“I’m fiercely proud to be Scottish.”– Ewan McGregor
Ewan Gordon McGregor was born on this day in Perth, Scotland, United Kingdom in 1971. He is 42.
His parents are both educators. His mother, Carole, was a teacher and school administrator, and his father, Jim, was a phys. ed teacher. McGregor has an older brother, Colin, who is in the Royal Air Force.
At age 16, he left Crieff and Morrison Academy to join the Perth Repertory Theatre. His parents encouraged him to leave school and pursue his acting goals rather than be unhappy. McGregor studied drama for a year at Kirkcaldly in Fife, then enrolled at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama for a three-year course. [IMDb]
He left Guildhall School early to take a major role in Lipstick on Your Collar (1993).
He got international attention in 1996. as Mark Renton, the heroin addicted anti-hero in Danny Boyle’s Transpotting. He won a BAFTA Scotland award for Best Actor for his performance. He took on two sharply different roles the same year. He was charming, rich, glib, and not (as far as I know) a drug addict as Frank Churchill in an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma opposite Gwyneth Paltrow. And he played the romantic lead in Brassed Off. [Put both Emma and Brassed Off in your queue. Both are terrific. Transpotting was too gritty for me. As big of a fan as I am of McGregor, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, and Kelly Macdonald, I can’t say that I like the movie. It did, however, teach me that I categorically do NOT want to EVER try heroin– so there’s that, I guess.]
McGregor was Obi-Wan Kenobi — a role originated by Sir Alec Guinness — in the first of the Star Wars prequels, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace , in 1999. (He reprised the role twice in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) It was a real labor of love for McGregor who adored the Star Wars films growing up. He watched countless Guinness films in preparation for the role so he could get the screen legend’s pacing and accent down. And when it came time to film the light saber scenes …”he kept imitating the noise … during his fights. George Lucas explained many times that this would be added in by the special effects people later on. Ewan said “I keep getting carried away.”.” [IMDb]
2001 was another big year for McGregor with two major motion pictures, the fantasy musical Moulin Rouge and gripping war story Black Hawk Down coming in short order.
He was terrific in Big Fish as the young protagonist, Edward Bloom.
I also liked him in The Island, Miss Potter, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Beginners, and especially Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
But with 60+ movies and TV appearances I’ve only scratched the surface of Mr. McGregor’s film garden. I’ll need to do more research.
In 2004 he and best mate Charley Boorman travelled through Europe, Asia and North America on motorcycles in the TV documentary Long Way Round. The 19,000 trek helped bring attention to UNICEF projects around the world. In 2006 They did a similar trip/ documentary called Long Way Down, this time traveling from Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa.
New to DVD release (it was in limited theatrical release late last year) is The Impossible, a drama about the 2004 tsunami.
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