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Feature: Ewan McGregor

Some Guys Have All the Luck

Young Adam

Probably the most in-demand British star, Ewan McGregor has two new films released in short order, Down with Love and Young Adam – and they couldn’t be more different. He talks to us about these films and why he’s glad that Star Wars is almost over!

Trainspotting made Ewan McGregor a cutting-edge cult star; Moulin Rouge won him the hearts of musical fans, and as a lightsabre-swinging swashbuckler in the Star Wars films he has become a collectable action figure.

Now the Scottish superstar is giving us a double treat with two highly different films. Down with Love is a retro-cool homage to the Sixties Doris Day-Rock Hudson romantic comedies opposite Renée Zellweger, and Young Adam, a much darker film McGregor felt he “had to do”.

“It was set in Scotland,” he begins, “with a young Scottish director, who also wrote a brilliant script, set in the Fifties Glasgow. It’s a great book (by Alexander Trocchi), but it’s an even better script. It’s dark, erotic, brilliant.”

It is also a throwback to Ewan’s earlier films where he was happy to shed his clothes on the flimsiest of excuses. In Young Adam, he is having a controversial steamy time with Emily Mortimer and a bowl of custard.

“It’s an insane scene,” laughs McGregor gleefully. “I have sex with Tilda Swinton, and two other women as well. So many girls, so little time…”

The actor turns serious. “The sex is very cold and detached – it’s an act like any other, without emotion, which I think makes it erotic. It also means we can push the envelope during the sex scenes. It’s going to be a very uncomfortable watch for the men in the audience.”

Never one to fear filming a nude scene, McGregor says he enjoys acting in the buff because “there is something incredibly powerful about it, like swimming naked. Usually you’d get arrested for that sort of thing, but I get paid.”

The first time McGregor shed his clothes for his work was for Scarlet and Black and the young actor learnt a valuable lesson: never let a stand-in do the nude scene for you. “There was a scene when I was going to be caught in bed by my lover’s husband. I had to launch myself off this balcony, climb down ladders and run across a garden naked while someone shot at me with a musket. But they were worried I’d break an ankle or something and they got this not-very-well-endowed stuntman who came down the ladder and fell on his back. I thought, I’m not going to let that happen again!”

Ewan showed all that he’s got in some wild sex scenes in both Pillow Box and Velvet Goldmine, but his wife, Eve Mavrakis, takes it all in her stride.

“It’s part of the job and she’s a cracker,” tells Ewan. “You can justify it in that sense, but ultimately she is going to watch me pretend to have sex with somebody on screen. And no matter how much you rationalize it, that’s tough on her. It needs to be talked about.”

by Roald Rynning

Get the full interview when you buy
Film Review (Oct)

Photo © Sony Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Film Review (Oct), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Oct)
#636, October 2003
ships from Sep 11 2003
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