Relativity Media has provided ComingSoon.net with an exclusive sneak peek at the new TV spot for Steven Soderberghs action-thriller Haywire, starring American Gladiators and Mixed Martial Arts star Gina Carano as Mallory, a special ops agent who finds a target on her back once she’s outlived her use to the agency.
The film co-stars Ewan McGregor as Mallory’s direct superior and Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas as higher ups at the agency, while Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender play fellow field agents. Michael Angarano plays Scott, a young man Mallory picks up while on the run. As you can tell from the spot, it’s a fairly action-packed film, but it also reunites Soderbergh with Lem Dobbs, screenwriter of The Limey, and David Holmes, who did the music for all three Ocean’s 11 movies.
Film charity MediCinema is holding a Star Wars charity dinner & quiz at London’s Hilton Park Lane Hotel on February 2, to coincide with the release of Episode I - The Phantom Menace in 3D.
All proceeds will go to MediCinema charity which installs state-of-the-art cinemas in hospitals for patients and families. The plan is to build new facilities in three hospitals in London in 2012.
A selection of Star Wars-loving celebrities will form the top table and guests will take them on to compete to win the title of MediCinema Star Wars Quiz champions.
Patrons of MediCinema include Ewan McGregor who starred as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and Nick Frost and Simon Pegg who are both avid Star Wars fans.
“We are enormously excited about the potential of this event being a great platform for the MediCinema charity and want to grow this into a signature, annual event. The cult and history of Star Wars and its community provide a real opportunity for the world of film to have a positive, significant impact in the world of charity,” said MediCinema’s chief executive Stephen Moore.
The very first trailer and poster for Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer have debuted at iTunes Trailers. Check them both out below!
The film tells the story of an ancient war that is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants. Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack, into the battle of his life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom, its people, and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend—and gets the chance to become a legend himself.
Starrring Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy and Ewan McGregor, Jack the Giant Killer hits theaters in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D on June 15, 2012.
Ewan McGregor talks Beginners and gay roles: “I’m interested in sexuality and sex, relationships and love and what makes us tick.”
Sun, Dec 4 2011 By Greg Hernandez
It’s great to see the terrific film Beginners getting some awards attention. It’s the story of a father (Christopher Plummer) and son (Ewan McGregor) and what happens when the father comes out late in life.
McGregor talked to Frontiers IN LA about the movie, his popularity with gay audiences and more. Here is an excerpt:
In Beginners, your character goes through a process that’s almost like a rediscovery of his father when Christopher Plummer’s character comes out at the age of 75. Did you personally discover anything about the gay community through the making of the film that you hadn’t known beforehand?
I learned a lot about American gay history, because I think Mike [Mills, the film’s director] really beautifully explores it in the montages where he’s looking back at his father’s life as a young gay man in the early ‘50s, with an aim to try to understand what that might be like and why his father made the choices that he made. He makes it very real, that history, and it doesn’t feel like a history lesson. It’s an exploration of his dad’s younger years. And then how not very long ago gay men were being thrown into the back of police trucks and arrested for going to gay coffee shops. That sort of stuff I found very interesting—how recently it happened, when it seems so long ago.
You’re a very popular actor among the gay community for many reasons, but primarily because you appear in films and roles that really speak to gay men. How do you choose which roles you take on?
Well, it’s just a very gut process really. I’m not very complicated about it—if I find a script I don’t want to put down and I like that it’s firing my imagination and I start to see myself in that role, and it’s about something I’m interested to talk about, then I’ll do it. It’s kinda as simple as that really. I try not to make it anymore complicated than that.
Occasionally it does [get more complicated]—I suppose the more you do it, the more you start thinking about directors. You know, I’ve made a lot of films, and you start thinking, “Well OK, now I want to make really good films.” You try to narrow down the possibilities of them not being good, so I suppose nowadays I take more note about the directors. But then again, if I love a script and it’s a first-time director, I’ll probably still do it because that first-time director is probably firing at 110 percent.
In regards to the gay community and myself, I’m delighted, but I’m just interested in people and life. I’m interested in sexuality and sex, relationships and love and what makes us tick, and it doesn’t matter whether that’s heterosexual or gay romance. I don’t really mind it, I just find it interesting. I’ve never really gone out to try to play a gay person, because I don’t really believe you could do that, and if you did, it wouldn’t be a very good portrayal of anybody. So I go out to play a person, and their sexuality is a part of what makes them up—of course, it’s a very important part of what makes us up, but it’s not everything—it’s not.
Steven Soderbergh’s new action/thriller, Haywire, could be his most ferocious, full-bore movie to date. And if he carries through his threat to retire from filmmaking, it may just stay that way - unless, of course, Liberace goes postal in his upcoming HBO biopic.
This punchy new quad gives a flavour of what to expect from the pic: ie bullets, a lot of broken glass, some seriously worried looking dudes, and a few more bullets for good measure. Someone has stitched Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) up and someone is going to pay. To be honest, we’re looking at you, Mr. Banderas, with your roguish moustache and experience on Spy Kids.
Carano’s character is a black-ops “super soldier” who goes off the grid and hits back at the CIA handlers who betrayed her and are threatening her family. Soderbergh’s strong-looking cast is rounded out by Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas and Bill Paxton, a more-than-decent blend of character acting talent and action chops.
The Limey writer Lem Dobbs reunited with Soderbergh on scripting duties, which should guarantee a DVD commentatory worth owning.
Ewan McGregor has joined the cast of the HBO drama pilot The Corrections, the cable outlet confirms to TheWrap. McGregor will play Chip, the younger son of an elderly Midwestern couple trying to draw all of their children home for one last Christmas together.
The pilot, based on the Jonathan Franzen novel, is written by Noah Baumbach and Franzen and produced by Scott Rudin. In the book, Chip is a writer and academic who gets mixed up with a Lithuanian crime boss.
McGregor joins a cast that already includes Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest as the parents.
Still to be cast are the roles of their older son, a suburbanite overwhelmed by his wife and children, and their daughter, who flees her marriage only to end up in an affair with a married man.
Ewan McGregor’s Beginners is a visually stunning experience that packs a major emotional wallop thanks to some of the bravest performances you’ll see all year. But more than anything else it’s a wholly unique creature -- something that clearly attracted McGregor.
“I’m not interested in making movies that feel like retreads of other movies,” he told ETonline. That’s why I was equally interested in another one of his upcoming projects, Jack the Giant Killer — a retelling of Jack & The Beanstalk, which reunites the writer and director of The Usual Suspects.
In addition to getting the scoop on that film, McGregor revealed the decision-making process that goes into selecting his roles, and that nearly all those characters stick with him forever … if chosen correctly.
ETonline: What was it about Beginners that appealed to you?
Ewan McGregor: I had a good idea that it would be very interesting because of Mike Mills [writer/director]. Based off his other movie, Thumbsucker, I had a good sense that he was someone with a vision. I didn’t know from the script if it would necessarily be something we’d seen before or not, but it was just such a truthful, honest script and a way to tell the story that was exciting. I fell in love with the story – both stories. They’re equally fantastic.
ETonline: The movie was shot chronologically with lots of rehearsal time. How much of that was actually spent on the script?
McGregor: Very little of it. Over those four or five days, we hardly touched upon the dialogue – we maybe read one scene a day. The time was really spent doing stuff. Melanie [Laurent, who plays Anna] and I went to a theme park, rode rollercoasters, did exercises hanging out with our film friends, went roller-skating – fun exercises that bonded us.
ETonline: Does that make breaking up, even if it’s fake, that much more taxing?
McGregor: It was a nightmare [laughs]. The first thing we had to do was break up over and over again, which is a horrible thing to do. But thanks to that, by the time we got in front of the camera, we were pretty tight.
ETonline: Given the two separate timelines, the dog is pretty much the only co-star you worked with the entire time.
McGregor: Yes, Cosmo. That was his real name. I loved him, fell very much in love. In the first story, he’s my dad’s dog but I still had a lot of scenes with him so we bonded. During the second part of the shoot, I think it’s safe to say the dog got slightly jealous. He felt a little left out around this pretty French actress.
ETonline: This is the latest in a long line of amazing characters you’ve brought to life. If given the opportunity to revisit one and tell the second chapter in their story, is there one that you’d like to attempt?
McGregor: Oh, there are lots of them. I feel completely invested when I play a role. It’s very rare for me to not get something out of it. If it does happen, I find that incredibly difficult because it’s not what I’m about. I like to feel fulfilled in what I’m doing. It’s funny, I was doing an interview in London recently and they showed clips from movies I’d done a long, long time ago and I still remembered every line like it was yesterday. We’re talking 15 years ago, but I remember how I felt saying the lines, what they meant to me – it was crazy. I feel invested in all of those characters and I would be very interested in playing some of them again.
ETonline: Like Trainspotting?
McGregor: There’s been talk of doing a Trainspotting sequel, which I’ve always been so reluctant of because I have so much love for that movie, I wouldn’t want to tarnish it by doing a bad sequel – plus, I never read a script for it. But I love playing the character in Young Adam. That was a fantastic film and I’d love to see what happened to him next. It wouldn’t be pretty though [laughs]. I have a very strong connection to my roles, I can’t explain it, but there’s no other way for me to do it. I can’t phone it in. If I don’t feel connected and committed, it just feels like bad work to me. I don’t know that it ever goes away – lines that you may have done go away after time, but as soon as you pick up the script, those lines come right back to you. They’re in your bones. You can’t get rid of them.
ETonline: Given that, how important is the first read of a script to you?
McGregor: It’s everything. The first reading is the only reading in a way – everything you do after that links back to that first time you read a script. That’s the first time you have knowledge of a story or a character. Every time you read it after that, it goes back to the experience of reading it the first time. I think it’s the most important read of any.
ETonline: What was it about the first read of Jack the Giant Killer that attracted you?
McGregor: That was a character I felt like I hadn’t ever played before. I thought he was very amusing. I’m not sure how amusing [director] Bryan Singer thought he was [laughs]. Once we got on set, I’m not sure we quite had the same read on it, but I certainly saw him as the very gang-ho head of the knights. He’s very cool and always saying “come on, let’s go” like a British captain in a WWII movie. But he’s not the one who actually solves any of the problems [laughs]. Jack comes along behind him and tidies up the mess, which I thought was amusing – I could see him in my head.
ETonline: Is that the number one attraction, a character you haven’t played before?
McGregor: Mostly, yes. I never wanted to be “a type.” If you feel like you’ve done it before, you wonder what’s left to explore. It’s like acting on stage – you play a character for years and years, but if it’s a rich character like Iago, you’ll never get to the end of exploring him, really. Movies can transport you, the same way reading a book can when it fires up your imagination. That’s when I get excited.
Last night, Ewan attended the 4th Annual Go Go Gala for honoree Chris Mburu at The London in Los Angeles, California. He sang several songs, including “Friday I’m in Love”, Oasis’ “Wonderwall”, then a song that may have been featured in Long Way Round, and, to the surprise and delight of every Ewan fan there, Ewan sang “Come What May”.
Every Ewan fan is hoping an official video gets posted to YouTube!
Ewans Haywire to debut at AFI Fest 2011; free tickets available!
November 6, 2011 By Pietro Filipponi
Haywire stars former womens MMA champ Gina Carano, Channing Tatum, and Ewan McGregor, the film will be in theaters early next year. It hits theaters January 20, 2012.
The American Film Institute (AFI) today announced that this year’s “Secret Screening” at AFI FEST presented by Audi will be the debut of Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh’s highly anticipated new film Haywire, starring Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Angarano, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton and introducing mixed martial arts (MMA) star Gina Carano in a demanding lead role that has her performing her own high-adrenaline stunts. AFI FEST will roll out the People’s Red Carpet prior to the screening on November 6 at 9:30 p.m. where all guests can walk the carpet and pose for photos.
A dynamic action-thriller, Haywire tells the story of Mallory Kane, a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive. Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious – and dangerous – trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she’ll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.
Haywire marks Steven Soderbergh’s 25th film. Relativity Media will release Haywire in theaters January 20, 2012. Soderbergh’s most recent film, the thriller Contagion, was released in September 2011. He earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for his directorial debut, Sex, Lies, and Videotape and the Academy Award in 2000 for directing Traffic, the same year he was nominated for Erin Brockovich. Among his other credits are the films And Everything is Going Fine, Bubble, Che, Full Frontal, Gray’s Anatomy, The Girlfriend Experience, The Good German, The Informant!, Kafka, King of the Hill, The Limey, The Ocean’s trilogy, Out of Sight, Schizopolis, Solaris and The Underneath.
Admission to Haywire is available to AFI FEST 2011 pass holders and free tickets for the screening can be obtained at the AT&T Box Office located in suite 219 at the Hollywood and Highland Center between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. today. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Rush Line will begin forming at 8:30 p.m.
AFI FEST – celebrating its 25th year – takes place November 3 through 10 in Hollywood, California, at the historic Chinese Theatre, the Chinese 6 Theatres, the Egyptian Theatre and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
Last year, Ewan McGregor’s film schedule was disrupted by monsoon rains in Thailand, and at the last minute, he was unable to host our Gala. Clearly, not his fault. Nevertheless, to make up for it, he wants to do something extra special this year.
We couldn’t be more excited to announce that in addition to hosting, Ewan will be our headline musical entertainment. Ever since swooning over his musical talents amply displayed in Moulin Rouge, we have secretly hoped he would perform at our Gala one year. This is the year.
Ewan rarely sings in public, and never as a solo headline act - until now. We are honored he’s making his debut at the GO GO Gala.
Ask anyone who’s attended and they’ll tell you that the GO GO Gala is always a special night, but this year promises to be even more memorable. Don’t miss it.
The 15th annual Hollywood Awards took place on Monday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, kicking off a months-long season of self-congratulations and chicken dinners shared by the same core group of people.
There is something special about this event, though, because it offers industry observers our first opportunity to see how dozens of awards hopefuls handle the spotlight. There is no tension about who will get called to the podium, since the honorees are announced weeks before the ceremony (determined by the event’s executive director Carlos de Abreu and a panel of advisors), but there is still plenty on the line. Indeed, a highlight clip, introduction, or acceptance speech can immensely help or hurt a contender’s prospects, as the many studio publicists, executives, and chiefs in attendance (including The Weinstein Company’s Harvey Weinstein and Sony Pictures Classics’s Michael Barker) were well aware.
Based on what I was able to gauge last night from a seat in the audience and access that I was exclusively granted to the backstage area and green room throughout the show, nobody really set themselves back very much at this particular awards show, but a few people certainly came away from the festivities stronger than they entered them.
It was uncertain how Christopher Plummer (Beginners), the 81-year-old who is widely considered to be the frontrunner for the best supporting actor Oscar, would handle himself upon being presented with the Hollywood Supporting Actor Award by his co-star Ewan McGregor. Plummer has a reputation for being a bit curmudgeonly, especially when it comes to the gladhanding part of awards campaigning, which might explain why he has only been nominated for an Oscar once -- for best supporting actor for The Last Station (2009) -- despite having given great performances for decades. But he passed this early test with flying colors, joking that he was pleased to be among the first to be honored because it was “way past my bedtime”; stating, “I’ve never been so relaxed in front of a camera”; and profusely thanking his “son” McGregor, his “partner” Goran Visnjic, writer/director Mike Mills, and, “of course, Cosmo, the dog.”
Great-great gran from Failsworth who helped build Lancaster bombers teaches Ewan McGregor how to rivet
October 13, 2011
A great-great grandmother spent a riveting day flirting with Hollywood star Ewan McGregor.
Susan Jones, known affectionately as Rosie the Riveter, is to feature in a new documentary being made by the Star Wars actor with his pilot brother Colin on the rarely told story of RAF’s Bomber Command.
The 88-year-old helped build thousands of Lancaster bombers at AV Roe’s Chadderton Greengate and Failsworth’s Ivy Mill during the war.
She was asked to show Ewan the ropes and teach him how to rivet at the RAF base in Coningsby, Lincoln.
Susan said: “We were chauffeured to Coningsby and they took me in the hanger where the Lancaster Bomber was and introduced to me Ewan and Colin. They said to act naturally and show Ewan what parts I’d made on the Lancaster.
“He took my arm into his and we had a walk around. They then asked me to teach him how to rivet. The machine is too heavy for me now so I placed the rivets in the holes and he gunned them.
“He did all right but made a bit of a mess of one and I told him that it would never pass inspection.
“It was a wonderful experience and something that I’ll never forget.
“He’s just so natural with no airs or graces and I got to have him all to myself in the hanger and it was hugs and kisses all round.
“I’ve watched one or two of his films and his motorbike tour programmes. I wasn’t really a fan but I liked him and he’s really likeable in real life.
“I’m such a flirt and was flirting with Ewan. He just looks you straight in the eyes and you just melt. I told them their mother must be proud of them both.”
After the visit, Susan bumped into the McGregor brothers again during her annual pilgrimage to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight to see the world’s last remaining airworthy bomber.
She added: “They were filming more scenes for the documentary when Ewan spotted me and came running over to give me a big hug. There were thousands of people and he came straight to me. People must have thought I was his grandma.
“I always say the three best moments in my life were marrying my husband, having my children and working at AV Roe. Now I have got a fourth and that’s working with Ewan.”
George Clooney will receive one of the first accolades of the awards season when he picks up the Hollywood Actor Award during the 15th Annual Hollywood Film Awards, October 24 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
"George Clooney delivered a flawless and passionate performance in Alexander Payne’s human drama, The Descendants," says Hollywood Film Festival founder and executive director Carlos de Abreu. “Clooney continues to shine as one of Hollywood’s most gifted actors. We’re delighted to honor him at this year’s Hollywood Film Awards.”
A precursor to the Oscars, the gala event launches awards season and will be hosted by ET’s own Nancy O’Dell.
The Hollywood Awards will also bestow Glenn Close with the Hollywood Career Achievement Award; Michelle Williams with the Hollywood Actress Award for My Week with Marilyn; Christopher Plummer with the Hollywood Supporting Actor Award for Beginners; Carey Mulligan with the Hollywood Supporting Actress Award for Shame; Felicity Jones with the New Hollywood Award for Like Crazy; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt with the Hollywood Breakthrough Actor Award for 50/50. The ensemble cast of The Help will also be recognized.
Presenters at the 15th Annual Hollywood Film Awards will include Anne Hathaway, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas and Owen Wilson.
Ewan McGregor: Enter the consummate Hollywood performer
Sunday, 9 October 2011 By Kunal Dutta
Ewan McGregor is nearly an hour late. But there is no apology when he arrives. Instead, I’m love-bombed with Hollywood charm: diving on to the velvet sofa of the Mayfair Hotel, London, he checks my Dictaphone is running, rearranges our table, pours us glasses of water and throws in a joint cappuccino order for good measure.
An agitated publicist clutching a clipboard hovers. The interview looks close to sliding into the swamp of stage-managed press junkets. Then I mention the riots. “I just thought, fuck off, this is embarrassing,” he recalls, hair perfectly parted, but demeanour briefly devoid of charm. While the nation agonised after the events of last August, McGregor took a different view. “I recently worked on a film with Waleed Akhtar, a famous Egyptian actor who had been involved in the protests in Tahrir Square. There you saw social unrest happening for a political reason; an attempt to try and force social change. Here, it was about nothing. It was just people smashing windows of shops and trying on sneakers to make sure they fitted before they stole them. All around the world it was a big embarrassment, with no motivation other than: ‘I’m not very happy and I want things – so I’ll just take them’.”
Plainly such thoughts have been fermenting and catch fire on contact with air. McGregor becomes incensed: “It’s probably more of a sign of how good we have it, and how easy things are over here; that people are more concerned with grabbing commercial goods than the way our society is structured.”
One might argue that this is all very well for a wealthy, married father of four, who recently moved his family to Los Angeles, California, for a better life. He concedes that life there gives a skewed impression of the rest of the world. I remind him of Sean Connery – one of the few Scottish actors with a greater claim to fame – who once declared himself fed up with “the idiots” in Hollywood and the “ever-widening gap between people who know how to make movies and the people who green-light them”. But McGregor will have none of it, insisting film-making is “no longer a nationality-led trait”. But he concedes that the “lack of news” in the United States can result in feeling “quite cut off”, making it hard to follow – or care much about – current affairs.
Perhaps this is no great loss. He admits to not having taken much of an interest in the recent party conferences. “I don’t have a great deal of trust in politicians,” he says bluntly. “The rare times I watch football, I’m struck by the bad acting, such as when players throw themselves to the ground when they blatantly haven’t been tackled. Cheating has become part of football, and politics is now the same.” His older brother’s public statements critical of MoD defence cuts – Colin McGregor is an ex-RAF Tornado pilot – are unlikely to have done anything to improve his belief in political leaders of any stripe.
Which leaves the question: what does he believe in? He would be happy if we thought some of the answers to that lurk in Perfect Sense, his new film. Billed as a science fiction love story, it features McGregor as a Glaswegian chef who falls in love with an aloof epidemiologist played by Eva Green, as the world is close to collapse.
“As human beings, falling in love is one of the huge emotional journeys we experience,” he says. Barely pausing, he clicks along in Hollywood mode once more: “I have always been interested in romance and exploring it in work. This is a story about two people reluctantly falling in love with each other. I thought it was a clever writer’s construct – when we fall in love we lose our senses and here the world is losing its own senses.”
The project reunites him with Ewen Bremner (“Spud” from Trainspotting) and director David Mackenzie, whom he first worked with on the impressive Young Adam, an emotionally driven esoteric movie that came out in 2003. But his latest effort, which is peppered with all kinds of hard-to-swallow premises (the apocalypse; a business-as-usual mentality despite disease, global deafness and permeating insanity), asks more questions than it answers.
Here is one of our finest actors, who gave unforgettable performances in Shallow Grave, Moulin Rouge!, and, for the geeks among us, the Star Wars trilogy. Yet in recent years he has featured in some spectacularly underwhelming efforts, and more than one stinker. They include Cassandra’s Dream, Woody Allen’s flatlining London-based crime comedy; Stormbreaker, the first and last of a planned series of British spy movies; Miss Potter, and Scenes of a Sexual Nature, which one critic dismissed as having only one discernable message: “Hampstead Heath is a nice place to be on a sunny day”.
McGregor is smoothness itself on this one, insisting that price tag and star billing do not motivate him. He has five films in the pipeline – each sprinkled with promise – and insists he intends to “take his time” and not be swayed by the eternal quest for the next blockbuster. Looking studiedly earnest, he says: “I approach it as an actor tackling a character. Not a famous person doing the next thing that keeps us famous.”
But he finds it hard to mask his annoyance at any suggestion that Trainspotting is his finest hour. It is a sore spot that people will not stop rubbing: last year it was rumoured that he is to reprise his role as Renton in a sequel. For that to happen McGregor would have to bury the hatchet with Danny Boyle, with whom he fell out after Leonardo DiCaprio was given the lead in The Beach. If they are back on terms, McGregor doesn’t let on. Hollywood smoothness is pursued by a terse: “Does he say that is happening now?” Boyle, by contrast, was jovial last year when he insisted “it will happen”, adding: “It would be a wonderful thing where they’ve all aged into a mid-life crisis.”
By now the publicist is gripping her clipboard so hard her knuckles whiten. A young radio presenter with a comical-sized microphone head is itching to get in the ring. McGregor picks up his cue and slips back into Hollywood business mode, a man in a hurry. But, in case I am in doubt, he punctures any thoughts of a return to the heroin-ridden streets of Edinburgh, insisting he hasn’t yet seen any script. “I would be worried of damaging Trainspotting’s standing by making a poor sequel,” he says. “The film is too important to me and British cinema. If we made a crap sequel, it would be a real shame.”
Ewan McGregor takes the “one word” challenge for Hospice Care Week
As a supporter of Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), Ewan McGregor has backed the One Word challenge for Hospice Care Week by taking a photograph of himself with one word that springs to mind when he thinks of children’s hospice care - “fun”.
Dougray Scott, Lorraine Kelly, Carol Smillie, Colin McCredie, Willie Rennie MSP and Jackie Baillie MSP have also shown their support for the CHAS and the One Word challenge, run as part of the first ever Hospice Care Week from 8 to 14 October, with words including “Life”, “Peace” and “Amazing”.
CHAS Director of Fundraising and Communications Roslyn Neely said:
“The response we have had from our celebrity supporters has been terrific as they have really got behind this campaign. One Word is all about celebrating hospice care and illustrating that CHAS can mean different things to different people. For members of the public who might think that children’s hospices are sad places, we hope the campaign will help raise awareness of what fun, vibrant, inspiring places they can be for children, young people and their families.”
The One Word challenge is being run as part of the first ever Hospice Care Week from 8-14 October to celebrate the work of local charities that provide hospice care across the UK. You can join by tweeting your word followed by: #hospicecareweek, www.besurprised.org.uk.
The Scottish actor - who has appeared in blockbuster movies including Moulin Rouge, Star Wars and Angels & Demons - admits he has never thought about how he would go about getting a job in Hollywood and is “lucky” things have gone well, but still misses his wife Ève and four daughters when he isn’t with them.
He said: “The funny thing is that I’ve never had a career plan. In fact, I don’t know what one is. It’s just moved along at its own pace and luckily everything has fallen into place. The only downside with my work is that I’m away from the wife and kids for long periods of time, and that’s hard. Really hard.”
Now, after two years of filming on various movies, Ewan - who has travelled across the globe for a variety of TV shows - plans to spend some time away from the camera, but will continue to research future projects.
He told the Red Bulletin Magazine: “It’s difficult to reconcile going way on my own for four months. So I don’t have any plans to do any more at the moment - although I’m quite fascinated with South America. I really want to start paragliding. It’s the closest one can get to being a bird and it’s all natural. In the next few months I’m going to look into this.”
Ewan McGregor tells BBC’s One Show of his love for Crieff
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
The actor and charity worker, who has homes in France and London, said he retains close ties with Strathearn where he was born and raised before seeking the bright lights of movie stardom.
Crieff featured heavily on Tuesday’s night’s One Show, as McGregor was quizzed on his latest movie role.
Following a segment filmed in the town on his early life he said: “I go whenever I can because it’s nice to see everyone there.”
He also recalled the debt owed to parents Jim and Carol for setting him on the road to global fame in films like Trainspotting and Moulin Rouge.
He said: “I wasn’t happy at school when I was 16, in my penultimate year, because I was ready to leave and wanted to be an actor and wasn’t able to study the things I wanted to like music and art.
“I was in the car one night with mum and she said: ‘I’ve been talking to dad and if you want to leave school, you can.’ I couldn’t believe it and never went back.
“From there, I was straight into the theatre and started training as an actor. For them, it was a very brave decision to make and I’ll always be grateful for that.”
Also interviewed about McGregor in Crieff was David Gillies of Crieff Highland Gathering who — against a backdrop of pictures first seen in The Courier — recalled the burgeoning star’s stint as chieftain of the Games in 2001.
He joked that McGregor would have struggled to match the competitors, but was on hand to help carry the caber for the athletes.
McGregor’s new film, Perfect Sense, sees him appear alongside his uncle, Dennis Lawson — of Star Wars and Local Hero fame — for the first time.
McGregor said: “I’ve wanted all my life to do that — my uncle’s always been my hero and inspiration. I’ve wanted to be an actor since I was nine because I wanted to be like him.
“He’s directed me in a short film and on stage but we’ve never acted together until now and I was so excited about that.”
As well as acting across the world, McGregor is a campaigner for UNICEF and keen supporter of the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland.
Eva Green has revealed that a sick bucket was on standby on the set of her new film Perfect Sense.
The French beauty wore a figure-hugging lace Pucci gown to the premiere of the film in London’s Curzon Mayfair, where she was joined by co-star Ewan McGregor and director David Mackenzie.
The former Bond girl plays a scientist who begins a love affair with a chef (McGregor) at the same time as the world is swept by an epidemic of a terrible disease which causes the loss of the senses one at a time. Before losing taste they are struck by an uncontrollable hunger and devour anything they can.
Eva revealed: “That was quite intense. I had to eat flowers, lipstick, and toothpaste. But we had a bucket next to us… It was bonkers. But I didn’t die.”
Meanwhile, Ewan trained with professional chefs in Glasgow for the role.
He said: “It was a top end kitchen so we had to look like we knew what were we doing technically. So that was important to look at what makes a chef look like he’s a good chef.”
He admitted he hadn’t kept up his cooking skills since.
But the Moulin Rouge star did say he would be keen to play Sir Elton John in his new musical biopic Rocketman, after he was tipped for the part.
Ewan said: “I’d be delighted - send me the script, Elton.”
Perfect Sense also stars Ewan’s uncle Denis Lawson, the director’s brother Alastair McKenzie and Trainspotting’s Ewen Bremner, who all attended the screening.
Stars make shocking video for the ONE campaign to put a stop to famine
A whole host of our favourite stars have come together to create a powerful video to launch the Hungry No More campaign, part of ONE; a global anti-poverty group co-founded by Bono.
George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jessica Alba, Idris Elba, Bono, Annie Lennox, Colin Farrell and Bill Nighy are amongst the familiar faces who appear in The F Word: Famine is the Real Obscenity video.
They all say “the F word” (as does Joe Jonas, which particularly shocked us!) before explaining that the real obscenity is the famine in the Somalia and the fact that children are starving in 2011. Drought is an act of nature. Famine is man-made.
Its not the usual “appeal” video and definitely has great shock appeal.
Bono said: “More than 30,000 children have died in just 3 months. Mothers are forced to decide who to feed and who to let die. In 2011? That’s obscene. This is complicated, no-one’s pretending it’s easy.”
He added: “There are things that can be done, and if we really believe the life of a child in East Africa is worth the same as the lives of our own children, we have to act.”
The way we can act is by visitingwww.ONE.organd signing a petition to hold world leaders to account for promises they have made to ensure people are hungry no more.
Ewan McGregor backs RAF coast to coast cycle challenge
3 October 2011
Ministry of Defence (L-R Squadron Leader Duncan Mason (Project Manager) Sergeant Justin Staveley and Ewan McGregor.
Actor Ewan McGregor has given his backing to a charity cycle ride in memory of the Red Arrows pilot killed after completing an air display.
The Jon Egging Coast to Coast Challenge on October 11 2011 will see a combined team of cyclists from the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows Display Teams attempt to cross the UK at its widest point in just 4 days.
The route will begin at St David’s Head in Wales and finish in Lowestoft, with cyclists averaging 100 miles a day.
Money raised will help a trust set up by Flt Lt Jon Egging’s widow Emma. The Jon Egging Trust aims to give disadvantaged young people the opportunity to achieve their potential through gaining access to a variety of inspirational activities and experiencing the thrill of flight.
Actor Ewan McGregor said: “I wish the guys all the luck in the world. Some of them may be hoping to manage with little training – I’m sure they’ll all pull through together.”
Ewan McGregor interview: Mr Sunshine vs the apocalypse
Sunday 2 October 2011 By Sanjiv Bhattacharya, The Observer
In the corner of his regular haunt, a bustling restaurant in the posh suburb of Brentwood, Los Angeles, Ewan McGregor takes a break from his shrimp salad to consider the apocalypse.
“I’m not remotely worried,” he says. “For all of the hurtling towards climate change, there’s also a lot more understanding of it than there was when we were kids. They don’t call environmentalists tree huggers any more, so there’s hope!”
Doomsday would be an odd fixation for McGregor. After all, life is rather good. He has five movies coming down the pipe, and promising ones, too. There’s Bryan Singer’s sword-swinging fantasy Jack the Giant Killer and The Impossible, in which he and Naomi Watts face the 2004 tsunami. He also plays a stuffy scientist who falls for Emily Blunt in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and he’s part of an all-star ensemble in Steven Soderbergh’s action thriller Haywire.
But the first and most original film of this batch is Perfect Sense, a small Scottish indie about, among other things, the end of the world. It’s a trending topic this year – the end has seldom been so nigh. At the multiplex, humanity has been under more or less constant threat since January: from aliens (Battle Los Angeles), apes (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), asteroids (Melancholia) and now disease (Contagion). In Perfect Sense, McGregor plays a Glaswegian chef who falls in love with an epidemiologist (Eva Green) while they – and the rest of the human race – lose their senses one by one. First to go is smell, then taste, then hearing, with each loss preceded by a spell of extreme derangement: crippling grief, rabid hunger or violent rage. No explanation is given, no exception is made, and it’s not clear that anyone can stop it. It is quietly petrifying.
“We get so many reactions to this film,” says McGregor. “Someone I know saw it in London recently and was fine until half an hour later, when she got the tube home. Then she just broke down crying. But I didn’t see it as the end of the world at all. When I read the script, I felt it was a really nicely written love story and the backdrop was a metaphor for falling in love. You know how we say that you lose your senses when you fall in love?”
McGregor’s own disposition is as sunny as the Los Angeles skies. He looks tanned and boyish in a faded T-shirt and jeans; his bicycle helmet is on the chair beside him (he lives just a couple of minutes away). He’s never been overly discouraged by the traditional portents of disaster, like climate change, bird flu and the return of Jersey Shore.
“Ha ha! Yes, I’m hopeful, always have been. I’ve never had that fear of: ‘Oh my God, how can you bring kids into this world?’ I’m a much more positive person than that. I wouldn’t have wanted my parents not to have me because they thought like that, would I? Because, look – I’m having a great time!”
This much is certainly true. Over a 20-year career spanning 46 movies, he has wielded a light sabre, shot heroin, fought wars and slept with countless beautiful women, and a few men, too. Life looked peachy at the turn of the millennium with the first Star Wars movie under his belt – followed by the huge success of Moulin Rouge. He went off around the world on a motorbike with his friend Charley Boorman in the Long Way Round.
But when he returned, things took a bit of a dive. Star Wars didn’t launch him into a spangly new category of stardom. There followed a string of movies that underwhelmed critics and the box office – Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, Miss Potter and Scenes of a Sexual Nature. Even when he worked with Woody Allen in Cassandra’s Dream, the film was universally panned.
This year might be seen as a renaissance: since last year’s The Ghost Writer – the Robert Harris-scripted thriller directed by Roman Polanski – it seems that McGregor’s graph has begun to swing upwards once more. “But I would never draw a graph of my career,” points out McGregor. “I don’t look at things that way. On the vertical axis you could have box office, or personal satisfaction, and whenever you start thinking about that you never feel on top. There were films that were never seen by anyone but they were still important. Everything is a stepping stone. I’m sure my agents would be able to tell you exactly where I am on that graph, but I’m not sure that I want to know, really! The main thing is what’s next – the future.”
He seems propelled by a simple sense of adventure. “I turned 40 in March,” he says. “But I don’t feel it – you never do. I still want to kick around on BMX bikes! I have to ask my wife: ‘Do I look like a cock, or is this all right, the way I’m dressed?’ Because you don’t want to be ‘that guy’, but you also don’t want to listen to that voice either. I want to wear skinny jeans when I’m in my 70s. Why not? Who cares?”
According to David Mackenzie, the director of Perfect Sense, McGregor is “a delight”, but there’s “a complexity to him that isn’t just all sunny and eager. He’s more than just an all-round jack-the-lad good egg. He has his dark side.”
Mackenzie would know. They first worked together on Young Adam in 2003, a tightly wrought noir about a cold-hearted drifter who engages in a series of loveless sexual encounters with Tilda Swinton and Emily Mortimer. McGregor recalls the experience with a chuckle. “David’s the classic tortured artist on set,” he says. “Tearing his hair out, you know, full of angst. And he does have a taste for darkness. We had some odd conversations about what to do in each sex scene, to come up with ideas that were sexual but cold. Like: ‘Maybe she should just jerk him off in the sink?’ That’s not the kind of conversation you have with most directors!”
Mackenzie remembers that McGregor set about this rather difficult material in a typically unfussy manner. “Some actors are very demanding of your energy, but Ewan has a straightforward practicality that I find very refreshing,” he says. “You know: ‘Let’s not make this overcomplicated; let’s just get on with it and do some good work.’ If I want to do a scene in a film which is relatively honest – say the couple has just had sex, so they’re going to be naked – he’s always quite comfortable with it. To the point of being actually evangelical for nude scenes!”
There was a full-frontal scene in Young Adam that was cut from that film until McGregor lobbied to have it reinstated. In Perfect Sense, we see him naked again: I wonder if nudity is practically a tradition for McGregor by now. After Young Adam, Velvet Goldmine, Trainspotting and The Pillow Book in 1996 – where he was naked for most of the movie – his old chap has quite the sizzle reel.
“Oh yeah, my cock’s got a great career,” he laughs. “It’s got its own Facebook page and Twitter account and everything.” He recalls the time he starred in What the Butler Saw by Joe Orton in a tweedy theatre in Salisbury. “I had to stand up naked from behind a sofa and grab a policeman’s helmet to cover myself and dash across the stage,” he says. “One day I let the helmet go, just for effect, and there was this gasp – it was a matinée and the whole blue-rinse brigade was there. I loved it! I felt very powerful in that moment. So I kept doing it. But one day someone spilt water on the stage and I slipped and landed on my back. I was sliding with my legs up, arse first into the front row!”
One of the highlights of shooting Perfect Sense – alongside licking shaving cream (actually white chocolate) off Eva Green in a bath – was acting for the first time alongside his uncle, Denis Lawson, the man who had inspired him to take up the profession in the first place. Lawson came from the same small Scottish town of Crieff (population 6,579) where McGregor grew up. McGregor’s father was a gym teacher and his mum worked with special needs children – there were no artists in his family besides Uncle Denis.
“If you took my uncle out of the equation,” he says, “I don’t know if I’d have even thought to become an actor. I’d have been a…” – he shrugs and looks around as a sous chef emerges from the kitchens in a tall white hat – “a baker or something.
“I just wanted to be him when I was growing up,” he says. “He’d arrive up in Crieff from London, where he’d already moved, and he’d come back in the 70s, you know, with feathers in his hair, sheepskin waistcoat, no shoes and beads and stuff. I’d be like: ‘I want to be that guy.’ And the fact that he came from the same small town made it look possible.”
His parents let him leave school at 16 to follow his dream. He joined the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and found success so quickly that he dropped out before graduating to star in the acclaimed Dennis Potter TV series Lipstick on Your Collar. A year later came Shallow Grave, then a spell on Kavanagh QC, where he met his wife Ève, a production designer. And no sooner were they married in 1995 than Trainspotting made McGregor a household name, at least in the UK. Once he landed the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1999, he became a household name pretty much everywhere else.
It was around this time that McGregor gave up drinking. But not in the traditional manner of meetings and sponsors and 12 steps. Instead McGregor just quietly quit and has never looked back. “I just couldn’t fit it in,” he says. “I had a family and a career, and there just wasn’t the time to drink as well. It’s not that big a deal. In England we think it’s funny that we drink a lot. It’s a badge of honour, and I think that’s pathetic, really.”
He became increasingly prolific in his work. McGregor has always made film after film, back to back – he’s the actor who likes to say yes. There was a time when he considered working less, perhaps taking a leaf out of Daniel Day-Lewis’s book, for example. It didn’t last. “I think it’d be quite cool to do what he does, and make just one amazing film every five years,” he says. “But I just couldn’t do it; there’s no way. I like to work too much. And I’ve got a family to support. When you make smaller films, you don’t make the kind of money where you can take years off.”
Lewis was one of McGregor’s early idols. His own style, however, is very different – he doesn’t practise method acting and argues that it’s largely misinterpreted by inexperienced, insecure actors. “Obviously Daniel doesn’t do it like this, but a lot of actors do it because there’s a safety in it: ‘If I do all this, I’ll be OK.’ But it can very often be a guise for just being horrible to everybody!
“I find that the acting’s getting easier – with experience, everything is more instinctual. The hardest part is the hanging about in between. The boring parts become more boring: ‘How can I spend the next two hours in this caravan?’ For the first 15 years I ran around wasting all my energy, but now I try and use my time constructively. Oh you should see my needlepoint – it’s amazing.”
He’d like to direct, though he doesn’t take the transition lightly. “It’s quite scary,” he says. “There’s lots of voices on your shoulder saying: ‘It’ll be shit’, ‘What makes you think you can tell a story?’ You know, the negative voices. Much more so than in acting.” And he wouldn’t mind doing another epic motorbike journey either, but on his own this time. “It’s a purer way to do it. Because, you know, Charley might want to go on ahead, while I might want to bimble around. So I might ship a bike to Patagonia or Peru and just ride around there for six weeks.
“I do still have the bug, but I just can’t justify taking off from my family, really,” he continues, “particularly when I’ve been away so much this past year already [he spent five months in Thailand shooting The Impossible, then six in England for Jack the Giant Killer].” So for now he’s staying home in Los Angeles. He doesn’t live in some gated celebrity enclave up on Mulholland Drive, but on a normal street, rich but not starry. He bought the place many years ago, thinking it would be nice to have a place to stay if he ever had to make a film there. “But no one shoots in Los Angeles any more,” he says. So he rented the house out until three years ago, when he and Ève decided to try living there just for the hell of it.
“I thought I would live in London for ever,” he says. “So there’s a lot of novelty to living out here. But I love it. It’s always a nice day to ride your motorbike. And I’m not often recognised here. Well, I wear my balaclava, obviously.”
And for a change he’s actually got some time on his hands. “I’m not going to work till next year, I’ve promised myself,” he says. That means he’s free to tinker about with his collection of old VWs and motorbikes – one of his favourite hobbies. Speaking of which, he needs to be going – “My Italian motorbike guy is going to come by,” he says. And with that he grabs his helmet, unlocks his bike outside and slips down a sun-dappled side street, a man content, with the sun on his back, pressing eagerly forwards.
On the Jonathan Ross Show last night, Wossy got a kiss from Ewan McGregor!
October 1st, 2011 By Sarah
On Friday’s edition of The Jonathan Ross Show, which aired on ITV1 at 9.30pm, Jonathan was the envy of ladies up and down the land as one of his guests, Ewan McGregor, planted a smacker on Jonathan’s lips!
Ewan – who guest starred on the show alongside comedian Alan Partridge and X Factor judges Gary Barlow and Tulisa Contostavlos – puckered up for Jonathan when asked what it’s like to play a gay man, as he has done in some of his films.
“Have you ever kissed a man?” Ewan asked Jonathan. “Do you want to kiss me know?”
Tulisa, who was sitting in the green room with Gary Barlow, rushed onto the set with her lippy and put it on Ewan before he went in for the kiss.
“That was a voyage of discovery for me,” admitted Jonathan afterwards!
[Film synopsis snipped, click the source link to read it]
Trainspotting arrives on Blu-ray in 1080p High Definition [Amazon.com, $13.99]. The transfer preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The print used for this new Blu-ray release seems to be the same source used for the previous Collector’s Edition DVD. The image is clean for the most part (though some specks of dirt do occasionally show up). Colors are notably improved and contrast is impressive. The image isn’t the sharpest image available in High Definition but it is significantly sharper and better defined that any previous editions (including the Canadian Alliance Blu-ray release) of this film. There is also a greater sense of depth to the image and that is certainly appreciable. Owners of the DVD will want to consider upgrading and anyone who has yet to purchase the film shouldn’t have to worry about the presentation quality. It’s a thoroughly nice release.
The images featured in this review are from the DVD release and do not represent the High Definition Blu-ray picture quality.
The film is presented with an impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track that matches the stellar video presentation. The dialogue is easy to hear (and I would say understand but some people have a problem with the thick accents). Not to worry: while the film is presented in English (as it should be) the dubbed version that toned down the accents and that was made available at one point is not included on this release. Optional subtitles are provided in English, Spanish, and in English for the deaf and hearing impaired. The best thing about hearing the lossless audio may very well be the phenomenal music. It does sound better than ever.
This Blu-ray release is packed to the brim with excellent supplemental materials and all of the amazing supplements featured on the Collector’s Edition DVD are ported over. Nothing new has been added (besides a Digital Copy). Each bonus feature is presented in Standard Definition (SD).
The first supplement is an audio commentary by Danny Boyle, Andrew MacDonald, John Hodge, and Ewan McGregor. It would make an excellent listening experience for fans of the film.
A Trainspotting Retrospective is broken down into several informative key sections (unfortunately, there is no ’play all’ option).
Look of the Film: Then (4:02) / Now (3:14)
These segments give some thoughtful insight into the visual qualities of the film through use of some interesting interviews. These features do seem a bit short but are worth a watch.
Sound of the Film: Then (7:42) / Now (4:51)
These features cover the sound design and music used in the film. The best part was getting to hear Danny Boyle explain about the sound-mixing process and the significance of finding the right songs to use in each scene (when the opening of the film is shown briefly with a much more solemn sounding piece the entire mood is changed). This extra is definitely for those curious about the music aspect of Trainspotting.
Interviews: Origins: Irvine Welsh (4:37), John Hodge (7:53), Danny Boyle (14:32), Andrew MacDonald (10:33)
Each interview provides a great deal of insight into the film. Irvine Welsh (the author of the novel) discusses how the transition was made to cinema and shares some thoughts about the adaptation. John Hodge, the screenwriter, discusses his process and how he found it to be a significantly more manageable process than writing his own original screenplay (which he did for Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave). It was fascinating to hear him share his thoughts on how he approached adapting the novel (but perhaps the coolest part was finding out that he was a doctor before becoming a screenwriter - something that he always wanted to be). Danny Boyle gives the most detailed and thorough interview (it was also the longest of the interviews). Boyle talks about how he first read the novel and how much he wanted to turn it into a film and why. He describes his approach to the story. Any fan of Danny Boyle as a director will find this an educational and entertaining interview. Lastly, Andrew MacDonald gives an insightful look
at the production standpoint of creating the film and the challenges found in telling a story like Trainspotting and making it stand out for audiences.
Behind the Needle - Angle 1 (6:23), Angle 2 (6:23), and Angle 3 (6:23)
This extra demonstrates three different viewpoints of a scene being filmed: Director Danny Boyle watching the scene being filmed on a screen, the actual footage, and a split-screen comparison between the first two angles.
Carlton Athletic Boys (:32) - A short featurette about the sports team from the beginning of the film.
The Making of Trainspotting (9:32) - This feature isn’t comprehensive as a making of as it consists of more interviews discussing the film and characters than the work process. This standard piece does contain some interesting interviews though and it does a good enough job of emphasizing some of the strengths of the film.
Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary)
Includes: #24 (:56), #31 (:35), #32 (1:24), #73 (:58), #142 (1:22), #143 (2:25), #188 (1:18), #191 (:54), and Montage Scene (:52). These are certainly worth checking out for anyone who wants to try and better understand the editing process and how it can affect things for a film. Each of these scenes has something worthwhile to offer and yet it is still clear why they were cut from the final film.
These interviews are obviously quite short. Each interview was taken from the Cannes Film Festival premiere of Trainspotting. Having said that, these are entertaining interviews and they are each worth watching to hear the brief thoughts that relate to the film on one level or another.
Gallery (5:06) - This is a video collection of snapshots that were taken during the filming of Trainspotting.
Theatrical Teaser (1:11)
Theatrical Trailer (2:01)
Lastly, trailers are included for other Lionsgate Blu-ray releases and a bookmarks feature allows viewers to create their own bookmarks.
Trainspotting is one of the best and most important films made during the 1990’s. It was electrifying for audiences worldwide, it helped to change some of the scope of possibilities found in British cinema, and it told an incredible story in a way that few expected. Director Danny Boyle suddenly became well known and nothing has been quite the same ever since. Ewan McGregor was phenomenal as the lead character Renton. This one is a real classic to appreciate in all of its many unique wonders. Highly Recommended.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a film student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does within the Texas state.
Toronto Film Festival 2011: Behind-the-Scenes Photo of Ewan!
â€śI play a fisheries scientist, which is not a very sexy thing to be,â€ť said Ewan McGregor of his role in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. In preparation for the part, McGregor learned how to fly fish. â€śI can actually see why people get into it. It takes your mind off of everything else,â€ť he said of the experience.
Ash are to release their forthcoming Best Of compilation with a special documentary film, Teenage Wildlife.
Narrated by Ewan McGregor with a script by the late NME journalist Steven Wells, the self-funded film charts the bandâ€™s rise to stardom in their teenage years and their debut album 1977, their first American tour and the subsequent debauchery that ensued.
â€śIt was hard for me to watch it for a while as we were going through complete nervous breakdowns trying to deal with it all as we were so young,â€ť says Tim Wheeler. â€śBut itâ€™s a really cool document of that whole time especially as it was a lot harder to make documentaries on the road back then and there was a lot of craziness.â€ť
The DVD will also feature all the bandâ€™s videos for the first time. The Best Of Ash is released on October 17.
Sneak preview of Ouija horror film shot entirely on Super 8mm draws star support from Ewan McGregor and freaks ’em out in Santa Monica
September 07, 2011
Director Scott Di Lalla with Ewan McGregor at the I Am ZoZo preview screening
After more than a year of work filmmakers Scott Di Lalla and Zack Coffman unleashed their newest film on the unsuspecting crowd gathered at Laemmle’s Monica 4-plex for a sneak preview of Ouija movie, “I Am ZoZo.” that was shot entirely using Super 8mm. All the young actors were on-hand for the screening and Ewan McGregor even arrived on his motorcycle to support the film.
I Am ZoZo is a psychological horror film about five young people who play with a Ouija board and attract the attention of the malevolent Ouija demon ZoZo. The film is based on widely reported real experiences with this ancient and malevolent spirit that attaches itself to people exclusively through the Ouija board. The film was shot last Halloween entirely on location on San Juan Island, WA and Seattle and was shot entirely on Kodak Super 8mm negative film stock.
The film was crafted with a European sensibility (ala the Dardenne brothers) and the unique look of Super8mm harkens back to the golden age of horror. I Am ZoZo was intentionally made to be as legitimately scary as possible while steering clear of overt violence, sex, or language to maximize viewership potential; holding to the age-old maxim that, “That which is unseen is the most terrifying.”
I Am ZoZo is the sixth feature from award-winning One World Studios toppers Scott DiLalla (writer/director) and Zack Coffman (producer). Their previous features having been docs, DiLalla and Coffman bring a unique verite style to the film while still maintaining the “fourth wall”. On the making of the first legitimate Ouija movie since Witchboard, DiLalla had this to say, “So many young people are out there playing this for fun, I wanted to show the darker side of what can happen. A real horror film shouldn’t be about selling toys, it should be truly frightening on a deeper level. I Am ZoZo is a cautionary tale that will sit with people long after they’ve seen it.”
I Am ZoZo features actor Caleb Courtney, the older brother of Super8 star Joel Courtney.
Darren Evans of Oklahoma City survived a well-documented ZoZo attack and has since dedicated his life to warning people about the dangers of Ouija boards and this demon. The self-styled Zozologist travels the country meeting with other survivors and assisting them in disposing of their boards and eradicating the demon from their lives. Mr. Evans is featured as himself in I Am ZoZo.
The music for the film features independent stalwarts such as Mark Kozelek (Almost Famous, Blood Warrior and The Tragic Tantrum) and the haunting score was composed by award-winning composer BC Smith (Smoke Signals).
From the I Am ZoZo website:
WARNING: this film is based on a real Ouija Board experience gone wrong. — Five young people play with a Ouija board on Halloween weekend and things take a terrible turn for the worst when they become the target of the malevolent Ouija spirit that calls itself ZoZo. Based on documented true events.
About the One World Studios Ltd.:
Founded 2002 One World Studios has grown into an award-winning, fully integrated independent film company specializing in the production and distribution of films, DVD, online movie streaming, music and associated original and licensed merchandise.
Their first motorcycle movie “Choppertown: the Sinners” focused on a renowned group of California bikers known as the Sinners. Produced in 2005 with a stack of credit cards, this award-winning documentary heralded a return to the values of a simpler time. The anti-Hollywood picture shows the true story of a young Sinner and his biker brothers as they help him build an old-school custom bike from the ground up. Their motto: “A bike isn’t finished until you put some miles on it with your bros.” Featuring several well-known Sinners such as rocker James Intveld, insane skater Jason Jessee, custom builder Cole Foster, and Kutty Noteboom.
The filmmakers are currently entertaining offers for “I Am ZoZo” from theatrical distributors.
UPDATE: Since the screening several audience members have actually reported night terrors and insomnia due to the disturbing mental imagery portrayed in the film.
Pop in and check out this year’s Jeans for Genes celebrity jeans artworks being exhibited as part of The Rocks Pop Up Project. Artworks will be auctioned off at Jeans for Genes Gala Dinner on September 9 with all proceeds going to the Children’s Medical Research Institute.
The exhibition showcases jeans from local and international celebrities including Brett Lee, Ewan McGregor and Gordon Ramsay.
Famed as much for her fashion as her acting, Cate Blanchett has parted with her jeans to be painted by Archibald 2010 Packers’ Prize winner, Nafisa Naomi, and the jeans belonging to the team (Luke Nolan and Peter Moody) behind the world’s best racehorse, Black Caviar, are being painted by Alister Simpson.
Channel 9 TV personality Jules Lund’s jeans are being painted by renowned artist Paul Doran and Golden Globe winning actress Marisa Tomei has parted with a pair of her denim threads to be decorated by artist Yvonne Sherring-Howard.
Ewan McGregor: These rioters don’t reflect my Britain
28 August 2011 Margarette Driscoll
They are used to the eccentricities of fame in Hollywood but, even so, Ewan McGregor and his pink poodle, Sid, must be quite a sight roaring around Beverly Hills — the actor on his motorbike and the dog riding shotgun in the sidecar. “I got it specially,” McGregor says. “We go pretty much everywhere together.”
In London, Sid often looks out on the world from the basket on the front of McGregor’s bicycle. Today, he’s curled up in the actor’s lap, snoozing, on a restaurant terrace surrounded by immaculate stuccoed villas near the actor’s home in St John’s Wood.
It’s the lull before the lunchtime rush and probably all the more quiet as it’s a drizzly day, yet McGregor does not merit a second glance from the few people who settle themselves at tables or pass by. This unstarry ability to meld into the background is quite astonishing given the prolific nature of McGregor’s film career.
Beginners, a bittersweet tale in which he plays a man who finds out his father is both gay and has cancer, is playing in cinemas now. He has recently finished filming Steven Soderbergh’s black ops thriller Haywire, and a film adaptation of Paul Torday’s bestselling political satire, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
In fact McGregor has been working so hard that he has “about six” movies waiting to be released. “It was getting a bit embarrassing, so I thought I’d take a break and let a few of them come out,” he says.
So he has been chilling out in London with his French wife, Ève, and their four daughters — two natural, two adopted — for the past few months, interspersed with trips to France and Scotland, where he grew up.
After several years based in America, supposedly the most materialistic culture on Earth, it was a shock to come home to the smash-and-grab mentality of the recent riots. “It’s sort of shaming when you think about the kind of social unrest that’s been going on in Egypt or Syria or Libya, where people are demonstrating against something. The riots didn’t seem to be about anything, they were just focused on violence and looting … or have I missed something?” he says.
“It’s no way to make any point, smashing windows and stealing shoes. And I don’t think it’s reflective of Britain today, I really don’t. That’s the upsetting thing about it: people in other countries will think of these troublemakers as being symbolic of what Britain’s like at the moment. And that’s not been my experience at all.”
It is against the backdrop of arrests following the general free-for-all that he is launching a charity appeal to help famine-stricken victims in southern Somalia and across the Horn of Africa. Some 250 children are dying there every day: one boy or girl every six minutes. “I’ve got children myself and I can’t imagine being in a situation where I couldn’t feed them or get them to a doctor,” says McGregor. “It’s so brutal in southern Somalia at the moment. There’s the famine, but there’s also a lot of unrest and conflict that’s making the famine even worse.
“It’s all very well to say people in Peckham or wherever don’t have any money, but the people who were out on the streets were not stealing food.”
On previous charity trips, and during travels such as Long Way Down, his epic motorbike journey with his friend Charley Boorman, he has witnessed at first hand the sort of suffering that is now spreading across the Horn of Africa.
“I’ve seen malnourished children, tiny babies that were close to death,” he says. “In Malawi, I remember seeing a girl who was dying. She had HIV and, because there was such a stigma attached to the virus, this girl had been left by her husband. Her family didn’t want anything to do with her and she was all alone in this hut with a baby. It was clear that she wasn’t going to last very much longer and then there’s this little baby who may or may not be HIV positive, and you think, ‘What’s going to happen to her?’ It’s hard to walk away.”
Which is perhaps why he and his wife, in addition to their own daughters, Clara, 15, and Esther, 9, have adopted two more girls, Jamiyan, also 9, who is Mongolian and joined the family five years ago, and a now seven-month-old baby, whose name has not been made public.
McGregor makes it a rule not to talk about his children, because the idea of being bracketed with Angelina Jolie and Madonna makes him cringe — “I don’t like the way people talk about adoption and celebrities. I don’t want to be involved in it. It’s very private” — although he has the children’s names inscribed on a heart and dagger tattoo on his arm.
He met his wife, who is five years older than him, when she was working as a production designer on the set of Kavanagh QC and he made a guest appearance in an episode in 1995. After 16 years, he appreciates “that lovely feeling of being with someone for a really long time … you know each other so well and you’re so comfortable in each other’s company”. The family travels with him as much as possible, mostly in the holidays. “My children have a privileged life in that they have a good education and they’re well looked after and well fed but we don’t swan around; they don’t have a glamorous life,” he says.
“We try to keep their life as ordinary as possible, so it’s more realistic. It’s not a showbizzy, glamorous life that they lead. I do,” he adds, laughing. “They don’t.”
McGregor recently turned 40, which he notes is “about time for a mid-life crisis”. But the things men traditionally adopt as outward symbols of inner turmoil — motorbikes and long journeys to “find themselves” — he has already ticked off his list.
So he is constantly looking for new sources of adventure. Earlier this month he took part in a 50-mile charity yacht race during Cowes week, when the other competitors included the newlywed Zara Phillips.
“It was amazing,” he says. “I was with a team in a 60ft single hull usually raced two-handed, designed to go far and fast. It was exciting and scary at times. Going out, you’re fine because the spinnaker at the front picks up the wind and stays quite steady, but when you go round the back of the island you’re going against the wind and the boat’s leaning right over.
“So there’s this guy right out the front on the bowsprit … I got the chance to steer the boat and it tipped down into the water and he totally disappeared. I thought, ‘I’ve killed that boy,’ but then the boat came out of the wave and he was still there tying the sail on. Incredible.”
He has been reading a book about the notorious Golden Globe Race, a single-handed round-the-world race sponsored by The Sunday Times in 1968, in which Donald Crowhurst, a British businessman and amateur sailor, faked his positions — to the extent that he was thought to be a likely winner — then disappeared.
McGregor relishes the idea of the adventure but not the solitude that such adventures entailed. “I don’t think I could take it,” he says. “The idea of being that cut off … when the Frenchman in the race wanted to let people know he was okay, he would sail near to a fishing boat then ping a message over with a catapult then sail off again. You really were on your own.”
He is not sure where his own yearning for adventure comes from: with a wife and four daughters, could it be an escape from being overwhelmed by a girlie household?
“No, no, I would never want to do anything to get away from my kids and my wife because I love them so much,” he laughs. “It’s not an antidote to that. It would be wrong to think the travelling was an antidote to anything, though people have suggested it’s a way of getting away from my work and from film sets and it is different to that.
“On a film set you’re not in charge of anything, you’re told when you can get up and what scenes you’re going to shoot, so you’re sort of babied through it all as an actor. The good thing about biking is you’re in charge, you decide when you put petrol in your tank and where to stop and where to sleep.” In any case, he says, his travels were never particularly dangerous.
“It was more about meeting people who live very different lives from yours,” he says. “It gives you a different perspective on your own life when you meet people who live in forgotten towns in Siberia or in the middle of nowhere in Africa and you wonder how they survive because there’s nothing there. How do they live?”
To watch Ewan McGregor’s appeal, go to unicef.org.uk. Unicef is asking donors to text the word SHARE to 78866 to give Ł5 or by donating online at unicef.org.uk/share.
Artemis Challenge 2011 : Ewan McGregor, Zara Phillips & Natalie Pinkham Race Round the IOW
Aug 10, 2011
The fifth edition of the Artemis Challenge was a near record-breaking day out for Ewan McGregor, Zara Phillips and Natalie Pinkham, who joined world class skippers for the 50-mile sprint around the Isle of Wight. The Artemis Challenge, at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, the world’s largest sailing regatta and one of the UK’s biggest sporting events, saw four IMOCA 60 teams battle it out for a Ł10,000 prize fund for the charity of their choice. First across the line was French entry PRB skippered by Vincent Riou, winner of the last solo, non-stop Vendee Globe, in a time of 4 hours, 14 minutes and 1 second, narrowly missing out on breaking the previous fastest time by just 13 seconds, set by Team Pindar (4h 13m 48s) in the 2008 Artemis Challenge.
Ewan McGregor is taking part in a sailing sprint around the Isle of Wight in aid of charity.
Zara Phillips is joining the Hollywood actor in the 50-mile Artemis Challenge on Wednesday, which is part of Cowes Week on the island.
Trainspotting star Ewan is aboard Hugo Boss with yachtsman Alex Thomson and he will be raising money for Unicef.
The Newlywed royal, who married England rugby captain Mike Tindall last month, will sail on Artemis Ocean Racing with record breaking yachtswoman Dee Caffari in aid of the service personnel rehabilitation charity Toe in the Water.
There are few occasions in history when we can say that the actions of a few changed the destiny not just of a country - but of the world. The Battle of Britain is one of those moments. To mark the Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, arguably the most important event in modern British history, brothers Colin and Ewan McGregor present a ninety minute special for BBC1 leading us through the timeline of events during the height of the Battle. Colin is an R.A.F veteran of twenty years’ service - Ewan a hero of the big screen and fledgling pilot himself. Together they take us on a journey to honour the heroes of 1940 both on the ground and in the air, bringing the story of the Battle of Britain to a new generation. They will take to the skies over Southern England as Spitfires and Hurricanes once again fly over the White Cliffs of Dover. They discover the legacy of the Battle and reveal the inspiring personal stories of the few who were there and those still with us today. Using great aerial footage mixed with impressive historical archive film material this is truly the definitive programme on the Battle of Britain.
Amazon.co.uk will release The Battle of Britain on 12 September 2011. You can pre-order it for Ł8.99.
Ewan McGregor, Zara Phillips and Natalie Pinkham come to the Isle of Wight next week to take part in the Artemis Challenge.
The challenge, a 50-mile race around the Island to claim a Ł10,000 charity prize fund, will take place on Wednesday, in the middle of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.
McGregor, who will join British round-the-world skipper Alex Thomson on board Hugo Boss, said: “I’m excited to experience the thrill of yacht racing from the very deck of the boat and I’ll be doing my best to help Alex win so that we can donate the prize money to UNICEF’s East Africa Appeal.
“There’s never been a more important time to support the children of the region, who so desperately need our help.”
Zara Phillips, former world champion equestrienne, will be racing her third Artemis Challenge on Artemis Ocean Racing, skippered this year by record-breaking yachtswoman Dee Caffari.
TV and radio presenter Natalie Pinkham will sail with Zara and Dee, racing to support Toe in the Water, a non-profit organisation, which uses sailing as a vehicle to re-inspire injured servicemen and women, all of whom have been profoundly wounded, some sustaining loss of limbs and who are currently being treated at Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre.
Dee Caffari said: “It is great to be back on the helm of Artemis Ocean Racing to try to win Ł10,000 for Toe in the Water.”
The Artemis Challenge, sponsored by Artemis Investment Management, is recognised as one of the key events of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week and is a magnificent spectacle, showcasing the best of offshore racing within easy reach of spectators.
The start line this year already features a world class line-up of five latest generation IMOCA 60s, the same racing machines that compete in the legendary non-stop round the world Vendee Globe solo race.
The race follows the classic America’s Cup route around the Isle of Wight, starting at 10am on the Royal Yacht Squadron Line.
The winner will be the IMOCA 60 that takes line honours after completing the 50-mile sprint back to the Royal Yacht Squadron Line (weather permitting), winning Ł10,000 for the charity of choice of the skipper.
Ewan McGregor, Whoopi Goldberg to judge Hero Dog Awards
LOS ANGELES - Film star Ewan McGregor and actress and animal rights campaigner Betty White will join Whoopi Goldberg and other stars on a panel to judge a new heroic dog award show, the Hallmark Channel said on Wednesday.
The American Humane Association is bringing the celebrities on board for its inaugural Hero Dog Awards, a TV contest which recognizes “thousands of specially trained dogs giving comfort to people every day,” the American Humane Association said.
The winning dogs will also get to attend their own red carpet awards gala in Beverly Hills.
Canine movie star Rin Tin Tin, a dog rescued from the frontlines of World War I in France who later became an American icon and movie idol, will be given a special legacy award, presented to one of his doggie descendants.
Dogs compete in eight categories: law enforcement and arson dogs; service dogs; therapy dogs; military dogs; guide dogs; search and rescue dogs; hearing dogs, and emerging hero dogs, for “ordinary pets who do extraordinary things,” according to the Hallmark Channel.
White, 89, of The Golden Girls TV fame, also works for several animal organizations, including the Los Angeles Zoo.
Other celebrity judges include personal trainer Jillian Michaels and Glee castmember and dog lover Kristin Chenoweth. The 90-minute show will be broadcast on Hallmark on November 11.
Here’s our first official look at Ewan McGregor’s new movie, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen ahead of its debut at the Toronto Film Festival who have unveiled these new images. He stars alongside Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas in a movie directed by Lasse Hallström.
Ewan McGregor stars as a fisheries scientist who finds himself saddled with the task of introducing salmon fishing to the Highlands of Yemen. Director Lasse Hallström adapts this charming British comedy from Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the Toronto Film Festival!
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen will be shown at this year’s Toronto Film Festival that runs September 8 to 18, 2011, in Toronto, Canada.
Here is the synopsis for the film:
Ewan McGregor stars as a fisheries scientist who finds himself saddled with the task of introducing salmon fishing to the Highlands of Yemen. Director Lasse Hallström adapts this charming British comedy from Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel.
Stuffy government fisheries scientist Fred is asked by a fishing-obsessed Arab Sheik to do the seemingly impossible – introduce British salmon to the wadis of the Yemen. Despite considerable trepidation, Fred is finally won over by the charismatic Sheik, who reveals that fishing brings him closer to God, and he hopes it will have the same effect on his countrymen. Fred also begins to fall for the Sheiks beautiful legal representative Harriet; and so he rises to the Sheiks eccentric challenge, casting off his English reserve on a transformative journey of self discovery and late blooming love.
New teaser poster for Haywire released at Comic-Con
July 21, 2011 By Joey Cole
From Relativity Media Oscar winning director Steven Soderbergh comes the action-thriller Haywire. Scheduled for a January 20, 2012 wide release, the film stars Ewan McGregor and former MMA champ Gina Carano.
Ewan McGregor goes on air with an appeal for Ł20m to save starving children
13 July 2011 By Craig Brown
Scottish actor Ewan McGregor will today make an emotional television appeal for the British public to help the millions of children affected by the humanitarian crisis in East Africa.
The star, who is an ambassador for the children’s charity Unicef, will explain that the area has been hit by war, failing harvests and the worst drought in 50 years, raising the risk of death and disease for the country’s children.
“In just one refugee camp in Kenya, there are nearly half a million people in urgent need of food, water and basic healthcare,” he is to tell viewers.
“The situation throughout the region is becoming more and more critical; the threat of starvation is very real.”
The appeal will broadcast from this evening on ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky News.
Unicef urgently needs almost Ł20 million to provide life-saving supplies to weak and starving children across East Africa in the next three months alone.
More than two million children under the age of five in Somalia and parts of Kenya and Ethiopia are acutely malnourished, including almost 500,000 children who are facing the most immediate danger of starving to death.
When Ewan McGregor appointed his chosen rendezvous for our breakfast interview – at the eleventh hour, alarmingly literally, the night before – messages were left with the manager to reserve a quiet table. We may still think of him as a barely grown-up Scottish lad, but he is a Hollywood film star, after all, whose main home these days is in Los Angeles. The reservation request turns out to be a laughable idea, since the Honest Sausage – as he jokes later, “I take you to all the high-class establishments” – is not an ironically named celebrity restaurant but a caff in Regent’s Park.
McGregor is 40 now, still boyish and lean, with pleasant but unremarkable features, apart from his eyes which really are dazzling close up. I have struggled but failed to find a phrase to do justice to them since everything ends up sounding a bit Barbara Cartland (“He fixed her with his azure eyes, which shone as though washed by starlight”), so let’s just say they are very clear and bright and make the experience of gazing on his face quite agreeable.
McGregor is not one of those actors, like, say, the late Dennis Hopper or, in a completely different way, Jeremy Irons, who always seem to be playing a version of themselves. I first remember him, at the start of his career, playing a fresh-faced civil servant in Dennis Potter’s Lipstick on Your Collar. He was offered the part six months before he completed his drama course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Then, two years later, Shallow Grave, in which he plays a disreputable journalist, followed by his breakthrough role as the junkie, Renton, in Trainspotting (also directed by Danny Boyle). The chain-smoking brass band northerner in Brassed Off!, the posh Frank Churchill in Emma, the all-singing, all-dancing romantic lead in Moulin Rouge! opposite Nicole Kidman, the out-of-his-depth hack in The Ghost, not to mention Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels… McGregor clearly does not have to worry about being typecast.
This chameleon ability to disappear into his roles may also explain why no one, in our time together, seems to think that the laid-back guy in black jeans and a black T-shirt with a large tattoo on his arm and a small, strawberry-blond poodle on his lap is, actually, you know, a really famous actor. At one point, a middle-aged American woman casually approaches us (no double take of recognition) – we are sitting outside at a round table, on a circular bench – and asks for some advice with directions. McGregor is unbelievably helpful, walks over to a map, and spends a good five minutes pointing out his recommended route.
McGregor is not at all boring, although I feared, off the screen, he might be. In his youth, he was a bit of a Britpop bad boy, hanging out with the likes of the Gallaghers, and our equivalent of the brat pack – Jude and Sadie, Jonny Lee Miller, Sean Pertwee (who together formed an anti-Hollywood film production company, Natural Nylon, though McGregor left it in 2002). In early interviews, he got sloshed with journalists and made all manner of injudicious comments. In later interviews, by which time he’d forsworn drink, he has attempted to avoid anything controversial, sometimes becoming prickly when reminded of his previous statements. In our time together, he talks in a visceral way about “the misery” of being a drunk and of the “unbearable” lifestyle that came with it.
There was also the business of those adventure travels around the world on motorbikes with his mate, Charley Boorman, which were filmed for two TV series, with accompanying DVDs and books. Grown men discovering motorbikes is the classic symptom of the male midlife crisis but, as McGregor says, he has been riding motorbikes since he was 19, and anyway he thinks that, “It’s terribly demeaning: ‘Midlife crisis.’ It suggests that what you’re doing is driven by some kind of crazed fear of your own mortality, whereas I think these big changes and decisions in life or deciding to travel are really interesting. Midlife blossoming might be a better term.”
As it turns out, McGregor is not a macho bloke at all, but a lady who lunches in disguise. “There’s nothing I like more when I’m not working than when Čve [Mavrakis, his French wife, pronounced Ev, like Kev] is having lunch with her girlfriends and I go along,” he says. “When you see women in a restaurant having lunch, they’re so into each other, you know? There’s a real connection like nothing else is going on, and it’s wonderful. Whereas men are too busy showing each other how big their d***s are.
“I’m not massively gregarious but my friends are mainly our friends… Mainly couples. I’m always much happier with women in social situations. Hanging out with men seems to encourage that kind of macho thing of putting each other down. I don’t like it and I’m not very good at it.”
One of his new films (he always seems to have at least three on the go) is Beginners, in which he plays Oliver, the son of Christopher Plummer’s Hal, who comes out as gay, aged 75, after the death of his wife. McGregor played the part of a gay man, opposite Jim Carrey, in the comedy I Love You Phillip Morris and now, it seems, the American press “are all obsessed with the fact that I’ve made films about gay issues and they’re trying to see if maybe that means that I’m gay!
“But I read the parts that are written for macho men and I just find them really embarrassing, because I don’t know any men like that. None of my friends kind of go [he swaggers and grunts], ‘F***, yeah’ with one-liners in that kind of macho, movie way. I think maybe it’s a kind of fantasy that American men try to live up to. It’s very boring and it’s also usually unattractive to women. I’m much more interested in talking to people and finding out what’s going on. I’m not really competitive with men and I don’t like it if they’re competitive with me; it makes me bristle.
“Now that I’m 40 years old and obviously incredibly wise [McGregor goes in for this gently ironic playfulness a lot], I find that it happens with me. There’s a kind of jealousy sometimes, so I’ll go somewhere else, and it’s infuriating for the person who was trying to get at you. So they end up, like at parties, following you around until you either have to say something or leave.”
McGregor and his family’s home for the past three years or so has been in Brentwood, near Santa Monica. (“I say I live there, but it’s where I return between jobs, you know! I just work too much really.”) He still has a house in St John’s Wood but is staying near Regent’s Park at the moment, because the London home is being rented out. “We’ve lived in America for a wee while [he still sounds incredibly Scottish] but we’ll be back, I’m sure. I think it’s just a temporary thing.”
McGregor was born in Perth and brought up in a small town nearby. Both his parents are teachers and his uncle is the actor Denis Lawson, who was married to the late actress Sheila Gish. His older brother Colin is a former RAF pilot, with whom he made a documentary on the Battle of Britain.
He met Čve, who is five years older than him, on the set of an episode of Kavanagh QC in 1995, where she was working as the production designer. They got married in a French village and their first daughter, Clara, was born the following year: “I was 24, quite young.” Clara is 15 now and has two nine-year-old sisters, Esther and Jamiyan; the latter was adopted by the couple in Mongolia in 2006. I wonder how this came about, presuming it all began when McGregor was there on his bike adventure, but he says, politely, “It’s the one thing I don’t ever talk about, to be honest, because I don’t like the way people talk about adoptions and celebrities. I don’t want to be involved in it. It’s very private.”
His flamboyant heart and dagger tattoo boasts the names of his wife and girls in a fancy, loopy script. I ask him if there are any more children and he pats his dog and says, “I have to put Sid’s name on there at some point.” Only after our interview, puzzlingly, do I find out that there is a fourth daughter, reportedly again adopted and apparently born in March this year.
What interests him coming back to the UK is the perceived stereotype of Los Angeles as a place of plastic surgery and fakeness: “But I find life in LA to be quite a suburban experience; all the little areas are really kind of community-minded and neighbourliness is quite strong there, which I really like. After school, you can hear the kids playing next door and it’s kind of old-fashioned and a bit like the childhood I had, except it’s L.A. not Scotland so it doesn’t rain so much.”
He is very taken, indeed, with his daughters’ school, which is liberal and a bit hippyish: “They really encourage the children to be supportive and nice to each other in a way that is so different to British schools where, you know, if you’re good at something, you get f***ing s*** on from everybody, and if you’re not very good at something, you get s*** on by everybody. So I think kids are always ducking and diving and wondering where the next attack on their little character is.
“They’ve got things on the door like you have to ask these three questions before you say something to someone: ‘Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?’ These are the three things you must think before you say something like, ‘You’re c*** at geography.’ And when my daughters get up they all really want to go to school.”
The only thing he seems to miss about London, bizarrely, is the Tube. “They’re talking about getting a train line from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica and it would just transform the whole city because, ultimately, it’s boring not being able to get around. When we’re at home in St John’s Wood, if we’re going to Tate Modern, we get a Tube straight down to Southwark. And when I was rehearsing for Othello [he was Iago], I took the Tube down there every day and I really liked it.”
McGregor has worked with an illustrious roll call of writers and directors, starting with Dennis Potter, then Danny Boyle (with whom he later, famously, fell out; more anon), Peter Greenaway, Woody Allen, Ridley Scott, Baz Luhrmann and Todd Haynes. He has huge respect for Mike Mills, the director of Beginners, whose background is directing music videos (Moby, Yoko Ono, Air) and graphic design (for Marc Jacobs, the fashion designer, as well as creating album covers for the Beastie Boys, Beck and Sonic Youth). His debut feature film was Thumbsucker in 2005, starring Tilda Swinton and Keanu Reeves, about a young boy, his mother, a doctor and, as McGregor says, “relationships”.
Beginners is also about relationships, as well as an examination of truth and lies. Christopher Plummer is a septuagenarian father who comes out after the death of his wife and explores his new, non-theoretical gay self with all the enthusiasm of an absolute beginner, clubbing, embracing gay politics and finding a boyfriend. McGregor, as his son, bereaved after the death of both his parents (the time sequences flash backward and forward), begins a love affair with a French actress, Anna (played by a real French actress, Mélanie Laurent).
I say that it feels very much like an art-house film but McGregor prefers just to call it art. It is certainly unusual: Hal’s dog, Arthur, a Jack Russell terrier, speaks to Oliver in subtitles; the screen at one point becomes a series of bright, eye-scorching colours, which feels like an art installation; scribbly drawings feature quite heavily, as well as graphic illustrations relating to the film’s themes. The scenes between the son and the father are moving and Plummer, remarkably 81 now, is particularly impressive. It’s a bit Woody Allen meets Godard but, still, it is highly original, perhaps, in part, because it is based on the real story of Mills’s father, who came out, only to die of cancer five years later.
McGregor remembers that when they came to shoot the scene in which Hal dies, everyone was upset, particularly Mills. “He says not – but I’m sure it must have been like reliving the memory of that for him,” says McGregor. “You see me crying on top of Hal’s body and then it cuts to a montage of all the things you need to do when someone dies – the brutality of it being such an extraordinarily emotional experience, and then you have to deal with the paperwork and bureaucracy and get someone to come to pick up the body and it’s just awful.”
Most excruciating, the actor says, were the role-play exercises Mills insisted on between McGregor and Laurent. The first time they met, at Mills’s home, the director sat them down and said that he wanted them to imagine they’d been a couple for three years, and then he wanted them to break up with each other. But since you are both actors, I ask, what’s the problem?
“First of all, it’s improvisation, so you have no lines and it’s enormously exposing. You’ve got no character or anything, so it really is just you and you can’t help but think, ‘She’s thinking this is how I would really break up with someone.’ It was so embarrassing, but by the end of it we were somehow locked together in something, so it was really, really clever.”
Laurent, he says, is “like a force of nature. She comes into the room and it’s like, ‘Woah!’ She’s very funny and you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. She’s kind of gloriously French and like an actress almost from another era - a wonderful whirlwind of a girl.”
But it was Cosmo, the Jack Russell terrier who plays Arthur, that he was really smitten by; if I were Sid, I’d be a bit concerned, frankly, as McGregor still seems to burn a candle for his predecessor. “We really got to know Cosmo and play with him. I really think you can feel, you know, his little character.
“I grew up with dogs but I hadn’t owned one myself in my adult life until Sid. I found him [in a shelter] on the last day of the shoot on Beginners because I was preparing to be without Cosmo, who I’d really fallen in love with, and it was really difficult…”
On the internet, there are photos of him cycling around his L.A. neighbourhood with Sid in a basket on the handlebars (as well as papped shots of him walking arm-in-arm with Laurent in Paris, with the inevitable if unfair conjectures) and he’s apparently going to invest in a motorbike sidecar for his four-legged friend.
But apart from the cycling, he’s not doing any exercise at the moment. He’s recently come off a four-month shoot in Thailand with Naomi Watts for The Impossible, about a family who were caught in the tsunami of 2004: “I spent 80 per cent of the film with my shirt off, which was probably more harrowing for the actor than anyone else, so I was being careful about eating and exercising, and as a reaction against that, as soon as I was finished, I thought, ‘F*** it.’”
Are you vain? “Well… I’m quite happy with myself, but if I am vain, it’s that I like to play with my hair. I’ve always been like that ever since I was a schoolkid, when I hated going to school if my hair was clean and fluffy.” After making Velvet Goldmine, in which he plays a rock star, McGregor took to wearing make-up: “Yeah, I used to wear quite a lot of eyeliner and stuff.” Would you have turned up to an interview with eyeliner on? “Back in the day, yeah.”
Back in the day, McGregor confessed to an interviewer that he had a poster of Madonna on his bedroom wall which he used to gaze on when he was masturbating. I remind him of this when he says that he never really liked her. “F***! When did I say that? Arrghh, old drinking days. Yeah, I did have a calendar of her when I was 13. Oh God, that whole slutty, lacy look… Fantastic.
“I met Madonna recently for a film and she was quite nice to me. Maybe she did her research and read the clippings.”
He also said that his influences were “sex, my uncle and black-and-white movies” – what did he mean by the first thing on the list? “I was obviously being interviewed by some fantastic looking young girl, but it must have been a long time ago.
“It’s terrible being interviewed because, you know, how much do we change from when we were 21? I came out of the gates really fast and I was successful and felt invincible – drinking and just, like, living the life… Trainspotting and then the mid-Nineties and Oasis and Blur and it was, ‘Fuckin’ wayhey!’ And someone asks, ‘What are your inspirations?’ And you go, f*** it, ‘Sex!’ And then you cut to being 40 years old, at the Honest Sausage, with you asking [prim voice], ‘When you said, one of your influences was sex, what did you mean?’”
We both have a good laugh at this.
So do you feel that you’ve changed a lot, in fundamental ways? After a longish pause, he says: “I think not drinking makes a huge change in your life, because I used to drink too much, and I haven’t had a drink now for more than ten years. I had a drinking problem, which is why I stopped, and now I don’t do anything [drugs or alcohol] because that’s what being sober is about. It alters everything about you, because you become much more part of the world. Drinking is a very self-centred way of being; you’re really, really inside yourself somehow and you’re not able to look out or empathise properly with people.”
Did you have blackouts? “Yeah, and I found it just unbearable. I found it was an unbearable way of life and it made me miserably unhappy.” How are you now around people who are drinking? “It’s boring – like if you’re sitting with someone who’s stoned and you’re not stoned.” Presumably you were doing coke, as well as drinking? “My mother’s going to read this interview!” Well, it’s way in your past now. “You see people coming at you in clubs or at parties and because it’s not part of my consciousness now, it takes me a little while to remember when people are kind of gnashing in your face, and then you go, ‘Oh, yeah, f***,’ because you’re in the cold light of day and sober and you think, all that is such a waste of time. It really is such a massive waste of time.”
The falling out between him and Danny Boyle goes back over a decade. Boyle offered McGregor the central role in The Beach, released in 2000, adapted from the hugely successful novel by Alex Garland – and then passed him over for Leonardo DiCaprio. I ask McGregor whether he and Boyle are friends again now. “No,” he says bluntly. Was it the way Boyle handled it or the fact that it happened at all? “You just don’t treat your friends like that. They absolutely made me think that I was playing the character in The Beach and we talked about dates and moving dates and so on, and all the while they were keeping me there just in case Leonardo pulled out – which is really nasty. And then afterwards, I just didn’t hear from Danny for years.”
It sounds pretty unforgivable. What was Boyle thinking? “When he told me, he was very conflicted and he was very upset, and I spent a lot of time making him feel better and saying, ‘No, it’s all right. I understand.’ And when I went home, I thought ‘F***! That doesn’t feel very nice.’ And my wife was furious. So I phoned up the producer, Andrew [Macdonald, who also produced Shallow Grave and Trainspotting], who I felt was part of the team. And I said, ‘Andrew, I’ve just had lunch with Danny and I don’t understand. I didn’t think that’s really what we were about. I thought we were about something else. I really thought we stood for something.’ And he went, ‘Oh come on, it was gonna happen sooner or later.’ And then I never heard from them for years. I shouldn’t really talk about this, but they wanted me to do the sequel to Trainspotting, Porno. So I got a semi-apology: ‘Feel like we didn’t handle that very well… Anyway, would you like to do Porno…?’” I take it that’s a “No”.
Our time is up, and as we walk through the park, with Sid pulling on his lead with excitement, McGregor says he feels a bit bad venting about Boyle. Earlier in the year, he was offered the chance to say a few words about his fellow Scot at an awards ceremony where Boyle was being honoured, and he accepted. He’s beginning to think that life is too short to bear grudges and it’s time, as the Californians say, to move on. The actor said some gracious things about how the director was responsible for launching his career, and Boyle was gracious back, saying he didn’t really deserve the praise. So who knows? Perhaps that Renton role may be reprised, after all.
We talk about Cheryl Cole – “She’s very pretty, isn’t she?” – and how America has rejected her, and he says stoutly: “Well, she’s better off back here then, our Cheryl, where she’s liked and loved by the British people.”
What a turn-up for the books – an actor who is curious about other people (most unusually, I had to stop him asking questions about my life), funny, kind-hearted and unpretentious. And do you know what? The venue he chose was perfect.