Ewan McGregor: “When I prepare a character, I am a bundle of nerves and at the same time a self-confident guy, but before shooting I forget the latter”

As if he understood your position.

“My position, but also the vibe of being the father of someone who has problems. It’s a fucking difficult and horrible situation. You are afraid of what might happen. You are capable of anything to avoid losing them.”

The film was shot with a small crew. He loved participating in such a humble production, the relationship between himself and his scene partner. “We play father and daughter,” he adds. “It is the reflection of us, of our history. I was impressed by her work as an actress. It has been an incredible experience acting with her”.

Do you see things about her in her facet as an actress that you recognize in yourself as an actor? “Yes, because she has allowed herself to be herself. We didn’t talk much about the scenes before we did them. I like to do it like this. I’m not interested in talking about things before doing them.”

Suddenly, I see a vulnerable McGregor. “When a couple divorces, it is as if a bomb exploded in the family. In the lives of my children, ”he acknowledges. “Healing that is a constant process.”

It’s not easy for him to talk about any of this. He doesn’t usually do it. No matter how much time he spends in front of the cameras, he is a discreet person who does not like to attract attention.. I remember something Nanjiani told me about his work with McGregor. “When the cameras aren’t rolling, Ewan is himself. I was very surprised at one point when he had to do a very emotional scene, and between takes he chatted with people. I said, ‘Do you need to be alone?’ And he was like: ‘Nope’. There are actors who need to concentrate. He tricks you.”

When I came up with this article, I wanted to know what it’s like to look back over dozens of your roles, trying to isolate that motorcycle-like din that a movie star’s career can be. How does it feel to try to imagine what will come next? McGregor enters his third decade as an artist. He is aware that he is getting older, that they no longer put certain projects on the table.

The lockdown changed his perspective. It had been decades since he had spent seven or eight months in the same place. “I just want to be with mine. I don’t want to go to Romania for four months. If I have to, maybe I will, but I’m doing everything I can to make sure it doesn’t happen,” he explains. “Before, I felt like a nomad. My children were my priority, but I was away from home a lot.”

McGregor has made California his home. He misses Scotland, being close to his family, but his life right now is in Los Angeles. We walk out of the bar and into a Southern California spring day: cloudless sky, not too hot.

Before we leave, I ask McGregor if he has any idea where his career will go in the next few years. In my experience, middle age is synonymous with self-acceptance,
it makes you care less what people think, but it also opens you up to new interests and new ideas. “I don’t know,” she notes. “I really want to find out.” She thinks for a bit. “I’m going to quote a name: I remember meeting Terry Gilliam…” She sent him a script. For more than 20 years, Gilliam wanted to make a version of the film, which in 2018 became The man who killed Don Quixote. “He asks me: ‘What the hell have you been doing all this time? You have spoiled everything. what happened to the uncle Trainspotting? Where has he been?!’ It was pretty edge. It’s rare for someone to challenge you like that. But he got me thinking.” As if she had taken note of the criticism. The work you do now is perhaps freer, even more cathartic..

“Like when you asked me about Fargo Y Halston. They are much more complex characters, and I really enjoy them. But I was also very excited about that project with Clara”, confesses McGregor. “It was totally me.”

This article originally belongs to issue 286 of GQ.

Production credits:

Cinematography: Ryan Pfluger
Styling: Michael Darlington
Hair and makeup: Sussy Campos
Set design: James Rene
Production: Jonathan Bossle at Tightrope Production
Tailoring: Yelena Travinka

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