Ewan McGregor


An empty village pub in Galway – one of seven available to the three thousand inhabitants and us. As a doormat hung on the wall confirms it’s ‘lovely weather for ducks’ so Ewan McGregor and I are stuck inside playing pool.

Just when I had come to the conclusion that Ewan McGregor’s life couldn’t get any better – that his luck (if you can call it luck) couldn’t get any luckier – I can only stand and watch as the black ball he has just mishit, and missed, meanders round the table, kisses into the last stripe, and plops gently into its designated pocket. Game to Ewan McGregor: the man who can do no wrong.

He flashes one of those characteristically cocky, charismatic, grins, full of mischief and ease, finishes his Guinness, and saunters to the bar, accepting such fortune as his due.

I should have known. In the five years since he landed his first role (in Channel 4’s not particularly polished 1992 Dennis Potter series, ‘Lipstick On Your Collar’), Ewan McGregor has been on some kind of roll. Five years ago he was still at drama school.

He followed Lipstick with assured, eye-grabbing leads in ‘Shallow Grave’, ‘Blue Juice’, and the BBC costume drama, ‘Scarlet & Black’ before ‘Trainspotting’ ensured his star went inter-galactic.

He has become the only young British star who can open a film in this country, having spent only four months on the dole and with only three bit parts: in Potter’s ‘Karaoke’, Bill Forsyth’s ‘Being Human’, and ‘Kavanagh QC’ and even those were quality, popular, productions.

Anyone who thought Ewan McGregor couldn’t get any hipper or bigger than ‘Trainspotting’ under-estimated him. He has followed an extended starring role in ‘E.R.’ (for which he was nominated for an Emmy) with ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, the new film from the ‘Trainspotting’ team, and now, knocking ‘Trainspotting’ into a comparatively minor-looking cocked hat, the second lead in ‘Star Wars.’ The equivalent of potting the all your colours and the black from the break…

‘Trainspotting’ was that rare thing: a genuine phenomenon that went from commenting on the zeitgeist to shaping it. It launched McGregor on such a colossal wave of controversy, publicity, and popularity that he has been billed as “Britain’s next big superstar” or “the British Brad Pitt” in everywhere from The Face to the Daily Telegraph.

But rather than burdening him with too much expectation or fatally damaging the young star’s chances of making the transition from promising lead to genuine movie-star, Ewan McGregor has simply gone from strength to strength, making the mythical, supposedly elusive, process of star-making look straightforward.

After ‘Trainspotting’, he added range to his roster without diminishing either the quality of the work or his individual popularity.

He did an art-house movie (Peter Greenaway’s ‘The Pillow Book’), a successful literary drama/period piece (Gwynneth Paltrow’s ‘Emma’), a gritty British comedy (‘Brassed Off’) and a modern Hollywood thriller (‘Nightwatch’ with Nick Nolte and Rosanna Arquette). This year, his career hasn’t exactly gone into a lull.

“No,” he laughs. “I keep saying I’m not going to work for two months and then someone says, ‘what about this ?’ and I just go, ‘Oh, OK.”

Starring roles in ‘The Serpents Kiss’ (described as “a sensual period thriller”) and Todd Haynes’s ‘Velvet Goldmine’ (playing a Lou Reed/Iggy pop character during London’s 70s glam-rock scene) are already in the can and next month sees the release of ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, “a madcap comedy” by the ‘Shallow Grave’/ ‘Trainspotting’ team of producer Andrew McDonald, scriptwriter John Hodge, and director Danny Boyle.

He has also agreed to play the leads in biopics of James Joyce (“a really dirty, sexy, script” with the more mundane title of ‘Nora’), Nick Leeson (in ‘Rogue Trader’) and remains the favoured name to play John Lennon in Yoko Ono’s mooted Beatles movie.

Then there’s the piddling matter of ‘Star Wars.’ Ewan McGregor will be playing the young Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) in George Lucas’s trilogy of prequels (all three of them). Like I said, some kind of roll.

Plus – if we really want to torment ourselves – there is plenty more evidence to suggest McGregor really does have everything going for him. 

He frequently tops magazine polls on things like The 100 Most Creative People in Entertainment (Entertainment Weekly), or Britain’s Most Fashionable/Fanciable celebrity (you name it). 

At the tender age of 26, a lucky Aries, he has already racked up a formidable number of love scenes with beautiful co-stars from ‘Lipstick on Your Collar’s Louise Germaine to ‘Trainspotting’s Kelly MacDonald, making out with Vivian Wu, Greta Scacchi, Tara Fitzgerald and Catherine Zeta Jones along the way.

When we first met, just before filming started on ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, he struggled to recall the name of his latest love interest, fumbling through “Carmen Somebody” and “Caron Something-Or-Other” before arriving at Cameron Diaz, Hollywood’s hottest starlet.

“Er yes,” he grins, with his typical brand of shyness tinged with cheek. “I’ve been fortunate to work with some very talented actresses !”

He has done so many nude scenes (especially in ‘The Pillow Book’) that for a while it looked as if he was on some sort of mission to becoming the Harvey Keitel of his generation – so much so that one magazine titled a profile of him “I do have a very large penis.”

It really does look as if Ewan McGregor will become the first young British movie star for years. Lads like him, ladies like him (from teenager girls to the little old ladies in the snug), and the camera absolutely loves him. Above all, he has the talent to match the looks, the cult kudos and cool to complement huge commercial appeal.

All of which sets him apart from other British candidates over the years. For all their success in the States, Tim Roth and Gary Oldman were too grubby and intense to make the grade to playing parts like the hero of a film as big as ‘Star Wars.’

Good actors like David Thewlis, Kenneth Branagh, Jeremy Irons or Daniel Day-Lewis never had a following as young or a hip as the street appeal that ‘Trainspotting’ has given McGregor. Candidates like Rupert Everett, Rupert Graves or Julian Sands never had the actual ability (the part that everybody forgets about).

Watching him flick through the options on the jukebox, it occurs to me I should ask him his lottery numbers. (He has in fact placed a bet at the bar on which square of a grid will receive Daisy the Cow’s first cowpat.)

As he puts on a song, I try not to expect anything too significant or revealing. The last song he put on was ‘Oh-oh Black Betty/bamba-lam’. If he had any decency, he’d just come clean and select something like Joe Walsh’s Life’s Been Good To Me So far or Kylie’s I Should Be So Lucky (even though luck does not really come into it). Never one to disappoint though, sure enough the jukebox clicks on to his next choice. And to the strains of Bob Marley’s Don’t Worry Bout A Thing, Ewan McGregor beams and carries on playing.


SEVERAL months later, the scale and significance of his role in ‘Star Wars’ is finally sinking in.

Having always seemed refreshingly relaxed, naturally genial and good-humoured, for the first time he seems tense, more put-upon and so consummately professional about the interview he is in danger of becoming anodyne.

He’s acknowledged this can happen before, remarking that after doing months of publicity for ‘Trainspotting’ and hundreds and hundreds of interviews, “you find a story that was once just so-so, suddenly becomes incredibly fucking interesting and funny.”

Whereas a year ago, he was still claiming: “I’ve no idea what ‘cracking Hollywood’ means”, presumably the combination of ‘Star Wars’, ‘E.R.’, and Cameron Diaz has given him a pretty good idea. The last time I saw him, after the day’s filming was finishing, the producers were putting him a helicopter to go and see Oasis.

Having got this far still managing to maintain some sense of being an ‘ordinary’, down-to-earth young man with everything going his way, he now gives you a sense that he is beginning to wonder if his life will have many ordinary moments left.

Playing pool in Galway, McGregor was still deriding, with scoffing Scottish sarcasm, the idea of being part of “the Groucho Club scene”, and, a year on, here he is doing interviews there, though admittedly not as a member. When I refer teasingly to “the real Ewan McGregor”, he counters darkly with reference to “the magazine me.” Whereas growing up, he says he never read magazines, he “quite likes them now cos you occasionally see your mates in them.”

These days, even McGregor’s most ordinary-looking moments (playing pool, drinking Guinness, loitering round Soho) are simply fodder for photo shoots. In pictures of McGregor where he is lying around his room looking coolly scruffy and fashionable, the clothes are invariably provided by a stylist.

He admits he has recently, for the first time, felt anxious about travelling on the tube. The notion that someone might shout ‘It’s Ewan McGregor !’ and mayhem ensuing, is enough to make him think maybe it would be simpler to just get a cab.

“I would certainly think about that yeah,” he ponders rather forlornly, as if he hadn’t realised how far along that line (an inescapable product of celebrity) he has come.

Even if he hasn’t really changed, the perception is that he has.

When the news about ‘Star Wars’ was announced, one half-wit hack who was denied an interview didn’t let the fact that he hadn’t actually met him deter him from attributing the scale of McGregor’s success to the fact he was “addicted to fame.”

“No, I’m not ! ” he scoffs, affronted. “Fuck off. That’s so shite.”

In fact, his luvvie side still insists “all that interests me is making good movies. Bigger directors are not necessarily better directors. I want to do the sort of movies I’ve been doing over here.”

(He has his own production company, along with Jonny Lee Miller and Jude Law, and they are intending to do ‘The Hellfire Club’ together.)

He is bewildered, and actually outraged, by the number of times he has been branded in the press as a “ligger” or some sort of product of Brit Pop and is duly dismayed to learn one friend of mine dismiss him as being “too fashionable”  – a victim of endless profiles in I-D, The Face, or Arena, posing in other people’s clothes – the latest of which, he spits, “makes me look like a cunt.”

Of course with Danny Boyle’s $12million ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ still to come, not to mention S**r W**s, McGregor’s fame is set to escalate beyond all recognition.

He has been watching the three ‘Star Wars’ films and studying Alec Guinness (“trying to get that down, get the voice right”), so intently he doesn’t think he can watch them anymore.

While Hollywood was probably teeming with actors and agents making a play for a part in Star Wars, McGregor simply met the casting agent, did a screen-test and met George Lucas, which in itself must have been pretty intimidating.

“George Lucas was very relaxed, very calm. He didn’t make it a big deal – it probably wasn’t a big deal to him. I did three scenes with Liam Neeson. That was really scary !” he beams with real enthusiasm, the sort of eager glee that makes him suddenly seem incredibly young.

“I was more nervous for that than I have been for a long time. Sitting there feeling really scared again. It was great.”

He went home thinking he couldn’t have done any more. The result came in a call from his agent. But ‘Star Wars’ is so swathed in secrecy though that he couldn’t tell anyone he’d got the lead in ‘Star Wars’ apart from his mum and dad and his wife.

“I was on the set of ‘Velvet Goldmine’, my first day’s filming. Walking round going like this (a Bobby Ball-like ball of excitement, biting his fist). God knows what everyone thought I was so happy about. The best thing, the really weird thing will be eventually seeing it, you know, once all the effects have been added in, cos we won’t have seen any of that. It’ll be like seeing yourself in a dream or something.”


THE ‘Star Wars’ screen-test is probably not the most important audition Ewan McGregor has ever done.

After three years at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama, he describes the Agents Evening, where students perform a song and dance number, a two-hander, and a short solo piece in front of an audience comprising almost entirely of agents and casting directors, as “a fucking nightmare ! Just such a huge opportunity, totally terrifying.”

Having performed a scene from ‘Withnail & I’ as his two-hander (“the sink scene”), McGregor’s solo piece – something he’d written himself “about a legless oil rig worker in Aberdeen” – was a disaster.

Having wheeled himself on in a wheelchair, halfway through, he dried.

“I was sitting there, frantically rubbing my stumps, trying to remember my line. It was a really dark speech. The whole thing had one moment of light relief in it, one little joke, and that’s what I missed.”

It sounds as if it’s still bugging him (a glitch in the greatest roll in acting history) but the next day the offers came piling in.

Ironically, the only thing to ever dent his confidence about acting was three years at drama school, which, rather than teach him not to be self-conscious, had begun to make him feel it.

“Luckily, I managed to get through that on my own.”

Up until then he had “never doubted myself”, ever since the age of 9, when he started to idolise his uncle, ‘Local Hero’ actor Denis Lawson.

“It didn’t even enter my head that it wouldn’t work out.”

Fortunately, his parents supported him, even agreeing to let him leave school at 16. He got a job within a week of leaving school – at a repertory theatre in Perth, moving scenery. His first professional acting was “running around wearing a turban” as an Indian extra in ‘A Passage To India.’

“I didn’t hate school,” he remonstrates. “I just didn’t get it. I just remember not liking many of the teachers. They said I had attitude problems.”

As his brother was Head Boy and his father taught PE, every time he got into trouble “my parents would hear about it, which didn’t seem fair.”

Were you popular ?
“I spent a lot of time trying to be. I wanted to be in every group, involved in every clique.”

He grew up in Crieff, in Perth, and had an improbably old-fashioned kind of boy’s adventure childhood, spending his time “kicking around in the countryside, firing catapults and stuff, riding horses every weekend.”

Never fond of sport, he would spend Saturday afternoons lying on the carpet in front of the TV watching black and white movies – which might account for the old-fashioned, romantic qualities he has brought to most of his roles, most notably ‘Emma’, ‘Scarlett & Black’, and now ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, where he plays the sweet naive to Cameron Diaz’s darker other half in a film that is basically designed as a vehicle for both of them, despite its pretensions to parodying vehicle films in some way.

Ewan remembers futilely counting the days to the screening of the first episode of ‘Lipstick On Your Collar’, waiting for his life to change. Now of course, it’s changed for good, thanks to Renton.

Although initially each of the Trainspotters had their own posters, from the book of the screenplay to the cover of the video or the soundtrack, gradually Ewan’s shivering frame became plastered across the nation’s consciousness until ‘Trainspotting’ became Renton’s story and Ewan McGregor’s film.

The ‘Trainspotting’ phenomenon so permeated British culture that even the Virgin Airways flight information film now features a voice-over by Ewan McGregor, sounding unnervingly like Renton.

It’s a weird experience: taking off, getting safety advice from a bitter junkie like Renton. 

“Aye, it’s true. They wanted me to be the cheeky cocky guy. There’s one bit about not smoking which sort of implies you might be smoking something other than cigarettes.”

He goes into Renton’s sneering cynicism.

“ ‘Put out all ‘cigarettes’. Haha.”

Part of how he has remained so likeable and unfazed by the impact and fame ‘Trainspotting’ created for him probably comes from the fact he says “I was unaware of a lot of it.”

A lot of the hype and hysteria passed him by. He was in the States when ‘Trainspotting’ mania hit the U.K. and was filming in Ireland when it was unleashed in the States. But he says that, given the way the novel had taken off beforehand, its success never surprised him anyway. 

“I was passionate about it from the beginning. Couldn’t stop thinking about it.”

Now that it’s finally behind him, there are a few things we can confirm for good.

The three ‘Trainspotting’ questions he was asked most were:

1. Did he use heroin for the part ?

Answer: No. Ewan doesn’t go in for method/ methadone acting, although he did lose 30lbs for the role.

2. Did you really have to dive down a toilet ?

Answer: what do you think ?

3. What does he think about the legalisation of drugs ?

Answer: “My answer is: I don’t know but I don’t imagine it’s a terribly good idea.”

What does he think would Renton be doing now?

“Well in the novel he goes to Amsterdam selling postcards. There’s bit of him in a short story at the beginning of ‘Acid House’ and one at the end of ‘A Smart Cunt’ I think. I don’t imagine he goes to Amsterdam and cleans up. I don’t think he does stop taking smack, no. It’s not that optimistic.”

He confirms that some of the funniest lines were cut from the screenplay because “for whatever reason good or bad, from the beginning they were intent on making it exactly 90 minutes long.”

His favourite moment in the whole film is “the shot of Swanee sitting on the kerbside, just rocking back and forward, as the taxi pulls up. I think that’s beautiful, I don’t know why.”

Although he obviously loved every minute of it, he says the truth is he would never have hung out with them, even Renton. Especially Renton.

“I quite like him. But I don’t like the fact that he’s given up. On everything. The press release said something like ‘Mark Renton: a hero of our times’. I never thought that,” he argues, again sounding principled and strangely aggrieved. “He doesn’t give a shit about anyone.”

It’s a credit to the flair and restraint of his performance in ‘Trainspotting’ that people still have difficulty in determining Renton was only a part, although the street cred has definitely not done him any harm. Bad boy behaviour has never been Ewan McGregor’s style.

As a youth, he says, he never got into trouble. (His idea of ‘trouble’ is that he has “dented some rental cars”). He has never been arrested (“I think I’d be terrified to be arrested”), and never experimented with drugs.

“I was never hard enough to do anything criminal and there were never any drugs to experiment with. My parents must have lived to be 60 and never even seen them.”

He dismisses the idea of taking drugs to shock his parents with the simple and rather sweet explanation “I liked them too much to do that.”

There is something unfashionably old-fashioned about Ewan McGregor and something pleasingly cavalier about the way he is so unlike the way a hip young actor should be.

Realising that part of his commensurate charm is that even in the hell that is Cannes or the la-la land of LA, rather than play it cool or moan about the work load or artificiality of it all, Ewan McGregor has the temerity to enjoy every minute of it, you also realise how unusual is to find this these days. You wonder when the gleam and zest in his bright eyes ever dips; whether he ever becomes grouchy or an absolute pain the arse. 

In fact, Ewan McGregor is far too nice and friendly, to have become a fashionable young movie star brought to fame in swinging Brit Pop London. No drugs, no models, no nightclubs. Not even a member of that luvvies ego-trap, Groucho Club. He is in fact The Wrong Person for the job. This is one of the best things about him.

His haircut for example is invariably Almost Awful – a sort of Denis Law/Rod Stewart job (something to do with being Scottish ?), one that invariably needs copious amounts of styling before people like The Face consider him presentable. Part of his boyishness stems from retaining the same spiky Billy Idol job he had at school.

“Yeah I know,” he beams. “I’m not trendy at all. Most of my nice clothes, I’ve got from films I’ve been in. It’s quite frightening sometimes, the idea of the whole thing, being presented as something that you’re not.”

He has “never really been into clubs”, and has even started playing golf – “moving into my Sean Connery stage a bit early.” His only vice, apart from smoking and drinking copiously, is “razzing about London on an old 1974 Moto Guzzi.”

His negligible amount of spare time is spent with his wife “Ev” (a French production designer that he met working on Kavanagh QC) and their baby, Clara.

In early publicity for ‘Shallow Grave’, he admitted he’d struggled to find ways of feeling comfortable about being so aggressive and unpleasant and at times he is so nice it borders on the naive.

When our driver Stevie innocently asks why ‘Trainspotting’ is called ‘Trainspotting’, Ewan McGregor runs through it all again as if he doesn’t realise how annoying this should be after what must be as thousand times, laughing about how people would come up to them while they were filming in the housing schemes around Glasgow and respond to the title with “well you’ll no’ find many trains around here.”

Part of the preparations for ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ involved going out to gun-ranges learning to shoot – the first time he’d even ever held a gun (“a wee snub-nosed .45”).

Whereas other young actors might go on about how cool this was, when he talks about the gun shop he instantly says “it was fucken terrifying ! It was huge, like a supermarket ! Just full of things to kill people ! I mean why is it such a major issue in America, the right to have a gun ? The right to kill.”

Originally mooted as the ‘Trainspotting’ team’s unconventional take on the mainstream American romantic comedy-road movie, the most unconventional thing about it, coming from John Hodge and Danny Boyle, is how conventional it is. Even allowing for the duo’s darker trademarks (there’s a suitcase full of money – “more than one” – a grave in forest and lots of bleeding), it is, as he says, “really, really sweet. Incredibly romantic.”

McGregor, a janitor dreaming “of something less ordinary”, ends up rather haplessly kidnapping Diaz, bungling a bank heist, and being pursued by two good cop/bad cop angels played by Holly Hunter and Get Shorty’s Delroy Lindo with the toughest assignment of their careers: to make Diaz and McGregor fall in love.

Intended as a sort of modern Frank Capra version of ‘Wings of Desire’, it seems the ‘Trainspotting’ trio have finally come undone, the victims of style over substance and not being as dark and as clever as they think they are.

Andrew MacDonald’s somewhat apologetic introduction at the first-ever screening of the film last month, when he urged us to “try and look at it as just another Channel 4 film starring Ewan McGregor”, suggested they can tell that somehow the sharp surrealism of the script just isn’t happening on the screen. There isn’t the necessary zest or chemistry to the slapstick and, after a promising start ‘Life…’ actually becomes pretty ponderous. It’s not as dark or as clever as it thinks it is.

For his own part, McGregor’s sweet nature shines through in a movie for almost the first time, which given the mass identification between him and Renton will probably come as a relief to both him and George Lucas.

Even after ‘Shallow Grave’, where again he played the bitter cynic, agents or casting directors would underline that a role they were considering him for wasn’t in Scottish and was “not the same as the one I played in ‘Shallow Grave’ and was that OK with me. Of course it fucking is, that’s what I do.”

Watching him in ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, you can’t help but notice that although he seems natural in the part, he is always instantly recognisable, convincing as the character but at all times somehow still himself. Maybe this is what Hollywood sees in him. Danny Boyle has identified this as the knack that stars like Sean Connery or Michael Caine have/had.

“He brings the character to him,” Boyle said. ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ is another film in which “he lets the film happen around him. A lot of this film happens TO him and the big decisions are made by characters around him. A lot of actors wouldn’t be happy with that.”

This of course, is what happened in ‘Trainspotting.’

While everyone around him was acting their socks off, McGregor/Renton is the calm heart in the middle of it all. When they were making ‘Trainspotting’, after a couple of week shooting, McGregor was worried he wasn’t doing anything.

“A lot of the time there’s not much to do in a lot of scenes except watch.”

He even talked to Danny Boyle about it.

“He just said, ‘I think that’s just the way it’s got to be’ and he was right. I panicked. The hardest thing about acting is just to go _________________ (nothing/blank), I think Danny knows that.

Having a nervous breakdown, screaming and shouting is the easiest part. Actors fucking love doing all that, never happier than when they’re crying their eyes out. I always remember during ‘Shallow Grave’, any time anyone was doing a big bit, a big emotional bit, Danny would just go ‘OK, let’s move on’. If you’d just been sitting there, he’d come and encourage you, say ‘well done’ and everything.”

Michael Caine himself would proud of the comment he makes about playing a reporter on a local paper in ‘Shallow Grave’: “basically if you’ve got a note-pad and pen, you can be a journalist.”

Anyway, he says, Hollywood can think what it likes. He has no intention of moving there.

“I love London. If I’m ever there ! I’ve just bought a house in St. Johns Wood, which one day I might actually move into. I’ve got an agent over in LA so I get scripts from there.”

Though he still naive/eager enough to find it thrilling working with Nick Nolte or shaking Dennis Hopper’s hand at a party, Hollywood just doesn’t agree with him.

He is still not frightened of being ridiculously indiscreet about some of Hollywood’s major players – most notably Jim Carrey

(“I cannot look at him”) and James Cameron, famously describing in the LA Times the concept of a $200 million movie, like Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ fiasco as “sick, a disgrace. Anyone who’s involved with that kind of film-making should be ashamed as themselves.” (‘Star Wars’, he maintains, laughing, is different.)

“So much of Hollywood is just bullshit. So insincere,” he gasps with rather touching incredulity. When ‘Shallow Grave’ appeared at Sundance, they were whisked around LA for a week, doing press, and meeting people from the studios.

“They had no idea who I was and I didn’t know any of them,” he scoffs, “Inevitably, they tell you how fantastic you are and how much they love your work, even though you know they’ve never seen you in anything !”

He must know he has more of it to come, but nothing really seems to get in his way. Even if you push him into finding something negative about the sort of life he has been propelling into or worth worrying about, the only thing he comes up with – what to do about the effect his work and the moving around will have on the baby, what happens when she’s older and going to school – he talks about it as a pretty positive problem because it’s about his baby.

The problem of remaining ordinary, of keeping something normal to Ewan McGregor’s life when everything is going his way doesn’t worry him, although he sometimes worries that something absolutely awful is waiting to happen to him round the corner.

He takes his normal life, his baby and his wife, with him. When he had grown tired of moving round and “just wanted to be home, just wanted to be ordinary”, he stopped and went home.

At first it seems his confidence is misplaced. After all, as soon as he had done this, revived his ordinary life, he promptly signed up for ‘Star Wars’, one film you can guarantee will make sure his life is never ordinary again.

Being in E.R. is one thing (one of his favourite shows, like a kid’s fantasy, going into the television), but ‘Star Wars’ is mythical, a big a piece of film history as you can achieve. No-one gets to be in ‘Star Wars.’ There’s not a word big enough for just how huge ‘Star Wars’ will be.

Not due for release until the summer of 1999, ‘Star Wars’ guarantees, that even if he has a two-year lull, Ewan McGregor has fame (big fame, real fame, worldwide popularity) mapped out for him, put on hold.

His name, his fame, will be held over into the next millennium and placed in film history as part of the biggest series of films ever made. 

Push him about how he feels about dealing with this he says: “I don’t know. I don’t think about it. I’ve never thought about it.”

There is no surprise about this, although you might assume he would think about it all the time; think about nothing but this. 

But when someone so young is about to experience something much bigger than they’ve ever experienced before, they have no way of thinking about it. It’s like being a tight-tope walker and someone asks what it’s like when you look down. Thinking about it is probably the main thing that can stop you from doing it.

Think about it now, I tell him. But it doesn’t really work.

“Um, I don’t know. I haven’t considered it cos maybe it is too scary to think about. I think what it will mean to me is that I can carry on just banging out movies here, do the kind of films I do now, small movies that I’m interested in.”

This sounds disingenuous – luvvie wishful thinking. But in a sense it’s probably true.

Once you’ve done three ‘Star Wars’ films, where else do you go ? How do you top that ?

Time will tell how it works out, but until then it could be that doing ‘Star Wars’ is actually Ewan McGregor’s unusual but ingenious way of staying ordinary.