Could Ewan McGregor Finally Score First Oscar Nomination for 'The Impossible'? (Video)
It's hard to think of many movie stars who have had the sort of career that Ewan McGregor has had -- long, prolific, and consistently impressive -- but have not received an Oscar nomination. And yet the dashing 41-year-old Scotsman, who has been acting on film for 18 years, is still in search of his first.
McGregor has a credit list that includes Danny Boyle's Trainspotting (1996), Mark Herman's Little Voice (1998), Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down (2001), Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! (2001), Tim Burton's Big Fish (2003), Chris Noonan's Miss Potter (2006), Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream (2007), Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's I Love You Phillip Morris (2009), Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer (2010), and Mike Mills' Beginners (2011), not to mention three of George Lucas' Star Wars films (1999, 2002, 2005).
He is widely respected within the community of actors, in no small part because he has a proven track record of being a great scene partner. Indeed, though he has never been recognized by the Academy, the Academy has recognized three people -- Brenda Blethyn (Little Voice), Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge!) and Christopher Plummer (Beginners) -- for their work opposite him. That's quite a figure.
And he is widely-regarded as one of Hollywood's truly good guys. He's been married to the same woman, French production designer Eve Mavrakis, since 1995, before he was really a "name." He is the proud father of four daughters, who range in age from 16 to two. And he's not a diva or someone who takes his good fortune for granted -- he lives quietly and modestly in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles and says that he has not had a drink since the turn of the century.
Now, for his widely-heralded work in Juan Antonio Bayona's tearjerker The Impossible -- a film based on the true story of a family that was vacationing in Thailand when the 2004 tsunami tore them apart, in which he plays a loving and tenacious husband and, for the first time on screen, a father (he has four daughters in real life) -- this great leading man may finally get his due... ironically enough, in the best supporting actor category.
The film's distributor, Summit Entertainment, has decided to push 16-year-old Tom Holland and Oscar nominee Naomi Watts, who have more screen time in the film, as the leads. And the truth is that this is good news for McGregor, who faces much less competition in the supporting category than he would have in lead.
I recently sat down with McGregor in New York for a long and wide-ranging conversation about his life and career. You can watch the full video at the top of this post or read highlights from it below.
The Hollywood Reporter: Early in your career you made three acclaimed films with director Danny Boyle: Shallow Grave (1994), Trainspotting (1996) and A Life Less Ordinary (1997). Why do you think you and Boyle brought out some of the best in each other?
Ewan McGregor: It’s something I don’t know that you can really explain. There was a very strong connection that I felt about Danny. He was my first movie director. Shallow Grave was my first film and his first film, and when people saw it in Britain that was a real turning point. People went, ‘Wow, okay, this is new and different.’ And it was. It was clever, and it looked amazing, and it made a mark, in that respect. All through that period to A Life Less Ordinary, that was who I was: I was Danny Boyle’s actor. And I agree with you, I think he got the best out of me. And it ended sadly. It’s something that came to a close after A Life Less Ordinary and it’s never returned, and that’s a great shame. I’ve always missed what we might have gone on to do.
THR: It’s been 15 years, but you’re both still very active. Is there a chance you’ll work together again?
McGregor: I’ve got no idea.
THR: Would you like to?
McGregor: I’d love to. Yeah.
THR: Your level of fame must have shot to a whole new level when you signed on to do Star Wars. Did you have any reservations about assuming the iconic role of Obi-Wan Kenobi?
McGregor: The big decision about Star Wars for me—and it was something that I really considered properly—was what kind of actor I was and what I felt I stood for, which was a real sort of independence. All my work had had quite a lot of edge in it, in one way or another. The worry about a film of that scale is that you don’t survive it, in a way. You don’t survive the hype; you become typecast. Harrison Ford did all right after the Star Wars films, though he was sort of alone. And so you have to consider that. You know, ‘Am I selling out?’ I phoned Danny and spoke to my uncle [role model/mentor Dennis Lawson], who told me, ‘Don’t it. You’re crazy.’ He said, ‘If you want a career after you’re 30, don’t do it.’ And I disregarded his advice in the end because the nearer I got to it the more I wanted to do it.