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Ewan McGregor

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Also Known As: Ewan Gordon Mcgregor, Ewan G Mcgregor Died:
Born: March 31, 1971 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: United Kingdom Profession: actor, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

In perhaps one of the fastest rises in Hollywood, actor Ewan McGregor emerged onto the scene six months shy of graduating drama school to star in his first miniseries. A mere two years later, he was the toast of the independent circuit with his brave performance in Danny Boyle's highly regarded "Trainspotting" (1996), which propelled the young actor to stardom virtually overnight. Ever since his acclaimed portrait of a heroin addict struggling to put his drug days behind him, McGregor was a consistent presence in features like "Emma" (1996) and "A Life Less Ordinary" (1997) as well as blockbusters like smash musical, "Moulin Rouge" (2001). Never shy to speak his mind, he routinely lambasted big budget Hollywood movies, only to find himself playing one of the most beloved characters in one of the most popular film franchise of all time. As Obi-Wan Kenobi in the three "Star Wars" prequels - "The Phantom Menace" (1999), "Attack of the Clones" (2002) and "Revenge of the Sith" (2005) - McGregor deftly channeled the character created by Sir Alec Guinness, while at the same time making it his own. Alternating between smaller indies such as Mike Mills' "Beginners" (2010) and "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen"...

In perhaps one of the fastest rises in Hollywood, actor Ewan McGregor emerged onto the scene six months shy of graduating drama school to star in his first miniseries. A mere two years later, he was the toast of the independent circuit with his brave performance in Danny Boyle's highly regarded "Trainspotting" (1996), which propelled the young actor to stardom virtually overnight. Ever since his acclaimed portrait of a heroin addict struggling to put his drug days behind him, McGregor was a consistent presence in features like "Emma" (1996) and "A Life Less Ordinary" (1997) as well as blockbusters like smash musical, "Moulin Rouge" (2001). Never shy to speak his mind, he routinely lambasted big budget Hollywood movies, only to find himself playing one of the most beloved characters in one of the most popular film franchise of all time. As Obi-Wan Kenobi in the three "Star Wars" prequels - "The Phantom Menace" (1999), "Attack of the Clones" (2002) and "Revenge of the Sith" (2005) - McGregor deftly channeled the character created by Sir Alec Guinness, while at the same time making it his own. Alternating between smaller indies such as Mike Mills' "Beginners" (2010) and "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" (2012) with mainstream features ranging from dysfunctional family drama "August: Osage County" (2013) to Disney's live-action "Beauty and the Beast" (2017), McGregor remained a viable performer capable of playing just about any role he wished.

Born on Mar. 31, 1971 in Crieff, Scotland, McGregor was raised by his father, James, and his mother, Carol, both of whom were teachers. After leaving Morrison's Academy, where his father was the gym teacher, McGregor worked a series of odd jobs and attended Kirkcaldy College of Technology - later renamed Fife College - where he studied drama. He also worked with the Perth Repertory Theatre. Moving to London, he continued his dramatic studies at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, but left six months before graduating to star in his first major production, Dennis Potter's six-part miniseries, "Lipstick on Your Collar" (Channel 4, 1993), in which he played a young, rock 'n' roll-loving British serviceman stationed in the War Office as a Russian translator. That same year, he starred as a 19th-century Frenchman who dreams of becoming another Napoleon, but is betrayed by the married woman who loves him, in the television miniseries "Scarlet & Black" (BBC2, 1993).

With two solid starring roles under his belt right off the bat, it was no surprise that McGregor soon made his feature film debut, appearing in director Bill Forsyth's "Being Human" (1994), starring Robin Williams as a man who searches for his family in various incarnations throughout human history. He forged a beneficial relationship with Danny Boyle, who directed McGregor in the acclaimed crime thriller "Shallow Grave" (1995). A mere two years after turning professional, McGregor was vaulted into international stardom when he starred in "Trainspotting" (1996), Boyle's kinetic and visceral comedic drama about young heroin addicts in Edinburgh. The popularity of "Trainspotting," both with critics and audiences, officially launched McGregor's career, thanks in no small part to his harrowing and disarming performance, which earned him a London Film Critics Circle Award for Best British Actor.

Building on his success, McGregor landed more high profile feature roles, including playing the dashing Frank Churchill opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in "Emma" (1996), Douglas McGrath's adaptation of the Jane Austen classic. McGregor next played a British expatriate used by a poet (Vivian Wu) as a writing pad in Peter Greenaway's erotic "The Pillow Book" (1997). Displaying his romantic side opposite Tara Fitzgerald, McGregor was an unemployed mineworker performing in a brass band in the well-received comedy "Brassed Off" (1997). After an appearance as a burglar who comes up against a vampire in a 1996 episode of "Tales from the Crypt" (HBO, 1989-1996), McGregor reached mainstream American television viewers as a petty crook whose attempted robbery of a convenience store goes awry in an episode of "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009), which earned him an Emmy Award nomination for best guest-starring appearance. Reteaming with Boyle and writer John Hodge, the actor was cast in the quirky romantic fantasy, "A Life Less Ordinary" (1997).

McGregor continued to display his prodigious talents in the period drama "A Serpent's Kiss" (1997); as an innocent man who becomes the prime suspect in a murder in "Nightwatch" (1998); and as a glam-rock musician a la Iggy Pop in Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine" (1998). The never bashful star rounded out the year with an uncharacteristic role in "Little Voice" (1998), in which he played a painfully shy telephone installer who keeps carrier pigeons. In a rare stage appearance, McGregor starred in the London Comedy Theatre's production of "Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs" (1999). Though he publicly decried the big-budget blockbuster on numerous occasions, McGregor made headlines and magazine covers when he landed the coveted role of a youthful Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas' highly anticipated "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999). Though the film itself was received as a disappointment by many faithful fans of the series, it nonetheless struck box-office gold and turned McGregor into a bona fide star.

After playing a man somewhat innocently stalking a woman (Ashley Judd) in "Eye of the Beholder" (2000), McGregor portrayed James Joyce in "Nora" (2000), a little-seen biopic of the legendary Irish author's longtime love that was produced by Natural Nylon, a company McGregor formed with fellow actors Jude Law, Jonny Lee Miller, Sadie Frost and Sean Pertwee. The following year, he won raves and an entire new wave of fans - particularly of the female persuasion - as the star of Baz Luhrmann's musical spectacular "Moulin Rouge!" (2001). That same year, McGregor was featured in Ridley Scott's fact-based war film "Black Hawk Down" (2001), bringing strength and vulnerability - as well as an impressive American accent - to his role as a desk jockey soldier who sees his first combat in the 1993 Somalian humanitarian mission that turned into a devastating battle.

McGregor reprised the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Lucas' "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002), which he followed with another singing and dancing role as the swinging playboy Catcher Block opposite Renee Zellweger in "Down With Love" (2003), director Peyton Reed's tribute to the fluffy Doris Day-Rock Hudson sex comedies of the 1960s. The actor closed out the year with a part in director Tim Burton's fantasy, "Big Fish" (2003), playing the role of Young Ed Bloom in the fanciful, mythically embellished flashbacks, as related by Albert Finney as the older version of the same character. Now going back and forth between studio features and small independents with ease, McGregor appeared in the erotic noir thriller, "Young Adam" (2004), based on Alexander Trocchi's Beat Generation novel.

After narrating the motorcycle racing documentary "Faster" (2004), McGregor provided the voice of Rodney Copperbottom, a genius inventor who finds himself out of work in "Robots" (2005), an animated sci-fi tale about a world entirely inhabited by robots. Once again, he reprised Obi-Wan for the third and final prequel "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (2005). Ever the physical actor, McGregor continued to demonstrate his commitment and facility with a weapon in the film's extensive light saber battles. Meanwhile, prior to the release of "Episode III," McGregor and friend Charley Boorman embarked on an across-the-globe motorcycle ride that spanned four months, 18 countries and over 20,000 miles. The result was "Long Way Down" (BBC2, 2007), a six-part television series documenting the extraordinary journey.

In June 2005, McGregor sang and danced on stage when he starred as Sky Masterson in a London production of "Guys and Dolls" at the West End's Piccadilly Theatre alongside Jane Krakowski. The actor returned to the big screen for the sci-fi actioner "The Island" (2005) as Lincoln Six Echo, a man who lives in an orderly facility seemingly in a post-Apocalyptic world. "The Island" failed to score with audiences, as did "Stay" (2005), a psychological thriller that cast McGregor as a shrink with a suicidal patient (Ryan Gosling). After starring opposite Renée Zellweger in period drama "Miss Potter" (2006), McGregor was part of the ensemble cast in the romantic comedy "Scenes of a Sexual Nature" (2006). He next starred in Woody Allen's turn into dark crime thriller territory "Cassandra's Dream" (2007) and followed with a starring role opposite Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams in the little-seen erotic thriller, "Deception" (2008).

Returning to blockbuster films, McGregor was the Camerlengo of the Catholic Church, who takes control of the Vatican after the mysterious death of the Pope in "Angels & Demons" (2009), which he followed with a turn as an investigative journalist who uncovers bizarre military experiments in "The Men Who Stare at Goats" (2009). Rounding out a busy year, McGregor was the sensitive cellmate of a convicted con man (Jim Carrey) who falls in love with him in the dark comedy "I Love You Phillip Morris" (2009), before playing aviation pioneer, Gene Vidal in the biopic "Amelia" (2009). In Roman Polanski's political thriller "The Ghost Writer" (2010), he was the titular unnamed ghost writer who is hired to write the memoirs of a British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan). After that McGregor had a supporting turn in the lighter family film, "Nanny McPhee Returns" (2010), and went on to play the son of a man (Christopher Plummer) who comes out as a gay man following the death of his mother in the acclaimed drama, "Beginners" (2010). Following a turn opposite MMA fighter Gina Carano in Steven Soderbergh's spy thriller "Haywire" (2011), McGregor was a man with Asperger's syndrome who falls for Emily Blunt in "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" (2012). He capped off the year with a gripping performance opposite Naomi Watts as a man literally ripped away from his family during the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in the drama "The Impossible" (2012).

McGregor co-starred in Bryan Singer's blockbuster "Jack the Giant Slayer" (2013), followed by a key supporting role in dysfunctional family drama "August: Osage County" (2013) opposite Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. After starring in Australian thriller "Son of a Gun" (2015), McGregor costarred opposite Johnny Depp in crime caper flop "Mortdecai" (2015) and starred as both Jesus and Satan in Rodrigo Garcia's religious drama "Last Days in the Desert" (2015). Supporting roles in Don Cheadle's "Miles Ahead" (2015) and drama "Jane Got A Gun" (2016) bracketed a cameo in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (2015) as Obi-Wan. After starring in Susanna White's John le Carré adaptation "Our Kind of Traitor" (2016), McGregor made his directorial debut after director Phillip Noyce pulled out of the adaptation of Philip Roth's "American Pastoral" (2016); the film was a critical and commercial disappointment. After co-starring as the CGI creation Lumiere in Bill Condon's live-action "Beauty and the Beast" (2017), McGregor reteamed with Boyle for the long-awaited sequel "T2 Trainspotting" (2017), picking up the characters' stories two decades later.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Tube Tales (1999) Director ("Bone")

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Doctor Sleep (2020)
2.
3.
 Zoe (2018)
4.
5.
 Trainspotting 2 (2017)
6.
7.
 Jane Got a Gun (2016)
8.
9.
 Miles Ahead (2015)
10.
 Mortdecai (2015)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1996:
Had featured role opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in "Emma"
1997:
Earned Emmy nomination for guest starring role on NBC medical drama "ER" as a robber who takes Nurse Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) hostage
1997:
Reteamed with Danny Boyle and John Hodge for "A Life Less Ordinary" opposite Cameron Diaz
1998:
Garnered praise for his turn as an American glam rocker in "Velvet Goldmine"; performed songs on the soundtrack
1998:
Returned to London stage for revival of "Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs," staged by his uncle Denis Lawson
1999:
Portrayed financier Nick Leeson, who brought down Barings Bank in biopic "Rogue Trader" (Cinemax)
2000:
Cast as Irish writer James Joyce in biopic "Nora"
2001:
Appeared in fact-based war film "Black Hawk Down"
2003:
Had lead opposite Renee Zellweger in "Down With Love"
2004:
Appeared with fellow actor Charley Boorman on a motorcycle journey across Europe, Asia and North America, which was filmed for a reality type series aired on Bravo
2004:
Starred opposite Tilda Swinton in thriller "Young Adam"
2005:
Made musical theater debut in remake of "Guys and Dolls" in London's West End
2005:
Voiced genius inventor Rodney Copperbottom in animated feature "Robots"
2005:
Co-starred with Scarlett Johansson in sci-fi drama "The Island," directed by Michael Bay
2006:
Cast in "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker" based on <i>Stormbreaker</i>, first novel in Alex Rider series
2006:
Re-teamed with Renee Zellweger in biopic "Miss Potter" about <i>Peter Rabbit</i> author Beatrix Potter
2008:
Co-starred with Colin Farrell as down on their luck brothers in Woody Allen's "Cassandra's Dream"
2008:
Co-starred with Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams in "Deception"
2009:
Played a powerful Vatican insider in film adaptation of Dan Brown's novel "Angels & Demons"
2009:
Portrayed Gene Vidal, Earhart's lover in Mira Nair's biopic "Amelia"
2009:
Co-starred with George Clooney in "The Men Who Stare At Goats"
2010:
Co-starred opposite Pierce Brosnan in Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer"
2010:
Cast alongside Emma Thompson in family comedy "Nanny McPhee Returns"
2010:
Co-starred with Jim Carrey as lovers in "I Love You Phillip Morris"
2010:
Played the son of an elderly cancer victim (Christopher Plummer) in "Beginners"
2011:
Joined all-star cast including Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton and newcomer Gina Carano in action thriller "Haywire," directed by Steven Soderbergh
2012:
Co-starred with Emily Blunt in "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," based on novel by Paul Torday
2012:
Cast opposite Naomi Watts in "The Impossible," about a family's struggle to survive devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami
2013:
Played Elmont, leader of the king's elite guard in action fantasy film "Jack the Giant Slayer"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Kirkcaldy College of Technology: -
Guildhall School of Music and Drama: London , England -
Morrison's Academy: -

Notes

With Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Jonny Lee Miller and others, McGregor is one of the co-founders of the independent production company Natural Nylon.

"I'm so driven--working madly, and almost arrogantly ambitious. But I've never known towards where or what." --Ewan McGregor in Details, November 1997.

On working with director Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge: "It's never been the case that I'm in the next one, not before casting. [Boyle and Hodge are] terribly loyal as a team to me and I to them, but the loyalty would stop if I'm not right to play a part, and that's the way it should be. So it's not a forgone conclusion that I will be in them all--but I better be." --McGregor to Los Angeles Times, October 19, 1997.

On the required nudity for his role in "The Pliiow Book", McGregor told Entertainment Weekly (June 13, 1997): "Being naked was far more worrisome for everyone else on the set than it was for me. I actually enjoyed it, the truth be told. There was something incredibly powerful about it. Usually you'd get arrested for that sort of thing, but I got paid."

"[Ewan has] that thing that Tom Hanks has. He's like the guy next door. He's got that ordinariness--that's his nature. He doesn't try to represent himself without spots, and I don't think he's thinking about that. It's instinct. [But] there's something quite naughty about Ewan as well. Very naughty." --director Danny Boyle in Buzz, March 1997.

"I won't buy into the Hollywood thing ... I want to be in good movies." --McGregor quoted in Time, July 15, 1996.

"We spoke about it before we filmed ["Trainspotting"]: should we try heroin? Once we started doing research with some of the addicts -- once we met those people, it really felt disrespectful even to think about that. But at first, I kinda had an attitude: I'd lost all this weight to play my character, and I felt that Kate Moss skinny glamour and had this romantic idea. Because heroin's the worst one -- the big, bad one. So there's a mystique around it." --McGregor to Joshua Mooney in "Great Scot", Movieline, August 1996.

McGregor on Danny Boyle's decision to use Leonardo DiCaprio instead of him in "The Beach": "I was gutted. Fucking gutted. ... It's been kind of like a love affair between Danny and me -- and now he's seeing someone else." -- to Vanity Fair, December 1998.

"I've slagged off big-budget blockbusters in my time, but I see my wanting to be in 'Star Wars' as a very different kettle of fish. It's not like some shit like 'Independence Day' or 'Godzilla'. 'Star Wars' is like modern fairy tales and fables. It's a complete entity of its own, and it so has to do with my generation.' --Ewan McGregor to Premiere, May 1999.

McGregor on his role in "Moulin Rouge!": "It was quite painful to do and a lot of me came out on screen which made me feel quite vulnerable. I felt I was true to my own character ... It reminded me of coming down to London for the first time. I didn't fall in love with a courtesan, but I may as well have done. I came from a small Scottish town to drama scahool and a crazed environment. It was a shock for a pure naive, romantic kind of guy." --to London's Evening Standard, August 3, 2001.

"He really can do just about anything. He's smart. He becomes the character." --"Black Hawk Down" producer Jerry Bruckheimer on McGregor, quoted in Us Weekly, January 21, 2002.

"I'm really happy with all the films I've made. I don't think any of them have been a mistake, 'cause I've learnt something from them, and I don't worry about having turned down films that have been hugely successful. I don't judge my success in a movie by the box office 'cause there are some really successful films that are absolutely awful to watch."---McGregor quoted in Interview May 2004

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Eve Mavrakis. Production designer. French; born c. 1965; met in 1994 while both worked on "Kavanagh QC", a British series; married in July 1995; mother of McGregor's daughters.

Family close complete family listing

father:
James McGregor. Teacher.
mother:
Carol McGregor. Teacher.
uncle:
Denis Lawson. Actor, director. Appeared in the three "Star Wars" movies.
brother:
Colin McGregor. Royal Air Force pilot. Born c. 1969; married with a son born in June 1999.
daughter:
Clara Mathilde McGregor. Born in February 1996; mother, Eve Mavrakis.
daughter:
Esther Rose McGregor. Born on November 7, 2001; mother, Eve Mavrakis.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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