Nationality: British. Born: Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland, 31 March 1971; nephew of theatre director Denis Lawson. Education: Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Family: Married production designer Eve Mavrakis, July 1995; one daughter: Clara Mathilde. Career: Began acting at Perth Repertory Theatre before going to Guildhall School; co-founded production company, Natural Nylon; appeared
Family Style (for TV) (as Jimmy)
Being Human (Forsyth) (as Alvarez); Shallow Grave (Boyle) (as Alex Law); Doggin' Around (Davis—for TV) (as Tom Clayton)
Blue Juice (Prechezer) (as Dean Raymond)
Trainspotting (Boyle) (as Mark "Rent-boy" Renton); Emma (McGrath) (as Frank Churchill); The Pillow Book (Greenaway) (as Jerome); Brassed Off (Herman) (as Andy)
The Serpent's Kiss ( Le Baiser du Serpent ) (Rousellot) (as Meneer Chrome); A Life Less Ordinary (Boyle) (as Robert)
Desserts (Stark) (as Stroller); Nightwatch (Bornedal) (as Martin Bells); Velvet Goldmine (Haynes) (as Curt Wild); Little Voice (Herman) (as Billy)
Nora (Murphy) (as James Joyce); Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace (Lucas) (as Obi-Wan Kenobi); Rogue Trader (Dearden) (as Nick Leeson); Eye of the Beholder (Elliott) (as The Eye)
Killing Priscilla (Gardiner—doc) (as himself)
Star Wars: Episode II (Lucas) (as Obi-Wan Kenobi)
Interview with John Naughton, in Empire (London), March 1996.
Interview with Dean Evans and Darren Vaughn, in Total Film (London), November 1997.
Interview with Matt Wolf, "Great Scot: Feisty McGregor Is On a Roll," in Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago), 20 December 1998.
Interview with Tom Roston, in Premiere (New York), May 1999.
"Ewan McGregor—The Esquire Interview," in Esquire (London), June 1999.
Interview with Ian Nathan, in Empire (London), August 1999.
Adams, Billy, Ewan McGregor: The Unauthorized Biography , Edin-burgh, 1998.
Brooks, Xan, Choose Life: Ewan McGregor and the British Film Revival , London, 1998.
Pendreigh, Brian, Ewan McGregor , London, 1998.
Nickson, Chris, Ewan McGregor , New York, 1999.
Pourroy, Janine, Shooting Star: The Ewan McGregor Story , Lon-don, 1999.
Robb, Brian J., Ewan McGregor: From Junkie to Jedi , London, 1999.
O'Hagan, Andrew, "The Boys Are Back in Town," in Sight and Sound (London), February 1996.
Jones, Oliver, "Shoot Me Up Scotty," in Premiere (New York), July 1996.
Svetkey, Ben, "It Had to be Ewan," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 13 June 1997.
Edwards, Gavin, "From Junkie to Jedi," in Details (New York), November 1997.
Heller, Zoe, "A Star's Wars," in Vanity Fair (London), Decem-ber 1998.
Collins, R., "The New Star Wars: Special Collector's Issue," in The Sunday Times Magazine (London), 16 May 1999.
* * *
Now famous for playing the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace , Ewan McGregor made his name in low-budget British films like Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. Although he has appeared in an astonishing variety of films in his short career, his trademark characters are men whose ill-advised bravado takes them out of their depth. But whatever role he is playing, McGregor exudes an enthusiasm for acting and filmmaking that is almost palpable. His versatility means he has been equally successful in small-scale dramas such as Little Voice , art-house films like The Pillow Book , and blockbusters like Star Wars. McGregor first became widely known in the United Kingdom with the menacing comic thriller Shallow Grave , funded by Channel Four, a British television company with a reputation for producing unusual films which often combine dark humour with acute observation. Shallow Grave is a cautionary tale of three Edinburgh flat sharers who find a large amount of money after the death of their mysterious new tenant. The plot centres on the gruesome disposal of the body in a shallow grave, and the friends' subsequent involvement with local gangsters as they try to keep the money for themselves and double-cross each other.
McGregor's role as the most greedy and manipulative of the flatmates established him as a major talent in only his third feature, but it was as heroin addict Mark "Rent-boy" Renton in the hit Trainspotting that he emerged as a star in the making. The film itself received mixed reviews from the critics, but its dark humour suited McGregor in the lead role. Supposedly an ironic treatment of the image of heroin and other illegal drugs, McGregor's high profile among his young audience led to worries that the film contributed to the popularity of a look that, in the 1990s, became known as "heroin chic."
The notoriety of Trainspotting might have damaged the career of a less versatile actor than McGregor, whose next project, playing Frank Churchill in an adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Emma , introduced him to an entirely new audience, and revealed an English accent comparable with Gwyneth Paltrow's in the title role. Peter Greenaway's beautifully photographed The Pillow Book saw McGregor return to controversy playing Jerome, the bisexual lover of a Japanese woman seeking revenge against her father's publisher, and determined to write a "pillow book" of her own through having her lovers paint calligraphic script on her body. Because of its slow pace, explicit sex scenes, and stylized imagery the film provoked enthusiasm and derision in equal measures, but McGregor's fourth film of 1996, the sentimental romantic comedy Brassed Off returned him to mainstream cinema audiences.
McGregor's break into American cinema came with A Life Less Ordinary. Directed by Danny Boyle, the British director responsible for Trainspotting , McGregor starred with Cameron Diaz in a romantic comedy involving a fake kidnap plot that saw him unable to curb Diaz's little rich girl antics despite his being threatened and eventually shot. He has continued to work in challenging and smaller scale film roles, playing the writer James Joyce in Nora , for example, but in Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace , McGregor became a world wide celebrity.
While his film career has gathered momentum, McGregor has also been successful in television, in Dennis Potter's dramas Karaoke (1996) and Lipstick On Your Collar (1993), and making an Emmy nominated guest appearance as a convenience store gunman in ER in 1997. He made his debut as a director in 1999 with a segment of the TV film Tube Tales entitled "Bone." The diversity of McGregor's career suggests an enthusiasm for the work rather than an interest in any particular type of film. He continues to specialize in likeable rogues, but while his career has not suffered from his making controversial choices in film roles, it seems certain to be affected by his involvement in the Star Wars saga. Should he decide to go that way, one wonders how he will manage the difficult transition from character actor to movie star.