Ewan McGregor Dishes on His Motivation to Direct ‘American Pastoral’: ‘Honestly, It Was My Wife’

Maria Cavassuto
Variety

At the Samuel Goldwyn Theater Thursday, Ewan McGregor revealed that it took 20 years for him to find the perfect vehicle to make his directorial debut with “American Pastoral.” Although he was attached as Seymour “Swede” Levov in the film for many years, he said that the idea of directing the feature wasn’t really a concrete thought until his wife gave him a much-needed nudge.

“Honestly, it [was] my wife, Eve. When we lost the director in late 2014, she said I should do it. I had been looking to director for 20 years and it was never the right opportunity but this one just came together. I spent a day with the script, really being honest about playing the role and having the bigger picture in my head. I suggested myself to the Lakeshore producers and after giving them that big picture, they shortly after let me direct it,” McGregor said.

“It was sort of a series of happy coincidences. I was attached to act in it for a number of years. And I never thought about directing because there was always someone else attached to it or it was director-less,” he said.

McGregor had an impressive cast to work with on the adaptation of Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize winning adaptation, including Dakota Fanning, who felt thankful to be part of his directorial debut.

“He’s just a lovely person to be around. Getting to know him was a wonderful part of my life and getting to be part of his first time directing, I think it’s something he’ll remember and I’m so honored to be a part of that,” she said.

For Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Connelly, working with McGregor was also a great match that made her tough role much easier to tackle.

“He’s very confident as a director and he really created a very nice environment for everyone to collaborate in,” she said.

Connelly is no stranger to heavy emotional roles, but the versatile actress revealed that the role of Levov’s wife, Dawn, was challenging.

“The movie takes place over a number of years so it gave me a lot to think about,” she said. “I was portraying her as a young woman of about 20 [years old] until about her mid 40s and beyond, so that was part of what made it exciting. I like working on things that challenge me and I like playing characters whose circumstances are much different than my own and who act in ways different than maybe I would,” she said.

“American Pastoral” bows Oct. 21.

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