quite far away," says McGregor.

Instead Lowther-Pinkerton has concentrated on incident prevention and also how to combat potentially the most deadly element — fatigue from riding up to 12 hours a day. "We showed them, if there is a drunken idiot with an AK-47, how to get away," says Lowther-Pinkerton. "But carrying weapons is not a good idea. It attracts attention. The only place it might be good is in Alaska, because of the bears. In my mind the biggest danger will come from tiredness. Crashing must be their biggest worry. So we gave them tips on preventing fatigue and, if it does go wrong, first-aid training."

The mention of first-aid has the boys in fits. Charley, it turns out, took a while to get to grips with a few of the intricacies of resuscitation. Much to McGregor’s concern.

"It’s quite difficult to learn and I was watching Charley getting it wrong, thinking, the only person he’s going to have to do that on is me!" laughs McGregor.

Not that either of them is new to life on the road. Last year McGregor rode Route 66. "I love time alone. That’s why I love motorcycles," he says. "You make your own decisions, unlike films where everything’s decided for you. On a bike, you decide when to stop, where to stay." He is hoping for a warmer reception in Mongolia and Siberia than he got in Oklahoma, though.

"At the Elk City Holiday Inn Express they obviously thought I looked dodgy. When I walked in the staff behind the desk said, ’We’re full.’ Yet the place was deserted."

Finding, not being turned away from, hotels will be the pair’s biggest concern across Asia. Hence their tent. And despite the hardship of camping on permafrost with the air alive with mosquitoes, Kazakhstan and Siberia should provide the cultural highlights of the journey.

"From what we can gather the riding becomes such a drug that the second you get off the bike you just want to get going again. So we’re going to have to be harsh on each other to get off and go and see what’s around," says Boorman.

Russ Malkin, whose production company is making the TV shows, has trawled the route for culture and colour. "There is some fascinating stuff to see," says Malkin. He traces his finger along the ribbon. "In Kazakhstan there is the space station where they launch their rockets. Tashkent is the start of the Silk Road and at Almaty we plan to get the boys a full-on massage and sauna, which includes a thrashing with oak branches.

"In Mongolia we’ll try to get the guys to go training with the Olympic team. And Siberia… well, getting across it will be exciting enough."

The logistical minefield includes a border crossing between Kazakhstan and Russia, north of China. Malkin is confident it will be open but nothing is certain. All the governments on route have been keen to help Obi-Wan Kenobi and his friend on their way. But word might not filter to the remotest border posts.

The other main worry is fuel because contaminated petrol could destroy the bikes. McGregor has a plan: to use stockings as a filter. "Well, I’ll be bringing mine anyway," he says. "For the weekends, you know."

"And some g-strings as well, because I find that quite attractive," chips in Charley.

Their humour will be crucial in keeping them going. But McGregor is already considering how the trip might change him. He has been reading Jupiter’s Travels, by global motorcyclist and former Sunday Times journalist Ted Simon, and is worried that Simon’s attitude to western society on returning home might be his.

"Having been out in the world where people were really genuine and helpful, he came back into Europe and felt things closing down. People weren’t nearly so open to him any more. So it will be interesting how it affects us," says McGregor. "It is going to be life-changing, for sure."

Diary extracts from the tour will appear in News Review starting next month

Source: The Times

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, April 11, 2004 // 08:31 a.m.


Hog Wild

By Marisa Meltzer
April 11, 2004

As an actor, Ewan McGregor has proved that he can pass as a hipster junkie ("Trainspotting"); a ’70s glam rocker ("Velvet Goldmine"); a romantic 19th-century writer who sings and dances ("Moulin Rouge"); a Southern charmer ("Big Fish") and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi (the "Star Wars" prequels).

Now, the 33-year-old Scot is about to take on his biggest challenge yet - a 25,000-mile, 15-week trek around the world on his motorcycle.

The trip - which will be documented by McGregor and his travelling companion, best friend and fellow actor Charley Boorman - will air as a six-part reality series called "Long Way Round" on Bravo this fall. (The two will also publish a book based on the trek this fall.) Initially, McGregor says, the pair planned their trip to be a relatively quick hop around the globe.

"We looked at the Bering Strait, and thought if we could get there and get across to Alaska, it would be an obvious straight line around the globe," he has said. "It’s not done often."

To prepare for the trip - which is set to begin in mid-April - the two have taken self-defense classes, hostile-environment training and learned emergency first aid. McGregor’s still concerned about the actual riding, though: "The last part of Russia will be the hardest bit," he has said. "There are dangerous river crossings and it will potentially be very muddy. Pulling these bikes out of the mud won’t be fun."

This isn’t the first time McGregor has roughed it in wild terrain for TV: He appeared in the 2001 BBC TV series "Trips That Money Can’t Buy," exploring the Mosquito Coast of Honduras.

If a trip around the world isn’t enough on his plate, McGregor has also been creating controversy with his new movie, "Young Adam." In New York and Los Angeles theaters April 16, the film stars McGregor as Joe, a drifter in 1950s Glasgow; he spends much of the film having sex with nearly every woman who crosses his path.

He also spends much of the film under-dressed - a full-frontal nude shot of McGregor earned the film an NC-17 rating. Initial talk of cutting the scene incensed the actor - and many of his fans, who circulated a petition online to keep the scene from getting cut.

"It’s all right to cut someone’s head off in a film; it’s not all right to see somebody naked," he raged at the time. "I don’t understand that. I would think it should be the other way around."

Next spring, McGregor stars in more family-friendly fare - "Star Wars: Episode III," reprising his role as the young Obi-Wan.

His busy schedule, he admits, has been hard on his family - he’s married to French production designer Ève Mavrakis and they have two little girls.

"It’s incredibly disruptive to my kids and my wife, who’s had to put her career more or less on hold because we travel so much," he has said.

Actually, "The Long Way ’Round" was originally conceived as a way to travel with his family. "[Charley and I] were both looking at doing a trip with our wives. But we’ve both got young kids, so we thought, maybe we could go somewhere like China, have an amazing ride, and the wives could fly out with the kids. But then we looked at the map, and wondered what we’d do after that. We decided we might as well just carry on around the world."

Source: New York Post

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, April 11, 2004 // 08:30 a.m.


The naked truth

Originally published on April 11, 2004

’Young Adam’ strips sex of Hollywood glamour

’Young Adam" gives sex a bad name.

At least, in the cinematic sense.

It’s not warm and fuzzy, and most of all, it’s not discreet.

It’s sweaty, awkward, urgent and graphic. And it has led some early viewers to regard it as joyless.

"What I tried to do is do it honestly," says director David Mackenzie ("The Last Great Wilderness"), who disagrees with the "joyless" characterization.

"Two people coming together in sexual union is not gorgeous. Maybe audiences are used to pumped-up sexual scenes."

The realistic depiction of sex in "Young Adam," which opens Friday, has earned the film an NC-17 rating. After years of avoiding such films, "Young Adam" is the second mainstream Hollywood release of an NC-17 picture in less than a year. Bernardo Bertolucci’s steamy "The Dreamers" was released in early February.

"It’s certainly not movie sex," says Tilda Swinton, who co-stars in the film with Ewan McGregor, Peter Mullan and Emily Mortimer. "I feel it’s realistic. I think it’s a very important task to demystify sex in the cinema, because sex is another way of having communication. Very often what we see in movie sex is people stop communicating and then they have sex. I don’t know where they come up with that bogus stuff. Maybe that’s just the kind of sex they’re having."

The film is based on the 1954 novel by Scottish author Alexander Trocchi, an influential figure among the beats during the 1950s. A bit of a Svengali and a heroin addict, he pimped one of his wives to support his habit, had to be spirited out of the U.S. when he was caught peddling heroin to a minor, and became a countercultural media figure in Great Britain in the 1960s. He died in 1984.

It would be easy to conclude that the film is autobiographical, though Mackenzie insists it’s not.

The main character, Joe (McGregor), is a failed writer who works on a coal barge traveling the canals of Scotland in the ’50s. With him are the owner, Les (Mullan), Les’ wife, Ella (Swinton), and their son, Jim (Jack McElhone). In no time at all Joe and Ella are going at it right under Les’ nose.

As the movie unfolds, it becomes clear that there was another, more important woman in Joe’s life, Cathie (Mortimer), and that Joe is incapable of going beyond the physical when it comes to relationships with women.

Difficult to get lucky

"The movie charts his moral and spiritual decline through a series of sexual scenes," says Mackenzie, who also wrote the script. "It’s an antiromantic, antiheroic story."

It’s also a story that was not easy to get made. Or even published. Trocchi was initially unable to find a publisher, so he wrote a pornographic version of the book (which Mackenzie glanced at but did not use). When the original was finally printed, he tried for years to adapt it into a movie.

Mackenzie may have had better luck getting the film made, but not before financing fell through twice. He initially pitched it as a road movie going 3 miles an hour, the speed of the barge.

Filming was often in tight quarters on a boat that was constantly getting stuck. And, of course, he had to find a cast that was comfortable with nudity. In some ways, this unglamorous nudity, which Swinton says she found deeply glamorous, was easier to shoot than highly choreographed sexuality.

"It’s always going to be relatively technical," Swinton says. "There’s always going to be a moment when somebody says, ’When you’ve got your feet on the ceiling, watch your left heel because you’re knocking the microphone.’ At least we didn’t have anybody saying, ’Open your mouth a quarter of an inch wider’ or ’Make sure that your nose is hitting the light.’"
They did, however, have a highly technical moment when Joe - and the camera - ponder a fly on Ella’s breast. It’s an image lifted from the book that hints at the death hovering in the story. Paraphrasing the book, Swinton says, "It rubs its forelegs together as if it’s carving a tiny turkey."

"We made two attempts at it," says Mackenzie. "You put flies in the fridge first and then body heat wakes them up. Unfortunately it took 10 minutes for them to wake up, and by that time they were crawling all over the furniture. We finally got a fly wrangler to blow one onto her with a tube."

"It was either a very well-read fly or very talented," Swinton, a Scot, says. "It did the tiny turkey thing perfectly. I can tell you for sure that it was a Scottish fly."

Source: NY Daily News

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, April 11, 2004 // 08:29 a.m.



Wednesday, March 31, 2004

KELLY JONES has written his first movie and asked EWAN McGREGOR to star in it.

The STEREOPHONICS frontman has penned a screenplay about British hangman Syd Dernley.

Kelly, who studied movie writing before he became famous, handed a copy of the script to his pal Ewan backstage at a gig this week.

Now the Hollywood star is deciding whether to appear in the film or produce it.

Kelly has been working on his story — called The Memoirs Of Charlie Tucker — for nearly two years.

It is based on Syd’s 1989 autobiography, The Hangman’s Tale, which Kelly bought the rights to.

The singer gave Ewan the script after the Stereophonics’ set at The Teenage Cancer Trust charity show in London on Tuesday.

Kelly told me minutes later: “We’re trying to work on a film together and I’ve given him the script.

“I’ve been kind of on and off this for two years. I like doing it, it’s a nice break from the music.”

A pal explained: “Kelly is fascinated by film and, ironically, Ewan’s a self-confessed frustrated rock star.

“They’ve been mates for a long time and now Kelly’s trying to convince Ewan to work on the hangman movie.

“It’s his pet project away from the band. Ewan has promised to give it a serious look.

“If Stereophonics hadn’t taken off, Kelly would have gone into the film industry in some way.

“Now he’s lucky enough to be able to do it on the side. But he needs the backing of a big name from Hollywood to get this project off the ground — and Ewan is the man.”

Ewan and Kelly have become firm friends because of their shared twin passions — film and music. Given the chance to swop jobs, they would.

Acting has given Ewan plenty of chance to live out his fantasies.

He starred as a David Bowie-style glamrock star in Velvet Goldmine.

And he got a chance to show off his great singing voice in the musical Moulin Rouge.

Ewan has just finished playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode III, out next year.

He is currently adding voices to two animated films — a British project called Valiant and the US production, Robots.

Kelly has certainly picked a morbid tale for his first movie plot.

Syd, who died in 1994 aged 73, grew up fascinated by crime and decided to become a hangman aged only 11.

He executed 25 people in the Forties and Fifties.

Syd prided himself on his work and boasted he was Britain’s fastest hangman, finishing one lag in just seven seconds.

Source: The Sun

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, April 1, 2004 // 07:40 a.m.


McGregor ready for 25,000-mile ride

31 Mar 2004

Next month, actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman will set off together on a round the world bike trip.

Starting today, we’ll bring you regular exclusive updates on their journey, and the Long Way Round TV show and book they’re making along the way.

The 25,000-mile, 15-week trip will take them through France, Luxembourg, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Canada and the U.S.

The only company they’ll have for most of the journey will be each other and a cameraman on a third bike. A full film crew with a back-up van will bring them supplies every seven days.

They’ll set off from Shepherd’s Bush in London in two weeks’ time. Will they still be friends when they get back? When we caught up with them, Boorman had just snapped the front brake lever off McGregor’s MV Agusta F4 by accidentally kicking it while climbing off one of the BMW R1150GSs they’re using for the journey…

Long Way Round, produced by David Alexanian of Elixir Films and Russ Malkin of Image Wizard TV, is scheduled to be aired this autumn. Click here for more details and further updates on the duo’s progress.

PREPARATION: McGREGOR: "We did an intensive off-road course. Well, actually it was more of an intensive falling-off course. Then we did a great hostile-environment course with some ex-soldiers. It covered medical stuff like what to do if one of us gets shot.

"Then we spent a day with Ray Mears (Trips Money Can’t Buy). He taught us about basic survival stuff – how to start fires and what sort of kit we’d need.

"We’ve also been learning some Russian and doing some physical training – at least once a month!"

BOORMAN: "We’ve been training three times – endurance training, running and rowing and stuff like that. We just came back from Scotland last week, where we went to test all our camping kit, and to see what it’s like to do 350 miles a day. It was only the second time I’ve camped in my life."

WHY? McGREGOR: "We were both looking at doing a trip with our wives, going to Spain or somewhere on sports tourers. But we’ve both got young kids, so we thought, maybe we could go somewhere like China, have an amazing ride, and the wives could fly out with the kids. But then we looked at the map, and wondered what we’d do after that. We decided we might as well just carry on around the world."

CHARLEY BOORMAN: If you haven’t heard of Charley Boorman, you may have heard of his dad John, director of the classic 1970s film Deliverance. "I was in it," said Boorman junior. "But I wasn’t the banjo guy – I just want to get that clear. At the very end of the movie, when John Voight comes back to his wife, there’s a little boy sitting on the sofa. That was me. I got a tricycle for it!"

Since then, Boorman has also starred in The Emerald Forest, The Bunker, and alongside McGregor in the 1996 film The Serpent’s Kiss, which is how the pair first met.

"I was playing Ewan’s secretary in the film," said Boorman. "The first conversation we had together was about bikes and riding. We just got on really well, and we’ve stayed friends ever since."

THE BIKES: McGREGOR: "We chose BMW R1150GSs because they’re the only bikes that have been built for the job. It’s a 25,000-mile trip over three-and-a-half months, averaging 250 miles a day, so it’s all about being able to do as much distance as possible. And the BMWs are just so solid, comfortable and easy to ride and work on. They’ve got a 300-mile tank range – and that was one of our major concerns for places like Mongolia.

"We’ve got 35-litre panniers that can be banged back into shape if they get bashed in, cameras on the front of the bikes, sat-nav and an intercom if I want to talk to Charley. Or I can use it to record my thoughts and he doesn’t have to listen to me wittering on."

THE ROUTE: McGREGOR: "We chose the route because of our original idea to go to China. We looked at the Bering Strait, and thought if we could get there and get across to Alaska, it would be an obvious straight line around the globe. It’s not done often, because it’s not officially recognised as a round-the-world route – you normally have to cross the equator. We’re really just going round the top of the globe. We never even considered the route most people take, down through the southern hemisphere.

"The last part of Russia will be the hardest bit. There are dangerous river crossings and it will potentially be very muddy. Pulling these bikes out of the mud won’t be fun.

"It will be good to get to Canada and the US. There are beautiful roads through the Rockies, and there will be motels and places to eat and people who speak the same language."

BOORMAN: "The other reason for taking this route is that we don’t have that much time. We have families. We don’t want to be away for two years. Also, our route covers the largest possible stretch of landmass. It means more land and less sea."

ACCOMMODATION: McGREGOR: "In the cities we’ll stay in hotels. The idea isn’t to camp our way around the world, it’s just to get around the world. Staying in the odd hotel will let us clean our clothes and get our kit sorted out."

BOORMAN: "We’re also hoping to stay with locals when we can. In Mongolia there are nomadic people, and it’s common for them to put you up. But it will be nice to get a good night’s sleep once in a while in a hotel. There will be a support vehicle with a film crew, but we’ll only meet up with it every seven days. Apart from that, it’s just be us and a cameraman on a third bike."

CRASHING: McGREGOR: "I once came off at Brands Hatch, on the Indy circuit. It was only my second time on a track and I was getting tuition from Terry Rymer, on a Ducati 748. I was improving every lap, to the point when I came round the hairpin and I was right up his arse. Then I went into the S-bends and the next thing I knew I was standing up. There was no in-between. I was chucking it into the corner and then I was standing up and I couldn’t work out what had happened. I managed to fall off straight down the middle of the S-bends, so I stayed on the Tarmac, if not on the bike. Luckily it wasn’t mine!"

Source: MCN

Thank you Mary for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 // 02:44 p.m.


Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 // 00:00 a.m.


Ewan McGregor Begins Epic Tour

26 March 2004

Movie star goes for a sport of motorcycling reality instead of Hollywood make believe - good luck to him and his riding buddy Charley Boorman. Here’s the info from BMW who are providing bikes for the intrepid pair:

Long Way Round – on a BMW R1150 GS Adventure

Actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, will depart this green and pleasant land in April to start an around the world adventure on a BMW motorcycle. The trip will see McGregor and Boorman cover almost 20,000 miles over some of the most difficult and diverse terrain on the planet.

McGregor’s love of all things motorcycling is well-known. The global odyssey will not be anything remotely approaching a holiday because – just to add to the challenge – Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman will make a film of their experiences en route.

This almighty wanderlust is not being promoted as a challenge to Michael Palin’s travel credentials although it is – what film and television industries call – "a project". David Alexanian of Los Angeles based Elixir Films and Russ Malkin of London based Image Wizard TV, along with Ewan and Charley, are producers of the project, entitled "Long Way Round".

Appealing to a global audience, their entire journey, Long Way Round, will also be filmed for a unique television series which will be broadcast on major networks in key markets including the UK, US and Australia. Ewan and Charlie will also be keeping personal diaries and on their return they will publish their personal journals and pictures in a book.

BMW Motorrad Great Britain has provided its all-terrain motorcycle, the R1150 GS Adventure, plus a considerable amount of technical help and practical riding equipment for McGregor, Boorman and the support team. The big BMW has an enviable reputation, based on relentless reliability and unmatched versatility, as the definitive globe-busting machine. Many world adventurers, such as double Guinness world record holders Kevin and Julia Sanders, have used the big enduro motorcycle and relied on its legendary horizontally-opposed twin to complete the trip for them.

The choice of machine was deliberate and arrived at after extensive testing of several manufacturers’ best offerings. Many technical advantages mean that the bike can be used straight from the showroom for such trips. Arguably, the high build quality and such essential features as a maintenance-free drive shaft, long-travel suspension, large capacity fuel tank, adjustable seat and comprehensive rider ergonomics, meant that the R1150 GS Adventure was the most suitable bike for the project.

BMW’s worldwide network of dealerships will also ensure that McGregor and Boorman receive excellent technical and indigenous support (if needed) and a ready availability of parts in the event of a mishap. They won’t get lost either. Each machine will be equipped with a BMW Navigator II, Global Positioning System, which is probably the most advanced automotive product of its type, and is accurate to within 15 metres.

To protect their valuable bodies, and presumably to satisfy the BMW Group insurance company, McGregor and Boorman will be kitted-out in BMW’s ultra-safe advanced rider clothing including Rallye 2 suits and gloves, as well as Thermokomfort undergarments.

Although extremely competent riders, the two friends have also received invaluable rider skills and technical training at BMW’s Off-Road Skills facility in South Wales. Their instructors were Simon Pavey and Nick Plumb, who are only handful of riders who have completed the infamous Paris Dakar Rally.

Leaving Britain in April, McGregor and Boorman will travel across the Continent into East Europe and onto the Ukraine. From there, the planned route takes them to Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Alaska, Canada, and the USA before returning home late in summer.

Source: insidebikes.com

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Friday, March 26, 2004 // 07:39 a.m.


Track Ewan McGregor’s worldwide ride online

24 Mar 2004

Motorcyclenews.com is teaming up with actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman during their planned round-the-world bike trip to bring you regular updates on their progress and essential insight into the production of the "Long Way Round" TV show they’re making during the journey.

As revealed in MCN two weeks ago, the two actors are scheduled to set off next month on an epic, 20,000-mile journey that will take them from the UK through Europe, the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Siberia, Alaska and Canada before getting to America and their final destination, New York.

Over most of the three months of the journey, the pair will travel without any back-up, filming themselves using miniature hand-held and bike-mounted cameras for the Long Way Round documentary series due to be aired in the autumn. They will only meet up with another member of the show’s production team at a few pre-ordained locations for extra filming to take place – and even he will be on a bike. However, they will be in touch with the outside world via satellite phone, and they’ll be using this to give MCN readers regular updates on their progress.

We’re planning to bring you an exclusive column from the pair in MCN every three weeks after they leave in mid April. And next week we’ll have an interview with both McGregor, who plays Obiwan Kenobi in the recent Star Wars films, and Boorman, whose credits include the 1972 Burt Reynolds classic Deliverance, which was directed by his father, John Boorman.

The bikes: A pair of BMW R1150 GS giant trailies have been chosen as McGregor and Boorman’s transport for the journey.

Supplied directly from BMW GB, the bikes will be basically standard, but fitted with options including the vital satellite navigation systems the pair will be relying on for much of the journey. And in the sub-zero temperatures of Siberia, their heated grips will be an essential rather than just a luxury.

By keeping their luggage to a minimum, Boorman and McGregor will be able to carry all the essential equipment the need on the bikes, eliminating the need for any back-up vehicles.

The TV show: Long Way Round is planned to be more than just a travelogue – as it will be packed with personal video diary entries from both Boorman and McGregor as they experience a journey most of us can only dream about.

It’s being co-produced by its stars, along with David Alexanian of Elixir films and Russ Malkin of Image Wizard Television.

Although exact dates and details have yet to be finalised, the series is due to be screened this autumn, and will be accompanied by a book including the travellers’ journals.

Source: MCN

Thanks to Shadowfax for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, March 25, 2004 // 07:24 a.m.


Young Adam gets NC-17 tag

Wed Mar 17, 7:00 PM ET
David Rooney, Yahoo News STAFF

Sony Pictures Classics lost its ratings board appeal Thursday against the NC-17 tag slapped on "Young Adam," making the Ewan McGregor starrer the second film this year from Brit producer Jeremy Thomas to be released under the restrictive rating.

Thomas also produced Bernardo Bertolucci’s "The Dreamers," which went out in February with an NC-17 rating through Fox Searchlight. That erotically charged coming-of-age drama has grossed .2 million to date, making it the U.S. market’s fifth-highest earner ever released under that rating.

Directed by Scottish helmer David McKenzie and premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, "Young Adam" stars McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan and Emily Mortimer in a 1950s-set relationships drama about an amoral drifter who gets caught up in a couple’s passionless marriage.

The defining factor of sex in the characters’ lives and the depiction of the sex act as physical release devoid of romance made the pic one of the more talked-about entries at Cannes.

Thomas flew to Los Angeles to appeal the ratings board’s decision, originally announced in the fall, but the bid was voted down eight to two. Paradoxically, the board objected less to moments of full-frontal nudity than to a particularly intense fully-clothed lovemaking scene.

"I don’t understand why they focused on this scene," Thomas told Daily Variety. "The film is not titillating and it’s not being marketed to sell sex. The scene is an important one; it’s beautifully handled so I don’t want to cut it and I’m very glad Sony will go ahead with the original version."

Sony Classics has set an April 16 release date in the U.S.

"We really think the ratings board has got to get with the program and get with the future," SPC co-president Tom Bernard said. "What’s needed is a hard R rating to distinguish the quality films like ’Young Adam’ and ’The Dreamers’ from ’Debbie Does Dallas’ or any other porn movie."

"Basically, what you’re doing is giving signals to the audience and the MPAA is giving a negative signal right now," Bernard added. "The way it stands, how can an audience distinguish what’s art from what’s hardcore smut? Audiences avoid the picture because of this rating."

Media observers have widely commented that the violence in Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ," among other films, should warrant the NC-17 tag. But historically, that rating has tended to be used more by the Motion Picture Assn. of America to restrict entry to films with explicit sexual content.

"This just underlines the strange anomalous situation between violence and sex," Thomas said. "I’m proud to deal with grown-up themes and filmmakers that have a different code. But the rules are very confusing and I don’t want to be ghettoized in this way."

"The NC-17 rating still has an X-certificate bad smell about it; that’s why we’re all reluctant to accept it," he continued. "It has a negative imprimatur and is misinterpreted by audiences, video stores, newspapers, advertisers and exhibitors."

Top NC-17 grossers in the domestic market to date are "Showgirls" ($20 million), "Henry & June" ($12 million), "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover" ($8 million) and "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" ($4.1 million).

Source: Yahoo News

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, March 18, 2004 // 11:03 p.m.


Elixir Films And Image Wizard TV Announce Long Way ‘Round Starring Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

Motorcycle Round-the-World Series to Begin Lensing in January 2004

In the spirit of “Easy Rider,” David Alexanian, co-founder of Elixir Films and Russ Malkin, president of Image Wizard TV, today announced that the company will begin filming an around-the-world television series, “Long Way ‘Round,” which features film star Ewan McGregor and his best friend, actor Charley Boorman, traversing the globe on motorcycles.

"We plan to start filming in January and finish sometime in August with a view to create ten 1-hour or 13 half-hour programs" said Alexanian. The peripatetic pair will seek to travel across the Earth, covering 20,000 miles in less than three months, with London as their starting point and New York their final destination. The program will be available for the fall, 2004, television season.

“With onboard cameras, a third rider as cameraperson, full crews at specified locations, video diaries and aerial views provided via helicopters, ‘Long Way ‘Round’ promises to make for captivating television,” said Malkin. Combined with Ewan’s sense of humor and Charley’s wild impatience, the program will focus on their spirit of adventure and camaraderie.

With a successful string of feature films behind him, McGregor, a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, is taking four months off from his film schedule to fulfill a lifelong dream for the special television project. “One half the program is about the journey itself, and the other half is about the people Charley and I will be meeting along the way,” said McGregor.

The scheduled itinerary will take the motorcycling duo -- who met years ago on the set of the film “The Serpent’s Kiss” -- through such rarely explored and inhospitable climes as the Russian steppes, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Alaska and the imposing dangers presented by nature’s wilderness, not to mention the various characters they will encounter en route.

The series also promises to be chock-full of humor, capturing the friends’ jovial sparring and philosophical musings on this uniquely challenging journey.

Source: Elixir Films

Thank you Gail and Roxanne for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, March 15, 2004 // 07:09 a.m.


Ewan insured for £20m on epic bike trip

Mar 14 2004
By Toby Mcdonald

Ewan McGregor will be insured for £20 million when he goes on a daredevil motorbike ride through some of the world’s troublespots. Film-makers behind the epic trip have taken out the cover on the intrepid star in case of accidents, terrorism, and kidnapping.

But he could face other dangers when he visits countries such as Mongolia where guests land in trouble if they do not drink as much vodka as their hosts.

McGregor and actor pal Charley Boorman who he met on the set of 1996 film The Serpent’s Kiss are heading for turbulent former Soviet republics on their 20,000 mile bike journey.

A spokesman for the production company behind the film, Image Wizard TV, said: ’There is a lot of money riding on their safety.’

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises British travellers to avoid parts of eastern Europe and Asia.

And Luke March, a lecturer in Soviet and Post Soviet Politics at Edinburgh University, warned: ’The further you get out the cities in Kazakhstan and Siberia there’s a lack of protection. If something did happen you’re very much on your own.

’If you look like a foreigner you can get unwanted attention police and traffic cops will pull you over for nothing and create fines.

’There’s a lot of corruption. The biggest problem they will have will be the roads. Lots of people get killed in the Ukraine because of the lack of lighting and drink driving.’

McGregor and Boorman will be alone on their epic three-month trip, although a backup team will monitor their every move.

McGregor, who has previously crossed America on a Harley Davidson, is determined to enjoy the trip.

He said: ’There are a lot of ’what ifs’ in life which stop you doing stuff.’

The pair’s progress will be watched from a London office and they will be shadowed from a distance by a team of security and medical experts.

Their BMW bikes will be fitted with global satellite positioning equipment accurate to within 50feet.

Image Wizard TV said: ’We’ll be getting feedback from wherever they are. It is imperative their exact location can be pinpointed to a few metres in case of an emergency.

’They have been having a lot of training, which has been carefully set up over the last couple of months.’

McGregor will travel through Europe, Poland, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Alaska and Canada before arriving in the United States. The epic trip called Long Way Round will be filmed on hand-held cameras for 10 one-hour programmes to be shown in the UK, Australia and US. There is also a £1 million book deal.

Foreign Office advice for the regions they plan to visit states: ’There is a high threat from domestic terrorism in Russia, with suicide attacks in public places in Moscow.

’Kidnapping is common and Westerners are particularly vulnerable.

’In Kazakhstan, tuberculosis is widespread, typhoid is on the increase and there have been outbreaks of Hepatitis A and brucellosis.

’Fatal road accidents occur frequently in Mongolia. Even in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, only basic healthcare is available and medicines are scarce.’

Trainspotting star McGregor earns more than £5 million a movie. The success of films such as Moulin Rouge and Star Wars has seen his power soar.

The insurance company have insisted the star’s risks from terrorism and kidnapping be minimised.

An insider said: ’McGregor’s personal insurance against loss of life or personal injury is a minimum of £20 million. A lot of money has been spent so far.

’The project rests on the safety of Ewan, who is executive producer.’

Boyd Harvey at Media Insurance, who are covering the project, added: ’It’s an unusual production.

’Underwriters will impose terms where they think the risk lies, whether you are covering the bikes, people, or equipment. There are specialist insurance companies for the different risk involved in this particular production.’

McGregor and Boorman start their trip in April. They will arrive at their final destination, New York, in July, having taken only one train, plane and boat to get them across the seas.

The pair have been training for the trip for the last few months by learning advanced survival skills such as self-defence, advanced first aid and hostile environment training from former UK Special Forces Soldiers.

They will be riding all-terrain BMW R1150 GS Adventure motorbikes. The 1130cc engines and extra large fuel tanks give them a range of 300 miles.

They even have heated hand grips to deal with the extreme cold.

Source: Sunday Mail

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Saturday, March 13, 2004 // 08:40 p.m.


Pre-order Ewan and Charlie’s book Long Way Round from Amazon

Amazon.co.uk is taking pre-orders on a book that hasn’t been written based on a trip not yet taken for £18.99. It should be released on October 8th 2004, hardcover, 320 pages.

Amazon’s synopsis:

In this highly entertaining and fast-paced travel book, fellow film actors and bike enthusiasts Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman travel 20,000 miles around the world by motorbike, setting each other challenges on the way, from learning Kung Fu in China, to flying a MiG jet in Russia. They also take intensive training courses in preparation for the trip, including bike maintenance, self-defence and survival techniques. Whilst throwing themselves enthusiastically into the culture of each new country - from Alaska to Mongolia, from Canada to Kazakhstan - the two friends also have to rely on each other, testing their friendship and their stamina to the limits. Long Way Round is the action-packed and fascinating account of the trip and a true portrait of friendship in extremis - as irreverent, engaging and articulate as Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman themselves.

Thank you Kate for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, March 9, 2004 // 05:22 p.m.


Bravo PR: Travels with Charley … and Ewan McG.

posted by tvbarn on March 8, 2004 01:13 PM



BURBANK – March 8, 2004 – Actors and friends Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman will star in and co-produce a new Bravo series chronicling their four-month transcontinental journey by motorcycle, "Long Way Round," it was announced today by Jeff Gaspin, President, Bravo. The series will air later this year.

Six one-hour episodes have been ordered of this first person account detailing the events of their upcoming transcontinental motorcycle ride.

"We are thrilled about the opportunity to be a part of Ewan and Charley’s upcoming adventure," said Gaspin. "’Long Way Round’ will offer viewers a unique point of view of the world through the eyes and voices of these two talented and daring individuals. It’s a perfect fit for Bravo."

"We live in such a comfortable and easy time that it doesn’t do yourself any harm to go and test yourselves and survive with just the bare essentials," said McGregor. "This is something that I’ve always wanted to do, it’s a challenge."

Currently training in the UK for this event, McGregor and Boorman will begin their journey in late April starting in London. The pair plans to arrive at their final destination of New York City, by the end of July. This journey will be made by motorbike, with one train, plane and boat to get them across the seas. Both men will undergo training in a variety of areas including nutrition, self-defense, first aid, off road skills, bike maintenance, basic foreign language and cultural awareness skills and hostile environment training from former UK Special Forces Soldiers.

"Long Way Round" will show the actors in a way the audience has never seen them before, utterly left to their own devices and foregoing their more comfortable lifestyle. Their journey is will take them over 20,000 miles, circumnavigating the longest continuous landmass on earth through the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Siberia, Alaska and Canada before arriving in the Untied States. Undoubtedly, they will encounter hardships along the way, including cultural and language barriers as they pitch tent and attempt to live off the land. The journey is not only a test of their endurance, but a cultural lesson too as they will take part in a range of activities native to the lands they traverse.

McGregor is best known for his movie roles in "Moulin Rouge," "Trainspotting", the "Star Wars" trilogy and more recently starred in the Golden Globe nominated film "Big Fish." Boorman, the son of famed director John Boorman ("Hope and Glory," "Deliverance"), is also a movie veteran with a multitude of screen credits including "Deliverance," "Excalibur," "The Serpent’s Kiss," "The Emerald Forest" and many more. The two actors met eight years ago on the set of "Serpent’s Kiss," where they discovered their mutual passion for motorcycles and kick-started an enduring friendship.

"Long Way Round" is produced by David Alexanian of Santa Monica based Elixir Films and Russ Malkin of London based Image Wizard TV.

Bravo, an NBC Cable Network since December 2002, is currently seen in 75 million homes and was the first service dedicated to film and the performing arts when it launched in December 1980. Today, Bravo offers innovative arts and entertainment programming with a unique point of view featuring original series, feature films (both independent and mainstream), theater, dance, music and documentaries. Bravo boasts critically-acclaimed original programming -- including "Inside the Actors Studio" hosted by James Lipton, Emmy Award-winning "Cirque du Soleil Fire Within," and the hit series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "Celebrity Poker Showdown." For more information visit www.bravotv.com.

Source: TV Barn

Thank you ewanfan101 for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, March 8, 2004 // 07:52 p.m.


Ewan’s Japanese Bobson Jeans commercial online!

Japander has unearthed an old commercial that Ewan made in 1998 to advertise Bobson Jeans in Japan. Visit the site to check it (and Ewan’s other Japanese commercials) out!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Friday, March 5, 2004 // 07:10 a.m.


Sony launches Young Adam site

Sony Classics has launched a lovely site for the upcoming film, Young Adam.

Young Adam Site

Filled with lots of photos, cast and crew filmographies, trailer, wallpapers and more; it’s well-worth visiting and exploring.

Thank you Mary for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, March 4, 2004 // 05:50 p.m.



In another warp in the celebrity reality time-space continuum, Bravo is building a reality series around Ewan McGregor, in which the Star Wars star and his pal, actor Charley Boorman (The Emerald Forest) will go globetrotting on motorcycles, visiting remote and forbidding places like Siberia. According to Television Week, the series will be called The Long Way Around, a reference not only to the actors’ wanderings, but also to the title of an old episode of ER in which the future Trainspotting star played a convenience store robber. No air date yet for the series, which is already in production.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Thank you Mary for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, March 4, 2004 // 07:12 a.m.


Trainspotting wins best film poll

Tuesday, 24 February, 2004

The film Trainspotting has been voted the public’s favourite Scottish movie of all time, according to a new poll.

Thousands voted for the movie, adapted from Irvine Welsh’s novel depicting life in Edinburgh, in The List magazine poll.

Directed by Danny Boyle, it was a hit with audiences and a launchpad for Scots star Ewan McGregor’s career.

Voters used by e-mail and text to put the film in the number one slot out of 50 films put forward by the magazine.

The result of the vote was announced at 1900 GMT on Tuesday with the winner being shown on the big screen at the UGC Cinema in Glasgow.

All time favourite

Miles Fielder, editor of the listings and film guide, said: "Following the publication of the film guide it has been fascinating and exciting to understand what the general public view as their favourite Scottish film of all time.

"We are delighted to have been able to demonstrate how great Scottish films are and we hope this guide will encourage people to watch more Scottish films, past and present.

"When Trainspotting arrived over a decade ago it was hailed by the critics and public as Scotland and Britain’s answer to matching the coolest films Hollywood had been producing.

"It’s therefore a great thing it has been voted as the best Scottish film of all time."

Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport Frank McAveety added: "This event is welcome because it raises the profile of Scottish film.

"From the whimsical comedy of Whisky Galore and Gregory’s Girl to the urban realism of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, our movies have left an indelible mark on the Scottish psyche."

Source: BBC News

Thanks to Ewan Rocks Webmistress for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 // 07:17 a.m.



Description from Yahoo Movies: Set on a world populated entirely by robots, this is the story of a young genius, Rodney (Ewan McGregor), who wants to make robots capable of making the world a better place, but he finds his dream challenged by a corporate tyrant and a master inventor, Big Weld (Mel Brooks), while also being seduced by a sexy corporate robot, Cappy (Halle Berry).

Mattel is coming out with a line of toys and games for Robots. Here’s an image found at action-figure.com:

Thank you Mary for the find!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, February 23, 2004 // 07:22 a.m.


Big Fish DVD to be released on April 27, 2004

Amazon.com has Big Fish on DVD available for preorder for US.27.

According to The Digital Bits, Columbia TriStar has also announced the DVD release of Tim Burton’s Big Fish for April 27 (SRP .95). The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with director Tim Burton, 3 "character journey" featurettes (Edward Bloom at Large, Amos at the Circus, and Fathers and Sons), 4 "filmmakers’ path" featurettes (Tim Burton: The Storyteller, A Fairytale World, Creature Features, and The Author’s Journey), an interactive trivia quiz and bonus trailers.

Thanks to Stefanie for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 // 07:19 a.m.


Young Adam will be released uncensored in North America with an NC-17 rating!

February 11, 2004
Richard Johnson

McGregor’s full-frontal scene earned Young Adam an NC-17 rating, which Sony Pictures Classics plans to appeal. "But they’re not going to cut the scene," insists our source, "they are going to release the movie with Ewan’s [bleep] in it, no matter what." McGregor’s member is set to beguile moviegoers in April.

Source: New York Post

Let’s hope their source is correct and that the movie is released uncensored!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 // 07:14 a.m.


Young Adam to play at Austin, Texas film festival

Young Adamuncensored!

Austin film festival lineup announced

Posted on Tue, Feb. 10, 2004
Associated Press

NEW YORK - The futuristic "Code 46," starring current Oscar nominees Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton, will have its United States premiere on opening night at the South by Southwest film festival.

The film from director Michael Winterbottom ("24 Hour Party People," "The Claim") is among nearly 200 being shown at the festival, which runs from March 12-20 in Austin, Texas.

"Code 46" is about an insurance investigator (Robbins) and a woman (Morton) who have an affair, but their relationship is complicated by the proliferation of cloning.

Robbins is up for a supporting-actor Oscar for "Mystic River," while Morton is nominated for best actress for "In America."

Also on the South by Southwest schedule, announced Monday, are Lars Von Trier’s controversial "Dogville," starring Nicole Kidman; Kevin Smith’s "Jersey Girl," with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez; "Intermission," with Colin Farrell; and "Young Adam," with Ewan McGregor.

"We’re really excited about the program this year," festival producer Matt Dentler said. "I think it represents a broad perspective of amazing cinema from around the world."

Among the films on the documentary lineup are "Bush’s Brain," about presidential adviser Karl Rove; and "Super Size Me," about the fast-food industry, which earned Morgan Spurlock a directing prize at Sundance.

ON THE NET: http://www.sxsw.com

Source: Star-Telegram.com

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 // 10:54 p.m.


Gnomeo Talent Lining Up

9:00am ET, 3-February-04

Don Hahn, producer of Disney’s computer animated SF film Gnomeo and Juliet, told SCI FI Wire that Elton John and Tim Rice have written songs for the upcoming animated movie. Hahn added that Ewan McGregor (Star Wars: Episode III) remains attached to voice the lead character in the computer-animated tale about star-crossed love between ceramic gnomes.

"[We have] great songs by Elton John and Tim Rice," Hahn said in an interview. "Early on, Ewan McGregor was attached to it [to voice Gnomeo] and still is, so I think as with any movie, it’s about story and trying to get the story on its feet. So we’re trying to keep our ducks in a row and do that first before we bring in the big guns."

Hahn added, "The writers have it, and they’re trying to launch it to see if we can get a solid story before we take off and make it." The film has been in development for two years.

Source: Sci Fi Wire

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, February 3, 2004 // 12:29 p.m.


Family Angle for Ewan

February 1, 2004

Ewan McGregor has movie star fame and wealth, but he remains completely hooked on his wife and two young daughters, reports LAWRIE MASTERSON

During the four months he was in Alabama making Tim Burton’s film Big Fish, Ewan McGregor and his wife Ève Mavrakis packed up their daughters Clara, almost 8, and Esther, 3, and drove down to Florida for a long weekend.

At breakfast one morning they were astounded to see a mother feeding an 18-month-old baby while the child watched cartoons on a miniature DVD player attached to his high chair.

“She was spooning food into his mouth and it was sad – there was no connection between them,” McGregor said in New York. “Already at one and a half, this kid’s life was about watching television.”

And that is something the McGregor children do not get to do very often, unless a program is about, say, animals.

“It’s too easy,” he said. “We protect them from that mindlessness.”

McGregor, 32, the charismatic Scot who became an international star in Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave (1994) and Trainspotting (1995) and has gone on to movies such as Star Wars (Episodes 1 and 2), Moulin Rouge! and Black Hawk Down, always has been reticent to talk about his family, but he makes no bones about putting his wife and daughters before his career.

“Everything is about supporting that,” he said.

“It means everything to me. I’ve never been happier about anything else in my life. There’s nothing that would come close to making me feel happy and making me feel complete as them.

“Work doesn’t come near it, but at the same time my wife supports me while I’m doing my work which, in turn, supports my family, so it’s a beautiful thing.”

For entertainment, McGregor much prefers reading stories to his children or allowing them to watch old movies.

“My profession is that of a storyteller, if you like,” he said. "I act out stories for a living and I’ve always loved it. I love hearing stories and being told stories in the theatre and so do my children.

“I don’t let my children watch television and they don’t have computer games. They read books and they watch old, classic movies and we make up stories and stuff.

“We show them a lot of Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton and I’ve found that really from a very young age they’ve been incredibly focused on that.

“I think it’s a danger that people sit their kids in front of a television instead of spending time with them and I think it’s a danger when seven-year-old kids have televisions in their own bedrooms and their own phone lines.”

McGregor kept his family together throughout the filming of Big Fish, in which he plays the young version of the lead character Edward Bloom.

The older version, played by Albert Finney, has always told improbable stories about his life, alienating his own son Will, (Billy Crudup).

Now, with Edward dying, Will is trying to separate myth from reality of his father’s life and come to terms with his feats and failings.

Based on Daniel Wallace’s book Big Fish, A Story Of Mythic Proportions, the movie was nominated in the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category at last week’s Golden Globe Awards.

McGregor, in jeans, an open-necked white shirt and dark-rimmed glasses at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, said filming in and around the sleeping central Alabama town of Wetumpka was almost like a nine-to-five job.

“I had a very nice time there. There’s a lovely kind of neighbourly feeling in that part of the world and a community feeling that’s very strong, and that’s not in the cities.

“When I would come back (from the set) my daughters would be playing with the neighbours’ daughters and were, like, kids in each other’s yards and there was a freedom that we’ve lost in other parts of the world.

“I was lulled into a kind of normality of life where I would leave in the morning in my truck and do a day’s work and arrive back in time to have dinner with the family.

“I learned to fish there and I found myself fishing quite a lot and I very much enjoyed the landscape.”

He found working with the always quirky, sometimes dark Tim Burton (Planet of the Apes, Sleepy Hollow, Batman and Batman Returns) equally enjoyable.

“He’s a master film-maker, there’s no question about that,” McGregor said.

“His touch was all over the script and I couldn’t have imagined anyone else directing it, especially from my side of it.

“The stuff I play, the young Bloom, where it’s not fantastical but it’s slightly larger than life, is absolutely Tim’s area, you know, and I was delighted.”

“While obviously he did not share any scenes with Albert Finney, McGregor described as “extraordinary” the experience of meeting and working behind the scenes with the lauded, 68-year-old British star.

“I was so honoured to be playing the younger him. He’s a beautiful man.

“We met when we got to Alabama with all the other actors and we did spend some time together in an attempt to find some links between the ways we played the character.

“We had fly fishing lessons together and we worked on the same Southern accent with the same dialect coach.”

Source: Sunday Herald Sun, February 1, 2004 : IE (Inside Entertainment) magazine lift-out, page 7.

Thank you shadowfax for typing out the article!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, February 1, 2004 // 05:46 p.m.


Empire Awards to be Televised

The Sony Ericsson Empire Awards (for which Ewan is nominated for best British actor and Young Adam is nominated for best British film) will be broadcast live in the UK on Sky Movies 1 on Wednesday 4 February from 8pm, with highlights repeated at 11pm on Thursday 5 February on Sky Movies 3.

Source: Empire Online

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Thursday, January 29, 2004 // 07:21 a.m.


Box office numbers for Big Fish

Big Fish is doing quite well at the North American box office:

Big Fish swims into fourth spot, holding well compared to last weekend. Big Fish grossed .3 million in its third weekend of wide release, down only 29% compared to its .3 million three-day gross last weekend. The hold is incredible because percentage drops should be somewhat higher following a long weekend due to a larger availability of patrons on the Sunday night prior to a Monday holiday. The good hold is partly due to attention received by the Golden Globes telecast on Sunday night; awareness for award-worthy films goes up as awards season begins. Also helping the hold is the fact that both of this weekend’s openers were aimed at young adults, giving films that skew older like Big Fish an opportunity to excel. Speaking of awards, Big Fish could use a little awards help. It now has a cumulative gross of .1 million versus a production budget of about million.

Source: Box Office Prophets

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 // 12:49 p.m.


"lying around naked with a beautiful woman is not a problem for me…"

By Bernard Bale
28 January 2004

Ewan McGregor doesn’t mind letting it all hang out, he tells BERNARD BALE

Ewan McGregor is a big fish in Big Fish, which will hit our cinema screens very soon, but no matter how big a star he becomes ­ and he is a big star ­ Ewan remains a law unto himself as far as the movie business is concerned. That doesn’t bother a huge fan following ­ who voted him the sexiest man alive, an honour which took him by surprise.

"I was really flattered when I heard about that," he said. "Harrison Ford and Sean Connery were next on the list so that is quite something. Imagine me finishing ahead of Sean Connery? Since I am a Scot it is all the more flattering. I am going to have to spend more time in Scotland!"

For an actor who has been the toast of several towns and is on just about every guest list from Hawick to Hollywood, Ewan McGregor is quite unassuming about his fame.

"I don’t really think about it," he admitted. "I always think that the best part of my job is meeting famous people. I still get a kick out of it. I like the glitz and big cars of Hollywood, but I still see myself as a tourist and I get a bit starstruck if I bump into someone famous."

Even though he has not yet recognised his own fame and popularity, Ewan has come to terms with being stared at in the street.

"It took a little while at first," he said. "It can be quite amusing when someone looks at you, recognises you, but is not quite sure. By the time they realise who they have seen, you have gone. I don’t really mind being stared at unless I am with my family. I like to be allowed to be a family man sometimes, but when I am on my own I don’t really mind the stares and pointing fingers.

"I don’t mind if people want to speak to me, so long as they don’t want to get into a long conversation when I am in a rush. I don’t like to be rude to people, but time is always a problem."

Ewan obviously values his family time and tries to spend as much time as possible at his London home, although he seems to be regularly jetting off to some other part of the world.

"My family is my greatest pastime," he revealed. "My family takes priority and I hate being away from them. I do have a passion for motorbikes and I get a great sense of freedom from everything when I get one of my bikes out and take off, but I am really quite a home bird.

"I am married to Ève and our daughters are Clara and Esther. If I am away I talk to them as often as possible by phone. Strictly speaking, in the movie business home is wherever you hang your hat. You can be in LA for months or even halfway up a mountain in India. For me, home is wherever my family might be."

Ève Mavrakis --­ Mrs. Ewan McGregor -- ­ is a French designer who has turned screenwriter, and recently disappointed Ewan by saying that she would like Johnny Depp to take the lead for her latest film, For Love Of Art.

"That was nice, wasn’t it," joked Ewan. "Here I am saying how wonderful my wife is, hanging on her every word, and when she gets a good film she overlooks me in favour of Johnny Depp!"

Since his parents ran a local film club in Crieff, his uncle is acclaimed actor Dennis Lawson and Ewan was himself hooked on old black and white films shown regularly on BBC2, there is little wonder that he decided at an early age to become an actor himself.

"I was a late starter," he joked. "I did not make up my mind until I was nine. I asked my uncle how to become an actor and he just told me to shut up and ask him again when I was ten years older. I think he thought it was just a passing fad. I didn’t ask him because ten years later I was already on the ladder. I started at Perth Rep as an extra in Passage to India. They had already turned me down when I wanted to join them, but I think they were so desperate for extras that they took me on."

It turned out to be a ’passage to Hollywood’ since Ewan’s very early beginnings led to him becoming one of the biggest stars of movie land.

"I am enjoying myself, especially with the Star Wars series," he admitted.

"I loved Star Wars when I was a kid and I still like to watch the older versions. I often say it is for research, but the truth is I just like watching the movies. To be appearing in the more recent versions is just fantastic."

"If I had not made it I think I might have liked to be a rock star," Ewan said. "At school I played the French Horn because nobody else wanted to. I was keen on music and I can play guitar and drums. I have sung in a few films too and I really enjoy it. I am not a frustrated rock star, but I would love to have my own rock band and make big-selling albums and maybe tour some of the really big concert halls. It must be great to be face-to-face with tens of thousands of people and have them join in with your songs."

Perhaps his love of music and singing is the secret behind Ewan’s very popular party piece. "Oh yes, my famous party piece," he laughed. "Usually I do an Elvis impersonation. I have always done that at gatherings of family and friends and amazingly they still ask me to do it. I don’t know if I am good at it but I like the music and I haven’t had any complaints. Mind you, I haven’t been offered a job playing Elvis in a film either so maybe it’s not so good after all!"

Playing Elvis is not a big ambition but Ewan does have his sights firmly set on a return to the stage.

"I want to make more films of course but I like to make quality films," he explained. "You can get a lot of money appearing in rubbish, but I don’t want that. I would like to return to the stage more in the future. That’s really where it started for me and I do enjoy appearing on stage with a live audience. I hope there is more of that to come."

No doubt his hordes of female fans will also be hoping to be able to see him on stage, especially if he makes one of his regular nude appearances. "I do seem to have been naked in quite a few films, don’t I," he said. "I don’t know why, it just seems to be the kind of role I get. It doesn’t bother me, in fact it can be fun at times. Lying around naked with a beautiful woman is not a big problem for me, even if it is only for a film."

Ewan is obviously speaking with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. He still finds it hard to understand why he has such a fan following.

"I am just a Scottish actor," he said. "I don’t even think I am a romantic. When it comes to wine and roses, I think I am more of a wine man than a roses man. Eve, my wife, is French and is therefore naturally romantic, so she must think I am a romantic too, though I am not sure if I show it as well as I should."

Whether he is a romantic or not, Ewan McGregor is definitely a winner among his legions of fans. He is also a winner at the cinema box office, which is why there are queues to get him on contract. After Big Fish comes Star Wars Episode III, then Stay followed by Robots, and he has even signed to provide a voice for the curiously-named Gnomeo and Juliet, which is due to be completed for 2006.

"I am pretty busy but I am not complaining," he said. "I don’t want my wife to start thinking of giving me a job as an extra in one of her films!"

Source: LAM

Thank you Mary for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 // 12:36 p.m.


Empire’s Nominations Announced


It’s been a jolly good week for Peter Jackson and the other inhabitants of Middle-earth. Not only was Return of the King nominated for 11 Oscars on Tuesday, but the film is also leading the nominations for the 2004 Sony Ericsson Empire Awards. Blazing ahead with a total of eight nods, it looks as though Empire’s readers are determined to see justice done by the trilogy’s final instalment and make sure Jackson and co go out with a bang.

Also duking it out in the Best Film category will be Pirates of the Caribbean (which gained five overall nominations), Cold Mountain (also with five), Kill Bill (which received four) and X-Men 2. Jackson, Tarantino and Minghella will have to wrestle with Peter Weir and the Coen Brothers for Best Director.

Actors par excellence were topped by Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman, Viggo Mortensen, Daniel Day-Lewis and, pleasingly, good old Sean Astin for his role as stalwart hobbit Samwise Gamgee. The girls, on the other hand, comprised Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett and, surprisingly, Maggie Gyllenhaal for her role in Secretary.

’And what about us Brits?’ you cry. Well, Richard Curtis will be chuffed, gaining five nominations for Love Actually and facing off against Calendar Girls, Young Adam, Stephen Fry’s Bright Young Things and, in an interesting turn, Johnny English. In the thesping stakes, names like Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Orlando Bloom, Emma Thompson and Keira Knightley are all present and correct with Martine McCutcheon, Mackenzie Crook and Andrew Lincoln among those in with a hope for Best Newcomer.

The Awards will kick off on Wednesday 4 February, when all will be revealed. It goes without saying that the Empire Online team will (in varying states of inebriation) be working through the night to bring you the very best Awards coverage you could imagine, so be sure to check back the minute, nay the second it happens.

The full list of nominees:

Best Newcomer
Martine McCutcheon (Love, Actually)
Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Fenella Woolgar (Bright Young Things)
Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually)
Eli Roth (Cabin Fever)

Sony Ericsson Scene of the Year
Ride of the Rohirrim (Return of the King)
House of the Blue Leaves (Kill Bill)
Opening Battle (Master and Commander)
The flag speech (Gangs of New York)
The rum scene (Pirates of the Caribbean)

Best British Actress
Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Emma Thompson (Love Actually)
Julie Walters (Calendar Girls)
Helen Mirren (Calendar Girls)
Emily Mortimer (Young Adam)

Best British Actor
Jude Law (Cold Mountain)
Andy Serkis (Return of the King)
Sir Ian Mckellen (Return of the King)
Orlando Bloom (Return of the King)
Ewan McGregor (Young Adam)

Best British Film
Love, Actually
Calendar Girls
Johnny English
Young Adam
Bright Young Things

Best Actress
Uma Thurman (Kill Bill)
Nicole Kidman (Cold Mountain)
Julianne Moore (Heaven)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary)
Cate Blanchett (Veronica Guerin)

Best Actor
Johnny Depp (Pirates)
Viggo Mortensen (Return of the King)
Hugh Jackman (X2)
Sean Astin (Return of the King)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York)

Best Director
Peter Jackson (Return of the King)
Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill)
Coens (Intolerable Cruelty)
Anthony Minghella (Cold Mountain)
Peter Weir (Master and Commander)

Best Film
Return of the King
Kill Bill
Pirates of the Caribbean
Cold Mountain

Source: Empire Online

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 // 07:57 a.m.


Oscar nominations

The Oscar nominations are out and Big Fish recieved only one nod for Best Original Score. Ewan’s old friend Jude Law was nominated for Best Actor for Cold Mountain. This is Jude’s second nomination.

Posted by ewanspotting.com on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 // 10:27 a.m.


New picture of Ewan from Stay

Pharmacopia has posted a new picture of Ewan from his upcoming film, Stay. Click on the link to see it!

Thank you Barbsch for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 // 06:50 a.m.


Seconds Out… Round Wan

Jan 27 2004
By Michael Christie

Store boss forks out £25,000 to battle Star Wars Ewan with laser guns

A BUSINESSMAN has vowed to give £25,000 to charity so he can play a kids’ game with Hollywood star Ewan McGregor.

Ewan, who plays Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars films, will swap his light sabre for a laser pistol to take on Gadget Shop boss Chris Gorman at Laser Quest.

The cash is part of almost £350,000 pledged to Children’s Hospice Association Scotland and Sargent Cancer Care at a star studded Burns supper held in London on Sunday.

Laser Quest players wear a breastplate that registers hits from special laser guns.

And Chris said: "It’s not the sort of thing that Ewan normally does but I asked him if he would be up for it and he said yes.

"I haven’t decided on whether it will be the kids or the grown-ups that take him on just yet but I’ll be in touch.

"It’s a fantastic idea and lovely that the money will be going to charity.

"We want a re-enactment of Star Wars but this time Obi-Wan is going down."

Comedian Eddie Izzard bid £2800 for a pair of his ’n’ hers kilts made by Galas hie ls-based Lochcarron of Scotland.

Then Burns fan Eddie accepted a £1500 challenge from Ewan, who hosted the bash with Texas lead singer Sharleen Spiteri and comic Fred McAuley, to recite the poem Johnnie Lad, Cock Up Your Beaver.

As revealed yesterday, Scots tycoon Tom Hunter paid £250,000 for a private Texas gig.

Hunter had set Sharleen a challenge to play at his Scottish Entrepreneurial Exchange Ball later this year.

Source: Daily Record

Thank you xcbug for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, January 26, 2004 // 10:19 p.m.


New Ewan interview online

Monday, 26 Jan 2004

John Kilbride of Scotland Today wrote to let me know of a new Big Fish Ewan interview at Scotland Today.

It’s available in Quicktime, Real Player and Windows Media.

Thank you again, John!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, January 26, 2004 // 07:24 a.m.


Win Odeon goodies and movie tickets

Jan 26 2004

We’ve teamed up with the Odeon SkyDome Coventry to give away five pairs of tickets to see Tim Burton’s new movie Big Fish along with loads of movie goodies!

The prizes we’ve got to give away include:

x2 Big Fish t-shirts
x2 Big Fish baseball caps
x5 Paycheck long sleeve t-shirts
x5 Monsters Inc videos
x5 Odeon Film Fanatic 2004 calendars

The top two winners will get one of each with the three runners up getting a Paycheck t-shirt, video and calendar each along with the usual pairs of tickets.

Just answer the following question:

Ewan McGregor stars in Big Fish. Which character does he play in the Star Wars series of movies?

A) R2-D2
B) Obi-Wan Kenobi
C) C-3PO

Email your answer to:


:: Please note that due to the size of the prizes all winners must be able to collect their goodies from the Coventry Evening Telegraph offices in Corporation Street which is open from 9am - 5.30pm Mon - Fri and 9am - 12.30pm on Saturdays.

Closing Date: 10am Monday 2 February

Terms and Conditions
The Films shown at the Odeon SkyDome Coventry are liable to change on a weekly basis.
If the film in question is no longer showing at the Odeon @ SkyDome Coventry another title may be watched with the winning tickets at the Manager’s discretion.

Odeon Film Line: 0870 50 50 007


Source: Ic Coventry

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, January 26, 2004 // 07:23 a.m.


Ewan McGregor: A life more ordinary

23 January 2004

Ewan McGregor’s latest film is a Tim Burton fantasy. But, he tells James Rampton, far more magical for him is his plan to ride round the world on two wheels - even it means missing telling his daughters bedtime stories

I’m sitting quietly watching the elegant antique clock on the mantelpiece in a vast, ornate room at the Dorchester Hotel, in London, when Ewan McGregor bursts in, a ball of irrepressible energy and youthful vigour. Without even bothering to plonk himself down on the sumptuous antique sofa - sitting is for wimps - he remarks, laughing, that you could accommodate several homeless families in this gargantuan suite.

He is tickled to hear that I interviewed Jerry Springer in the very same room just two months ago. "I hear he has political ambitions now," the actor smiles. "If it was a choice between Springer and Bush, I’d vote for Springer every time."

McGregor is clearly on a high. Dressed down in a zip-up top and jeans, which contrast with the formality of the surroundings in the posh suite, he is bubbling with excitement about his forthcoming "adventure of a lifetime" with his best friend, Charley Boorman (son of the director John). In April, they are planning to set off on a 15-week, 20,000-mile tour right around the world on motorbikes. They are testing out various bikes and plotting the trip in a west-London office. With the air of a child who has been locked inside a Toys’R’Us warehouse overnight, McGregor beams: "I’m happy as Larry. I love motorcycles. You’re on your own and you make your own decisions - unlike films, where everything’s decided for you. I love the long journeys - they represent independence for me. Bikes are my passion. From the moment I first tried one on a racetrack, something happened. It’s so exhilarating; it makes me feel more alive."

So, life is good - except for one thing. Ève Mavrakis, McGregor’s French wife, has just completed her first screenplay. A dark thriller about "snuff movies", For Love of Art would appear to have the perfect leading role for her husband - a world-weary detective. But, much to his consternation, he is not the actor she has in mind for the part. "She said, ’Do you know who I’d really like to play the lead part? Johnny Depp.’ So I said, ’Thank you very much - that’s nice!’"

His wife would appear to be just about the only person not clamouring to have McGregor starring in their movie right now. The 32-year-old Scot is perhaps the most popular commodity in Hollywood this side of Botox. So just what endows him with his must-have status? Meeting him gives me an inkling. It’s not just that, with his sparkly eyes, mischievous smile and dimple, he is drop-dead gorgeous - after all, matinee-idol looks are 10 a penny in the land where the cosmetic surgeon is king. No, more than that, the actor radiates what cigar-chomping Tinseltown execs like to call "the X-factor". Over the course of a lively hour and a half, it is clear that he possesses a twinkle that could charm the birds out of trees several counties away. It’s a self-confident appeal that magnetises both sexes. This man has charisma to burn.

As we sip mineral water - he has sworn off the booze for three years now (more of which anon) - he also displays a wry sense of irony that is perhaps too subtle for some journalists. McGregor smiles as he remembers how a straitlaced women’s magazine took him at face value when he was asked if he was concerned about appearing naked in films. "I said, ’I’m not worried about it, because I do have a very large penis.’ I did say those words, but I didn’t mean them. They ended up as the headline in this magazine!"

His latest movie exploits the sort of livewire presence that - if harnessed to the national grid - could illuminate Scotland. In Big Fish, a typically imaginative and visually ravishing Tim Burton picture that has picked up seven Bafta nominations this week - including best film and best director - McGregor plays the young Edward Bloom (the older version is portrayed by Albert Finney).

Edward is a serial fantasist who regales his increasingly bored son with endless tall tales of encounters with monstrous fish, giants, circus freaks, bank robbers and conjoined twins. Despite the spuriousness of his stories, people can’t help falling in love with the eternally gregarious fibber. Even as he is being pummelled by a jealous love rival, McGregor’s Edward maintains a smile to soften the hardest hearts.

Helena Bonham Carter’s character, who has suffered an unrequited passion for Edward for many years, observes near the end of the movie: "If there was one thing you could say about Edward Bloom, it was that he was a social person and people took a liking to him." Sounds like a pleasing synergy between actor and character, doesn’t it?

But the movie is not merely a gooey, feel-good fairy tale; it has something to say about the power of storytelling. "Stories are our dreams, really," muses McGregor, who is the proud father of Clara (aged seven) and Esther (two). "That’s why we tell stories. They’re what makes us interesting and what connects us with one another from generation to generation. Without them, all we’d be left with is politics and supermarkets. And what kind of world would that be?"

He goes on to underline how we all have an innate need for stories. "If you go back to the beginning of time, people were telling stories around the campfire. As a kid, I used to love watching old black-and-white movies on BBC2 - I didn’t care what they were. I remember being propped up on my elbows of a winter afternoon, watching things like It Happened One Night. That was a fascination with stories - and the reason why I’m an actor now. It’s the same with Esther. As soon as she gets up, all she wants is books. She loves them."

Like Edward in Big Fish, we all relish dramatising our own lives. "When you get home, the first thing you do is recount your stories of the day," McGregor continues. "Being a Celt, I love the idea of poems and tunes being passed down through the generations. At the moment, I’m telling Clara stories about things that have happened in my life. Once she’s got past her bewilderment that I was ever a child, she’s fascinated by them.

"We naturally embellish these stories - to the point where we come to see the embellishments as reality. We don’t want to tell mediocre stories - ’Listen, something really average happened to me today…’" Cinemas, the actor reckons, are the campfires of today. "But instead of sitting in our parents’ lap, we sit in front of a big screen to hear the stories. That’s why it feels so cosy in the cinema."

In Big Fish - as in Young Adam, last year’s acclaimed portrait of existential angst - McGregor seems a very relaxed presence on screen. Acting appears to come naturally to him. He attributes this to having cut a lot of the frippery out of his life.

"Acting feels more manageable these days," he confirms. "In the past, things were quite hectic for me. But now I’m just concentrating on what’s in front of the camera. I focus less on all the trappings - the celebrity, the assistants and the make-up artists."

He would be the first to admit that at one time he enjoyed the frantic showbiz existence. "Before? Well, I was just trying to squeeze in far too many things." Now, though, he feels that he has grown out of that frenetic, starry lifestyle. "I’m not interested in being famous. I am very, very interested in being successful - there’s a big difference. Fame is such a bore; I can’t be arsed with it."

He pauses, and reveals: "I was very relieved to get out of my twenties - I think that I’ve mellowed a lot. I’m no longer 25 and tearing around. I’m a husband and have two beautiful children - that is much more important to me. I no longer find happiness with strangers in pubs. I get it at home with my wife and kids. So that’s certainly the way my life’s changed. I work, and then I want to get home to see them."

Pointedly taking a sip of water, McGregor says it helped no end when he resolved to give up drinking three years ago. "I couldn’t do it all," he recalls. "I couldn’t be a good father and a good actor and a good drinker. Something had to go - and it was the drink. I had drunk enough. I can’t tell you, it’s 100 per cent better waking up feeling good." He says that abstinence has made him much more aware of how prevalent the drinking-culture is in Britain. "I’d been out of the country for a while, so over New Year I was a Radio 4 junkie. From morning till night, I was saying to the family, ’Shush! I’m listening to Radio 4.’

"But I was shocked to hear that on New Year’s Eve three pieces on the Today programme were about curing hangovers. It was all about the best way to feel better the morning after. Well, the best way is not to drink at all! Radio 4 seemed to be condoning the excessive use of alcohol."

There is only one other subject guaranteed to make McGregor quite so livid. You’ve guessed it: the tabloids. He is particularly riled by their obsession with knocking celebrities. "The press will always be bitchy," he sighs. "I remember being in a Glasgow cinema last year. There were just three people there - me and two old ladies. We were watching The Son’s Room, a very moving Italian film about a family grieving. "Anyway, in the middle of this beautiful film, the mother and father begin to kiss in bed. As they were doing this, the two women behind me started tut-tutting. I thought, ’What’s the matter? These characters are married. Are a husband and wife not allowed to kiss?’ These two women had obviously not been kissed themselves for rather too long.

"But that tutting is the noise the tabloids make. No one’s allowed to do anything in their world. If you’re in any way recognised for anything, they’ll go, ’He thinks he’s so fucking great.’ They have to belittle you. They can’t say, ’This guy has achieved something - isn’t that good?’ A whole industry is now devoted to squashing people who’ve done something with their lives. It pisses me off."

He gives a recent example: "In the Scottish press the other day, they said, ’Ewan McGregor is doing his round-the-world bike trip, and it will apparently be pretty tough, but we think he’ll really be staying in five-star hotels and eating Harrods hampers.’ I’ve never even seen a Harrods hamper in this country - let alone in the Mongolian steppes!"

McGregor thinks that the red-tops’ celeb-bashing runs the risk of getting out of hand. "We don’t stand a chance," he declares, the exasperation clear in his voice. "Whole magazines are now devoted to picturing celebs with no make-up on - ’Look, this person woke up this morning.’

"Posh and Becks are walking through an airport, pursued by 15 paparazzi, and according to these publications the problem is that they are angry with each other - ’You can see by her downturned eyes that she’s not happy.’ You don’t think she might have downturned eyes because she is being followed by 15 maniacs with cameras?"

Still, McGregor concedes that he isn’t as badly affected as some of his mates. "I have friends who really suffer," he says, presumably referring to those fixtures of the tabloid press, Jude Law and Sadie Frost. "They must feel like they’re living in a prison."

The invasion of privacy is something the actor obviously feels strongly about - he recently won an injunction against a photographic agency that had taken unauthorised snaps of his children on holiday. In addition, McGregor sees a danger in papers setting themselves up as guardians of morality. "All our tabloid press is based on morals that don’t belong to anyone," he fumes. "Morality used to come from the church; now it comes from the tabloids. Those newspapers want to create a bland, beige existence. But if everyone behaved as they want us to, it would be a horribly dull world and they’d be out of a job! Every day I hear stories about the tabloids hounding someone who doesn’t fit into their world-view. Morals out of the mouths of morons!"

The good news is, these complaints have not put McGregor off being an actor - a career he has always wanted to pursue. Growing up in Crieff, Perthshire, the son of James and Carol, both teachers, he idolised his uncle, Denis Lawson, who played Wedge Antilles in the Star Wars films. McGregor recalls: "Ever since I was tiny, aged four or five, I’d mime to songs at my parents’ parties, putting on a show." After school, McGregor attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where in 1993 he was spotted for his first major role, in Dennis Potter’s Channel 4 series Lipstick on Your Collar. From there, he graduated to the movies and began a fruitful association with the film-maker Danny Boyle in Shallow Grave. He collaborated with the same director on his breakthrough picture, Trainspotting, and his Hollywood debut, A Life Less Ordinary.

He went on to star in such diverse works as The Pillow Book, Emma, Brassed Off, Velvet Goldmine, Rogue Trader and Little Voice. In many of those movies, he showed an eagerness to strip off. In another phrase larded with irony, McGregor teases: "I’m doing my bit for the women’s movement. The women have always been naked in movies, and now I’m just desperate to take my clothes off as much as possible."

It was a run of four huge box-office smashes - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Moulin Rouge and Black Hawk Down - that sealed McGregor’s stardom. The success of those movies is likely to keep him in motorbikes for the foreseeable future. Next year, the actor will be returning to our screens as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the next instalment of the Star Wars saga. He spent several months in Australia making the film last year. He has been quoted as saying that the Star Wars episodes are "very tedious to make - there’s no two ways about that."

When I ask him now if he will look back fondly on the process of making the films, he bursts out laughing for a good 30 seconds, before admitting: "I have to be so careful, or they come down on me like a ton of bricks." Choosing his words precisely, McGregor continues: "I’ll always be glad to have been in them, for the children’s sake. When they come up and ask, ’How does a light sabre work?’, it’s great. I like that sense of wonder. But perhaps the making of them became more important than the performances - which is always a mistake."

Well, McGregor could always come back and make another movie in this country. He holds undeniably strong views about the British film industry. His experiences on Young Adam, which was finally made only after several budgetary hold-ups, evidently fired the actor up. "So many films these days are simplistic and treat the audience like fools," he asserts. "We’ve lost the plot in Britain. It’s important that we make films like Young Adam - risky, edgy stuff. If we keep churning out cheesy romantic comedies about people getting married, audiences will get bored. They make whole movies dedicated to people desperate to get married. Who cares? I don’t know these people. Who are they? And where do they live? Notting Hill, I suppose!"

McGregor tried to put his money where his mouth was by setting up Natural Nylon, a production company, with his fellow actors Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Sean Pertwee and Jonny Lee Miller. However, he had to pull out a couple of years ago because of filming commitments, and the company closed soon afterwards.

So where does he hope to be in 10 years’ time? "My goal is to do exactly what I’m doing now. If it remains like this and I’ve got choice and I can carry on making films big and small, that’s all I want out of life. If you’re trying to be the highest-paid or the biggest star, you never get there. If you do, you have to compromise your work on the way. I truly do what I love. I’m very lucky."

As he is ushered out of the room, he invites me to visit him on his world tour. "Come to the Mongolian steppes," he whispers conspiratorially. "Bring a Harrods hamper. We can take photos of me eating it and send them to the Scottish press…"

Source: The Independent

Thank you Mary for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Friday, January 23, 2004 // 07:34 a.m.


Dan Krovich and Chris Hyde’s 2004 Indie Preview

January 20, 2004

The indie and foreign film world can be a frustrating one some times. Sure, there are the occasional breakout hits, but often fans are stuck waiting for a film to make it to their city, or for a distributor to take it off its shelf, or for the film to get any distribution whatsoever. So it takes something of an intrepid person to try to plan out what indie films they want to see in the next year. But that never stopped us from listing the films that we really want to see. (Though some of us are beginning to think these lists are just signals to tell Harvey Weinstein what films to buy to lock away in the Miramax vault.) There is no guarantee that these films will make it to theaters this year, but from a production standpoint they should be ready to go. Before we get to what we’re looking forward to in 2004 (to be posted tomorrow and Thursday), we’ll look at what happened to our picks for 2003. (We’re still waiting for some of them.)


Young Adam

Did not receive release in 2003, though Sony Pictures Classics will open the film in April. Apparently Ewan McGregor’s naughty bits will be edited out of the U.S. release in order to garner an R rating. (A note to the MPAA: oh grow up, we’ve already seen Ewan’s penis multiple times.)

Source: Box Office Prophets

Thank you ParisRouge for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, January 21, 2004 // 11:07 p.m.


Another online radio interview with Ewan!

We are being spoiled rotten with these wonderful interviews! Not that we’re complaining! Keep ’em coming!

BBC 2’s Steve Wright interviewed Ewan on his show. It’s a wonderful interview, don’t miss it!

Thank you Barbsch for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Wednesday, January 21, 2004 // 08:29 p.m.


Ewan’s big trip after Big Fish

By Richard Simpson and Clair Weaver
20 January 2004

Ewan McGregor has spoken in detail about his impending 20,000-mile motorbike trip around the world.

The Scottish actor is taking a long break from Hollywood to realise his dream, inspired by his experiences while riding across America after filming Big Fish in Alabama.

He spoke about the trip at the premiere of the film in Leicester Square last night. "My best friend Charlie Boorman and I are riding from New York to London," he said. "I’m taking a complete break and I’m really looking forward to it."

They will travel through Europe, Poland, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Eastern Siberia, Alaska and Canada.

McGregor, 32, said he has not yet chosen which machine he will ride. Boorman, the actor son of John Boorman, and McGregor became friends after meeting on the set of The Serpent’s Kiss in 1996.

McGregor said his wife Ève Mavrakis, with whom he has two children, had no qualms about his trip. "She thinks it’s great."

He has agreed to write about the 15-week journey in a deal expected to earn about £1 million. Publication of the book, Long Way Round, is set to coincide with a TV series.

Big Fish director Tim Burton and his partner Helena Bonham Carter, who stars as a witch in the film, were also at the premiere.

McGregor plays the role of a son trying to learn more about his dying father by exploring the myths his father told him about himself.

Source: This is London

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 // 09:59 p.m.


Ewan interview from last night’s Big Fish premiere online

John Kilbride of Scotland Today sent me the link to online interview footage with Ewan at last night’s premiere.

Scotland Today

It’s available in RealPlayer, Quicktime and Windows Media.

Thank you, John!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 // 12:35 p.m.


Ewan radio interview online

BBC Radio 1 has an interview with Ewan that was broadcast today. Click on the link to listen!

Thank you Barbara for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, January 19, 2004 // 10:15 p.m.


Big Fish London Premiere

Tonight was the London premiere of Big Fish at Leicester Square. Here are a few photos of Ewan:

Thanks to ewanfan101 and Barbsch for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, January 19, 2004 // 10:06 p.m.


Cold Mountain leads Bafta nominations

By Anita Singh, Showbusiness Correspondent, PA News
19 January 2004

Cold Mountain and The Lord Of The Rings led the nominations today for this year’s Baftas, the British equivalent of the Oscars.

Jude Law and Renee Zellweger were both named for Cold Mountain but there was no nomination for its female lead, Nicole Kidman.

The American Civil War drama got 13 nominations while The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King received 12.

Girl With A Pearl Earring, starring Colin Firth as the painter Vermeer, was nominated in 10 categories.

Sean Penn has two best actor nominations - for 21 Grams and Mystic River - while Scarlett Johansson is up for two best actress awards for her roles in Girl With A Pearl Earring and Lost In Translation.

Stephen Fry announced the nominees at the Bafta headquarters in Piccadilly, central London. He will host the awards ceremony for the fourth year running at the Odeon in Leicester Square on 15 February.

Kidman was widely expected to make the best actress shortlist but Bafta voters decided otherwise.

The surprise snub is all the more marked because the Australian actress won the award last year for her performance in The Hours.

Her Cold Mountain role has been recognised in the US, where it has earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

The best actress list instead includes Anne Reid, the 68-year-old star of The Mother who was previously best known for her roles in Victoria Wood comedy dinnerladies and as Ken Barlow’s first wife Val in Coronation Street.

Reid is up against Uma Thurman for Kill Bill Vol 1, Naomi Watts for 21 Grams and the young actress Scarlett Johansson.

Johansson, 19, is nominated for her roles in two of the most critically acclaimed films of the year - Lost In Translation and Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Sean Penn similarly has two nominations in the best actor category, for 21 Grams and Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River.

The other contenders are his 21 Grams co-star Benicio Del Toro, Bill Murray for Lost In Translation, Johnny Depp for Pirates Of the Caribbean and Jude Law for Cold Mountain.

There was disappointment for the makers of British hit Love Actually, which picked up only three nominations despite its success at the box office.

Hugh Grant does not get a mention, although Bill Nighy is up for best supporting actor and Emma Thompson for best supporting actress.

Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation has eight nominations, as does Russell Crowe’s seafaring epic Master And Commander.

Tim Burton’s Big Fish, starring Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney, has seven.

Another surprise omission is Calendar Girls, a hit at the box office but snubbed by Bafta voters.

Stars Helen Mirren and Julie Walters were overlooked for acting honours and the film failed to make the shortlist for best British film.

The Baftas also have an additional "people’s choice" award, voted for by the British public. The Orange Film Of The Year category comprises the top 10 box office hits of 2003.

They are Bruce Almighty, Calendar Girls, Finding Nemo, Love Actually, Johnny English, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of the Black Pearl, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, X2: X Men United, The Lord of the Rings: The Return Of The King and The Matrix Reloaded.

Source: The Independent

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, January 19, 2004 // 07:39 a.m.


Full list of Bafta nominations

19 January 2004

Best Film: Big Fish; Cold Mountain; The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King; Lost In Translation; Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World.

Outstanding British Film of the Year: Cold Mountain; Girl With A Pearl Earring; In This World; Love Actually; Touching the Void.

Best Director: Tim Burton (Big Fish); Anthony Minghella (Cold Mountain); Peter Jackson (The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King); Sofia Coppola (Lost In Translation); Peter Weir (Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World).

Best Actor: Benicio del Poro (21 Grams); Bill Murray (Lost In Translation); Johnny Depp (Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl); Jude Law (Cold Mountain); Sean Penn (21 Grams); Sean Penn (Mystic River).

Best Actress: Anne Reid (The Mother); Naomi Watts (21 Grams); Scarlett Johansson (Girl With A Pearl Earring); Scarlett Johansson (Lost In Translation); Uma Thurman (Kill Bill Vol 1).

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Finney (Big Fish); Bill Nighy (Love Actually); Sir Ian McKellen (The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King); Paul Bettany (Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World); Tim Robbins (Mystic River).

Best Supporting Actress: Emma Thompson (Love Actually); Holly Hunter (Thirteen); Judy Parfitt (Girl With A Pearl Earring); Laura Linney (Mystic River); Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain).

Best Original Screenplay: 21 Grams; The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions Barbares); Finding Nemo; Lost In Translation; The Station Agent.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Big Fish; Cold Mountain; Girl With a Pearl Earring; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Mystic River.

Special Achievement by a British Director/Producer/Writer in their first feature film: Sergio Casci - Writer (American Cousins); Jenny Mayhew - Writer (To Kill A King); Peter Webber - Director (Girl With a Pearl Earring); Emily Young - Director/Writer (Kiss of Life).

Best Music: Cold Mountain; Girl With a Pearl Earring; Kill Bill Vol 1; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Lost in Translation.

Best Cinematography: Cold Mountain; Girl With a Pearl Earring; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Lost in Translation; Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

Best Editing: 21 Grams; Cold Mountain; Kill Bill Vol 1; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Lost in Translation.

Best Production Design: Big Fish; Cold Mountain; Girl With a Pearl Earring;The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

Best Costume Design: Cold Mountain; Girl With a Pearl Earring, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Best Sound: Cold Mountain; Kill Bill Vol 1; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Best special effects: Big Fish; Kill Bill Vol 1; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Best Make-Up and Hair: Big Fish; Cold Mountain; Girl With a Pearl Earring; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Best Short Animation: Dads Dead; Dear Sweet Emma; Jojo in the Stars; Nibbles; Plumber.

Best Short Film: Brown Paper Bag; Bye Child; Nits; Sea Monsters; Talking With Angels.

Best Film Not in the English Language: The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions Barbares); Belleville Rendez-Vous; Etre et Avoir; Good Bye, Lenin!; In This World; Spirited Away.

Source: The Independent

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Monday, January 19, 2004 // 07:38 a.m.


Rings triumphs in US cinema duel

Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 09:00 GMT

The US box office has been topped by Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King after a race with Big Fish, which saw both sides claim early victory.

Ticket sales were so close between the two that an official winner could not easily be declared using the usual weekend estimates.

But final figures showed Lord of the Rings had taken .2m (£7.6m) compared to .8m (£7.4m) for Big Fish.

Oscar contender Lord of the Rings has now topped the chart for four weeks.

The final adaptation in the Tolkien trilogy has now taken 2.3m (£169m) in the US and Canada alone, and continues to dominate box office charts around the world.

During the duel for the top of the North American chart major studio Columbia had estimated takings for its movie Big Fish at .5m, while New Line had predicted .1m for Lord of the Rings.

But Columbia admitted trade on Sunday for Big Fish, directed by Tim Burton, had not been as brisk as expected.

Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office monitor Exhibitor Relations, said it had been rare to have such a photo finish for the number one spot.

Big Fish stars Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney, who portray a man at two stages of his life who tells unbelievable stories.

It opened in a small number of US cinemas in December in a bid for Academy Award nominations.

Other new entries in the box office chart were comedy My Baby’s Daddy in sixth place and romance Chasing Liberty at number seven.

Source: BBC News

If you would like to keep track of the box office take of Big Fish, check out BoxOfficeMojo.

Posted by ewanspotting.com on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 // 03:49 p.m.


Atria to Publish Travel-Adventure By Actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

Wednesday January 14, 4:43 pm ET

Press Release Source: Atria Books

NEW YORK, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Judith Curr, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Atria Books, today announced the acquisition of Long Way ’Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Acquired by Atria Books VP and Editorial Director Tracy Behar, the authors were represented by Scott Waxman on behalf of Robert Kirby at Peters, Fraser & Dunlop of London for publication in the late fall of this year.

The travel-memoir, to be written by the two actors and best friends, will be a first person account detailing the events of their upcoming 2004 transcontinental motorcycle ride. Currently training in the UK for this event, McGregor and Boorman will begin their journey hitting the road in late April. Starting in London, the duo plan to arrive at their final destination of New York City, by the end of July. The manuscript will be submitted in chapters and pictures, from the road beginning in May. Little, Brown UK will publish in tandem with a television series, details to come. A version of the series will air in conjunction with the Atria Books publication in the US, set for October.

McGregor, known best for his movie roles in "Moulin Rouge" and the "Star Wars" series, stars in the current feature "Big Fish," for which he has just been nominated for a Golden Globe Award as best actor by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Boorman, the son of famed director John Boorman, is also a movie veteran with a multitude of screen credits including "Deliverance," "Excalibur," "The Serpent’s Kiss," "The Bunker," and many more.

Long Way ’Round will show the famous actors in a way the world has never seen them before, following their adventures and left to their own devices, in a quest for fulfillment of a personal dream for both men. Their journey is destined to be one of the greatest travel accounts on record as they embark on a journey in which they will traverse over 20,000 miles in circumnavigation over the longest continuous landmass on earth.

Source: Yahoo Financial News

Posted by ewanspotting.com on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 // 03:46 p.m.


Just a quick note to say that the Media and TV spottings pages are now back up and running. Due to some site moves and issues with Blogger, we were not able to post any updates for some time. Expect regular updates now in those sections. Sorry for the long delay in getting things fixed.

Posted by ewanspotting.com on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 // 06:42 p.m.


’Big Fish’ Edges ’Rings’ From Top Spot

1 hour, 27 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES - Tim Burton’s "Big Fish" took in $14.5 million to squeak past "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" as the No. 1 weekend movie, according to studio estimates Sunday.

"The Return of the King," the top film the previous three weekends, came in at $14.1 million, pushing its domestic total to $312.2 million.

The grosses on the top two movies were close enough that the rankings could flip-flop when final weekend figures are released Monday. Final figures often end up slightly lower than estimates made on Sunday, when studios are making projections on how big an audience their films will draw on the last day of the weekend.

"This is very rare to have a photo finish for the No. 1 spot," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "I think what we’ll probably find Monday is that perhaps the actual numbers will come in a little bit less but the order of the films will remain the same."

This was the first weekend in wide release for "Big Fish," which stars Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor in the fanciful adventures of a teller of tall tales. The film had opened in late December in a handful of theaters for Academy Awards consideration.

Expanding to 2,406 theaters, "Big Fish" averaged $6,027 a cinema, compared to $3,999 in 3,532 theaters for "Return of the King."

The weekend’s only new wide releases were two poorly reviewed movies, the Eddie Griffin comedy "My Baby’s Daddy," which ranked No. 6 with $7.8 million, and Mandy Moore’s romance "Chasing Liberty," which was No. 7 with $6 million.

January is traditionally a dead zone for new releases, with audiences shrinking after the holiday boom and studios dumping mediocre flicks into theaters.

The overall box office rose, with the top 12 movies taking in $92.5 million, up 5 percent from the same weekend last year.

Distributor Sony rolled "Big Fish" out slowly to build audience word of mouth for a complex film that was not an easy audience sell for Hollywood’s marketing machine.

"It was a tough picture to represent marketing-wise in terms of letting people know what the story was," said Rory Bruer, Sony head of distribution. "It felt like going slower with the picture would give audiences a chance to kind of discover the story for themselves."

"The Return of the King" is about to pass the total $314.8 million domestic gross of the fantasy trilogy’s first installment, "The Fellowship of the Ring." The final film also is expected to top the $341.7 million haul of the middle chapter, "The Two Towers."

The serial-killer drama "Monster," which has earned Academy Award buzz for star Charlize Theron, did well expanding from a handful of theaters to wider release. The film based on the life of executed murderer Aileen Wuornos took in $865,160 in 82 theaters for a strong $10,551 average.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Big Fish," $14.5 million.
2. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," $14.1 million.
3. "Cheaper by the Dozen," $12 million.
4. "Something’s Gotta Give," $8.2 million.
5. "Cold Mountain," $7.9 million.
6. "My Baby’s Daddy," $7.8 million.
7. "Chasing Liberty," $6 million.
8. "Paycheck," $5.2 million.
9. "The Last Samurai," $4.53 million.
10. "Mona Lisa Smile," $4.5 million.

Source: Yahoo News

Thanks to Lelia for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, January 11, 2004 // 04:17 p.m.


Some wonderful things said about Ewan

While there are hundreds of reviews written about Big Fish (too many to post here), some reviewers have written truly wonderful things about Ewan’s performance in Big Fish. Here’s a sample:

"No overachieving, overacting or ego is involved. Just simple charm from Jessica Lange, Finney, McGregor (who could easily charm the ocean from its floor)" (Chart Attack)

"Ewan McGregor is a supremely gifted actor, and this might be the film in which his talents are finally, resoundingly recognized. As young Bloom, he must bring life to Edward the man as much as the legend, and he invests such a sense of enthusiasm in the character you can scarcely comprehend where truth ands and fiction begins." (Film Stew)

"Burton’s penchant for whimsy and fantasy are put to good use creating a captivating atmosphere of skewed reality inside the world of Edward’s dubious anecdotes -- where his younger self is played with warm, charming aw-shucksiness by Ewan McGregor, who has a gift for dancing on the edge of absurdity without seeming self-aware or silly (see ’Moulin Rouge,’ ’Down With Love’)" (Spliced Wire)

"The young hero Edward Bloom is played by Ewan McGregor with panache. He has the most screen time and every moment is exciting." (Fantastica Daily)

"Burton cradles this theme in his arms, creating an eye-popping visual scheme for each of Edward’s stories. Radiantly acted with great zeal by Ewan McGregor, the fantasy sequences are what keep ’Fish’ from floundering." (Filmjerk.com)

"Big Fish ultimately belongs to McGregor. The Scottish actor brings a buoyant charm and infectious energy to the part that’s extremely winning—and he delivers his lines with a pretty convincing Southern accent to boot." (Reel.com)

"Ewan McGregor, plays Ed Bloom in his prime. This Hottier McLadofhot just gets better looking with every hearty serving. He’s a bit like an expensive bottle of fine man port. His charisma shines off the screen and make every frame a pleasure." (Blunt Reviews)

"For that matter, Ewan McGregor, who plays Ed in his youth, not only looks like Finney but shares the older actor’s insistent charisma and larger-than-life presence. There’s a taste of Finney’s ’Tom Jones’ swagger in McGregor’s cocky belief in himself and his ability to remain unrattled, no matter what astonishment comes his way." (Access Atlanta)

"McGregor sparkles with the unshakeable self-confidence of a man who knows how he will die (thanks to the witch and her glass eye), and thus fears nothing in the meantime. He is the fairy tale prince played to perfection with boundless energy and without a hint of irony." (Killer Movies)

"And in a role where we’d expect to find longtime collaborator Johnny Depp, Burton casts a willing and eager Ewan McGregor as young Edward Bloom. McGregor seems game for any challenge, and turns young Edward into a naïve, supportive and eternally optimistic character with enough charm and personality to fill the film’s enormously imaginative scenarios." (Eclipse Magazine)

"Ewan McGregor, bright and blustery and full of bold ambition as the younger Ed, is a revelation, a supreme sweet froth of ebullience, bravura and unstoppable confidence. It’s been a while since McGregor has let himself go in a role with such flair-filled abandon; he’s the magical charm of every scene he’s featured in." (Metro Weekly)

"McGregor is brilliant as the young Edward" (CNN)

"That said, McGregor goes a long way toward inspiring sympathy for Edward. Effectively combining his personas from Down with Love (man’s man Catcher Block and astronaut Zip Martin), McGregor is a thinking person’s movie star, amiable and clever. With Big Fish, he continues on a career path of almost confounding brilliance. His young adventurer is less obviously an outsider than Burton’s other Edwards (Scissorhands and Wood), but equally filled with a winning sense of wonder. McGregor responds enthusiastically to Burton’s vision of life as a skewed fairy tale." (Pop Matters)

"Ewan McGregor is excellent in the film. He plays the young Edward Bloom with such sincerity and enthusiasm that you instantly buy the character. It helps that he adopts the Southern accent and persona without a hint of condescending attitude. This makes him all the more charming as he tells stories about his fanciful adventures. His performance is perfectly complimented by that of Albert Finney who plays the old Edward Bloom. Again, you totally buy his character and as he tells his tall tales, you’re drawn into them like every other character in the movie. He plays the character with such charm that you instantly like him." (Comingsoon.net)

Thanks to ParisRouge, Melinda, Stefanie and Ewan Rocks Webmistress.

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Sunday, January 11, 2004 // 10:53 a.m.


Big Fish dethrones The King on Friday

Early Friday Box office estimates put Big Fish in the number one spot!

1. Big Fish - $4.5m
2. LOTR: Return of the King - $3.6m
3. Cheaper by the Dozen - $3.0m
4. My Baby’s Daddy - $2.6m
5. Something’s Gotta Give - $2.4m
6. Chasing Liberty - $2.4m
7. Cold Mountain - $2.3m
8. Paycheck - $1.6m
9. Mona Lisa Smile - $1.4m
10. Last Samurai - $1.3m

Source: Movie City News

Thank you Mary for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Saturday, January 10, 2004 // 06:00 p.m.


"The Natural": Ewan McGregor keeps his acting, and his life, easygoing.

January 09, 2004
By Jenelle Riley

Ewan McGregor makes it all look so easy. Take giving up smoking: something he did in April after a years-long addiction. "If you really want to stop, you just stop," says the lanky actor with a shrug. "It’s not as hard as they say it is, I don’t think." To him, it’s just that simple.

There are some actors who, no matter how great they may be, always seem to labor when they perform. McGregor is the antithesis of these thespians--a talented actor from whom great performances seem to come effortlessly and naturally. Whether falling head over heels with a woman he’s just met or wielding a lightsaber in a galaxy far, far away, he brings a charm and believability to roles that could go disastrously awry in the wrong hands. Nicole Kidman may have walked away with an Oscar nomination for Moulin Rouge, but can anyone imagine the movie working without McGregor’s dreamy optimism? Many of his films--Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, and Moulin Rouge among them--hinge on audiences wanting to follow their leading man on his journey. And McGregor is charismatic and endearing enough to lead them anywhere.

In his new film, Big Fish, McGregor plays the younger version of a dying man (Albert Finney) reconciling with his estranged son (Billy Crudup). In his take on the past, McGregor battles giants, rescues a town, and romances a woman he doesn’t even know (played by Alison Lohman as a young woman and by Jessica Lange as an adult.) Directed by the uniquely creative Tim Burton, McGregor pulls off another tricky role without ever letting us see him sweat. It’s going to be a busy year for the actor; his films Young Adam and Stay are due to hit screens later in 2004. But for now, he is set for a much-needed break. He’ll be seeing the world from his motorcycle, as removed from Hollywood as one can get. Of course he’ll be back next year to reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the third Star Wars prequel. The role has special significance to McGregor: His uncle, Denis Lawson, appeared in the first three Star Wars films as Wedge Antilles. Indeed, as McGregor went on to reveal, it was his uncle who largely inspired his passion for acting.

Back Stage West: We hear so much about actors dissuaded from their craft by practical parents and friends. Is it true that your parents encouraged you to become an actor?

Ewan McGregor: Well, they didn’t try to dissuade me. I mean, I’d always wanted to be an actor, since I was 9. My uncle was an actor, and I wanted to be different, like he was. I came from a very small rural town in Scotland. My uncle would come back and just be a very different, kind of colorful, character. And I wanted to be like him. And I never changed my mind. So by the time it came for me to leave school, my parents were so used to the fact that that’s what I wanted to do, and it was pretty clear to see that I was driven toward it. So they didn’t try to put me off, no. I did it the right way. I worked in theatre--when I was 16, I left school and worked in the theatre backstage, building sets and doing scene changes and watching actors working in the theatre. And watching the discipline that’s required, or should be required, to work in the theatre. And I started learning about my trade, really.

From there, I auditioned and got accepted into a one-year theatre arts course in Fife, Scotland. So toward the end, when I was 16, I actually left home and moved away and spent a year learning really intensely about theatre arts. We covered everything, from costume making to publicity to building the sets to stage managing the shows and acting in them. It was probably the most intense training I had. Even three years in drama school in London after that weren’t quite as intense as that one year in Scotland. And because we were all quite young--there was an age range from 16 to maybe 24, and it was a kind of course where some people went on it to see if acting or stage management was things that they wanted to do or not. And so halfway through the year, half of them had decided that they didn’t want to do it. But we still had two shows to do, and the rest of us who were still fiercely passionate about it had to try to encourage everyone to carry on. It was really hard. I did a lot of growing up that year. From there I went to train at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and that was a three-year proper acting course. I loved my time at drama school. I think I enjoy everything in retrospect more than I seem to be enjoying it at the time. That’s just part of who I am.

BSW: When was the last time you performed live onstage?

McGregor: Three or four years ago, I did a big play in London called Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs [by David Haliwell]. It’s a great play. My uncle directed it. I wanted to get back onstage, but I hadn’t been onstage for seven years and I was terrified, and I said, "I want you to direct it." So we did this play together, and it was a huge success, and he was wonderful to work with, just brilliant. And it was lovely because I love him so much as an uncle anyway, and to work with him was just a breeze--it was a walk in the park. So I long to do it again. It shouldn’t be as complicated as it seems to be to organize, but I guess with films, they end up so far in advance, or you attach yourself to a movie and it doesn’t go or it goes back or they lose the money, and it just seems to be difficult to nail down, to say I’m doing this play then. Also, I don’t tend to get offered many plays. People don’t come forward to me and say they want me to do this, that, or the other.

BSW: Why do you think that is?

McGregor: I don’t know. I suppose the assumption is that movie actors do movies. And it’s stupid. The truth of the matter is, there’s an awful lot to learn from both sides of the fence. And I’ve always thought that. I don’t know if it’s an American thing, but there certainly used to be in Britain a kind of snobbery in the theatre about movie acting [and] a kind of reverse snobbery in movies about theatre acting. And the truth is, they’re all acting, and they require different skills. To work in the theatre is terribly rewarding; it’s wonderfully educational for the actor. It’s much better for you, in fact, than making movies. And you learn what your job’s really about. It’s about shaping people’s emotions in the audience and the power that you can have in doing that. It’s funny; I’m such a slow learner. But I really realized doing Little Malcolm one night, you know, it was a very dark play ultimately, but the beginning is very light and funny. And the director uses that to grasp the audience, and then he just drags them down, and it becomes a very dark affair by the end of the piece. But there was one night where we had the audience; they were rolling in the aisles. We really had them in the palm in our hands. They were killing themselves laughing. But I remember being onstage and feeling, "If we don’t rein them in a bit now, this next scene isn’t going to work." If you miss one of those beats, the play might not work. I realized there onstage that my job is to make the play work. And my portrayal of the character is only part of making the play work. On a football field, the team would go, "Jimmy, give me the ball!" And they would shout at each other and pass the ball over. Well, you can’t do that onstage. You can’t go, "OK, we need to rein them in now." So I realized that what we’re doing [is], we’re steering the audience’s emotions from one place to another. We’re not able to discuss it, sharing the stage, but the actors are feeling it out together and doing that. And we did. We managed to pull them in, so when we hit them with that dark point, it really hit hard. And you could feel it--fwhoom!--like an arrow in the target. And we nailed it, and the play was served and the play worked.

BSW: Did your uncle have any advice on joining the Star Wars franchise?

McGregor: He told me not to do them. He hates Star Wars; he hates being in it; he hates the fan mail that he still receives to this day. And he only did a couple of days on each film--he had a tiny part, yet he still gets fan mail from these weird people who obsess about such things. He said not to do it. His advice was, "Don’t do Star Wars. I want you to have a career after you’re 30."

The nearer I got to doing the film, the more I wanted to do [it]. And I’ve always followed my instinct like that. And also, I felt like I’ve done enough work not to get trapped in it. Star Wars are nice films to be in, they’re very difficult films to make. You know, it hasn’t done me any harm, I don’t think. Nor has it made a huge difference in my career, really. I think other things have stepped me up the ladder in a bigger way. But it’s difficult to tell; it’s difficult to know what effect different films have on you, because I’m working all the time.

BSW: We spoke with Hayden Christensen [who plays Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones and the upcoming third episode] recently, and he said he originally had reservations about taking on such an intimidating role. But he said it ultimately came down to realizing, "Come on, it’s Star Wars. How do you say no?"

McGregor: And you know, he’s made a film with his brother [Shattered Glass], and that might not have happened had he not been in Star Wars. So it all goes around nicely. And for some people, it will be the only films they make. And that’s fine. For me, it’s not the case. For me, it’s the only time I’ve made three films playing the same character. It will probably be the only time I ever do that. But they’re three movies amongst many, many others.

BSW: In Star Wars, you play a young Alec Guinness, and in Big Fish, you’re the young Albert Finney. Did you know when you signed on that Albert would be playing your father?

McGregor: Yes. They waited to find the right two people, so it was a double cast. They didn’t offer it to me and then go and find Albert. Nor did they offer it to Albert, then come and find me. They found the package deal, you might say. It was important for them to do that. It was the same for Jessica [Lange] and Alison [Lohman].

BSW: How did you go about playing versions of these two men without delving into imitation?

McGregor: I studied Alec Guinness’ voice, mainly, to try to match some of his vocal patterns. Not to copy him, because it wouldn’t be right to just do an Alec Guinness impersonation; it wouldn’t be enough. And I had to make the character somehow my own but at the same time make it believable [that] I become Alec Guinness. And I’m satisfied that I did that. And maybe in Episode III, I’ve done more of it than before--to try to link up Episode III to Episode IV. So we’ll see how that works; I don’t know.

With Albert, again it was the voice. The voice does a lot. Because he’s playing him so much older than I am, and also because I’m playing Albert’s memory of himself. So in Big Fish, it was important that I was fantastic and lovely and a great guy and had all the right moral values, because it’s somebody’s memory of himself. So I didn’t have to do an Albert Finney impersonation. But we worked with Carla Meyer, who’s the best dialect coach in the country. She kind of gave us the same voice--because he’s English, I’m Scottish, yet we’re playing someone from Alabama. So we worked with her together and separately on the accent, and, in a way, that did as much work as anything else.

BSW: Were you a Tim Burton fan?

McGregor: Yeah, I love Tim’s stuff. I think, [for] an actor, he’s just one of the directors you’d kill to work with, there’s no question about that. When I was given the script to read, you can’t help but let the fact he’s directing influence your reading of it. So as you’re reading the fantastical side of it, you’re familiar with Tim’s kind of visual style, and they come really alive in your mind. And I loved working with him; he was so beautiful to work with. He said, "Action," then you were allowed to play and discover and experiment, and when he said, "Cut," there’d be no trauma in between. Very often you can pick up a director’s fear and a director’s anxiousness when you’re at work. That happens a lot because it’s a scary thing to be a director. But with Tim you’re not aware of it. I saw him get frustrated with things like waiting for the right light or waiting for a crane to go up or the clouds to clear. And that’s how I feel about it--I don’t like spending too much time on stuff; I don’t think it serves anybody. I’m much better in the first three or four takes than I am in the ninth or tenth. That’s the way I am; it’s not the same for all actors.

You just had a lovely sense that he was watching, and he knew when it was good, and he’d move on. And it’s terribly frustrating when directors don’t. And it’s funny, on a film set when you’ve done the take, everyone knows. The other actors know, you know, the crew all know. And very often the person who doesn’t get it is the director. And he’ll go, "All right, let’s do one more." And it’s just disappointing. Because you start thinking he’s not watching or not feeling it. And then you end up moving on after a bad take, and that’s soul-destroying. You want to get it right and fucking move on. And Tim’s like that.

BSW: In both Big Fish and Moulin Rouge, you play characters who fall passionately in love with a woman upon first sight and pursue them doggedly. How do you play the romance without coming off like a stalker?

McGregor: Because they’re about true love, I think. He truly loves that girl. But you’re right--I mean, to turn up on the door like that is sort of weird. But he really means it. When he shows up on the door in Big Fish and says, "You don’t know me yet, but I’m going to marry you," he really believes it. [He pauses, then begins laughing.] I don’t know, I’ve never thought of that question. Isn’t that funny? Stalker … or romantic hero?

BSW: In the wrong hands, it wouldn’t work, but you make it seem so logical.

McGregor: Well, I suppose I believe it. I fell in love with my wife like that. So I know it’s possible.

BSW: You’re done several nude scenes in movies, which I think American audiences find interesting because it’s not typical for our movies to feature male nudity. Have you ever had any qualms about your on-screen nudity?

McGregor: Well, no, because they’re relevant. I don’t have a problem with it, because it’s reality. I don’t think any of the films I’ve made have been gratuitous. There’s a beautiful film I made with [Peter] Greenaway called The Pillow Book. And it’s beautiful, and it’s about sex and this girl’s sexual life. And if you’re going to make a film about that, it’s going to require people to be naked, because people generally are when they have sex. Not always, but sometimes. I think if the movies do reflect life, which is the point, then people are naked in their life. I am twice a day, at least, naked. And some people get really worked up about it. I just don’t. I never have been, I’ve always been quite happy to do that. I think people should get more upset about violence, but that seems to be OK. It’s all right to cut someone’s head off in a film, it’s not all right to see somebody naked. I don’t understand that. I would think it should be the other way around.

BSW: Your film Young Adam, which was released in the United Kingdom last year, featured you nude, and rumor has it that the nudity will be cut for the American release this year.

McGregor: There’s a lot of sex in Young Adam. I’ve heard it’s been cut, but then I’ve heard not a frame has been taken out of it. So I don’t know. You do see my penis in that film, but whether you’ll see it in America or not, I don’t know.

BSW: Did you know there’s an online petition to keep the nude scene intact?

McGregor: Oh, that’s funny. To not cut the penis scene? It’s not that big of a deal, it’s just really quick. I mean, people will get really upset if they think they’ll get long, lingering looks at my dick. They don’t.

BSW: On to another rumor: Are you aware there’s also a campaign to make you the next James Bond? And would you be interested?

McGregor: Is there? I think, like everything else, you’d have to think and deal with it if it came up. They haven’t spoken to me about it; there’s been no dialogue. It could be a blast to make those films, there’s no question about that. But at the same time, I would worry that I wouldn’t have enough time to make other films. Star Wars takes up three and a half months of my life [once] every three years, and that’s it. Then a bit of a reshoot and a bit of publicity. And I think James Bond shoots for four or six months, and I believe Pierce [Brosnan] is obliged to go around the world to open the films and is sent on a monstrous publicity tour. And that would certainly be something you’d have to take into consideration. Because it means you wouldn’t be able to make as many films, and I seem to like making films a lot. But it would be so great to be able to play James Bond--I think he’s a great character, and I can imagine myself playing him. We’ll just have to see.

And I think there’s a way to get the sexy stuff back, without it being misogynistic. Because there’s no question, some of it was really on the line, especially Connery’s stuff. Because it should be sexy. And also, the espionage could be--see, now I’m having all these great thoughts about it.

In a way, The Bourne Identity was a great film about what it’s like to be that guy. And that would be a fantastic Bond: what it’s really like to be a hired killer, somebody who lives the life where you can’t have any ties. Because there are those people out there.

BSW: What’s the best thing about your job?

McGregor: The best thing is when the camera’s turning. I like that bit more than any of the rest of it. I mean, it’s great. I see the world; I travel; but when you’ve done that for a long time, you just want to be at home. This year I’ve spent three weeks at my house in London, and that’s great, because I’ve done some interesting work. But if I didn’t love the bit when the camera was turning, it wouldn’t be worth it. It’s incredibly disruptive for my kids and my wife, who’s had to put her career more or less on hold because we travel so much. If she were to take a job, I wouldn’t see her for seven or eight months, maybe, and we don’t want a marriage like that. It also gives me financial security, and I’m very comfortable and happy and don’t want for much. I’m a really satisfied person. But ultimately, I like waking up in the morning when I’m going to a film set to do my work. And when I don’t, it’s because I’m tired and I need to take a break. Which is exactly what I’m about to do now. I’m going on a big motorcycle tour around the world. So I need to be hungry for it again. I’ve just finished a wonderful film called Stay, but at the end of it, I was tired and didn’t have that spring in my step going to work in the morning and I should have. Because I love it.

Source: Back Stage West

Thank you ParisRouge for the heads up!

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Saturday, January 10, 2004 // 05:57 p.m.


Ewan and Sharleen Spiteri to host Burns night

Jan 9 2004
By John Dingwall

Later this month, Sharleen Spiteri and actor pal Ewan McGregor will host a Burns night in London to raise money for CHAS (Children’s Hospice Association of Scotland) appeal.

Sharleen said: "We’re bringing the Londoners into the fun that can be had from a Scots party. We did it last year and we’ve been inundated with people asking us to do it again so we’re going ahead with it."

Source: Daily Record

Posted by Best of Ewan McGregor on Friday, January 9, 2004 // 07:21 a.m.



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