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Clara before grabbing a couple of hours’ sleep — a mental oasis before the qu:stion-answer- question-answer mill began to grind again.
In Cannes. McGregor was certainly older (at a mere 25) and wiser to the wiles of the industry than when we’d ﬁrst met on the set of Shallow Grave in 1993. His first feature film role. he was cast as cynical newspaper hack Alex Law. ‘I really like playing such a cocky character,’ he admitted at the time. ‘but sometimes I don’t ﬁnd it very challenging. I wonder what that means‘?’
Joking aside. McGregor in the flesh isn’t at all like the selfish but sexy manipulators he has often played on screen — drug pusher Dean in Blue Juice. the secretly engaged Frank Churchill in (Burma. the over-confident date rapist in Kai'anag/i QC. even the charismatic junkie Mark Renton in Trainspotting. He’s the kind of guy who squeezed in a quick pint in a Stockbridge pub when his best mates came for a visit to the Shallow Grave shoot and brought a posse of school friends from his home town of Crieff to its premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
Now comfortably settled in London, McGregor’s separation from his Perthshire roots has more to do with an unfeasibly busy workload than notions of grandeur. His parents, both teachers, still live in Crieff, where his father is a PE. instructor at Morrison’s Academy. the school Ewan left at sixteen with four ‘0’ grades. Drama courses in Kirkcaldy and at London’s Guildhall followed a period with Perth Repertory Theatre Company.
McGregor’s main complaint is ‘it’s fucking freezing cold in Luxembourg’, but obviously not cold enough to, ehm, cause a shortage of talent, judging by what’s visible on screen.
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‘I never actually. er. acted on that stage.’ he says. coming clean. ‘I was a very humble — very humble — stagehand. But I did learn a lot watching what the other actors did. That’s often the best way to gain experience. I haven’t done any stage work for a long time and I’m beginning to get the itch again.‘
It’s a difficult itch to scratch — from his first paid job as Hopper in Dennis Potter’s Lipstick On Your Collar to now. film offers have been so plentiful that he hasn’t exactly been sitting around twiddling his thumbs. November sees the release of two films he made on either side of Trainspotting -— Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book and colliery band comedy-drama Brasserl ()/]’— and anyone who doubts his acting abilities shouldjust weigh up these vastly different roles.
In The Pillow Book. he plays a bisexual translator whose Japanese lover uses his body as a writing pad for her on-going novel. ‘Jerome is a complex and vain man.’ he says of the character. ‘He shamelessly uses and manipulates the publisher. and really surprises himself when he falls madly in love with Nagiko.’ It is the most openly erotic. sexually graphic ﬁlm he’s been involved in —just wait for the previously unseen phenomenon of queues round the block for a Greenaway ﬁlm.
‘This was a very different experience for me. but I found it very stimulating.’ McGregor continues. ‘I regularly spent between two and four hours having calligraphy applied all over my body — very sensual and something I will
EWAN MCGREGOR FEATURE
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. . . burying bodl In Shallow Grave . . .
@wan McGregoP the story so far
lipstick On Your Collar (I993) Straight from drama school to TV lead (and List cover) as Private Hopper. breaking ofﬁce boredom with bouts of Dennis Potter‘s musical fantasies. Scarlet And Black (I994) Alternately jumping from horseback into bed as Julien Sorel in the hit- and-miss BBC television adaptation of Stendahl’s novel.
Being Human (I994) His character. Alvarez. has one line on a beach in Morocco; yet Ewan spent a month on location on Bill Forsyth’s epic flop.
Shallow Grave (I994) Death and dismemberment between flatmates leads to instant stardom as cynical young newspaper hack Alex Law.
Blue Juice (I995) Surf's up as rootless London drug pusher Dean sorts out his life with his best mates on the Cornish coast.
Emma ( I996) Unconvincing in Austen-land. Ewan ’s Frank Churchill is not a good match for the heroine as he‘s already engaged to Miss Jane Fairfax.
The Pillow Book (I996) With kit more off than on. bisexual translator Jerome plays an unwitting part in a Japanese woman‘s intricate revenge plan. Probably the only ﬁlm in which Ewan will have his entire body written on. then ﬂayed.
Trainspotting (I996) Head shaved and skinnier by about 30|bs. Ewan becomes an unlikely sex god as clutrismaticjunkie Mark. First Britain. then Cannes. then America. now the world: everyone’s gone radge for Renton.
Brassed 0“ (I996) He blows his own trumpet in the colliery brass band and romances Tara Fitzgerald. but trouble looms as his Yorkshire pit is about to close down.
Nightwatch (I997) A law student moonlighting as the guard in a morgue is framed for murder in Ewan's ﬁrst American ﬁlm. which also stars Nick Nolte and Patricia Arquette.
The Serpent’s Kiss ( I997) Hired as a gardener by l7th century wealthy landowner Richard E. Grant. he‘s more interested in cultivating his boss’s wife. Greta Scacchi.
A life less Ordinary (1997) Tracked by a couple of angelic assassins after he kidnaps Cameron Diaz. Ewan turns to romantic comedy for his third partnership with Boyle. Macdonald and Hodge.
Future possibilities include a version of D. H. Lawrence’s Sons And lovers and playing James
wee in Pat Murphy’s Nora.
The List l-l4 Nov 1996 7