Cock of the North
November 1996: You are Ewan McGregor. In Trainspotting you play Britain's most famous heroin addict. You're fêted at Cannes, then signed by Hollywood. What do you do next? Star in a film in which you mostly appear naked, with words painted on your penis. Of course.
In November 1996, Ewan McGregor was, if not on top of the world, then rapidly approaching it. He was also on the cover of The Face. Trainspotting, his breakthrough film, had only come out a few months previously. But already the Scotsman, 25, was viewed in the UK and the US as one of the most exciting actors in the world. In a vivid, entertaining profile, interviewer Sylvia Patterson caught McGregor – beer in hand and knob jokes to the fore – at a special time. He was a new dad, a Brit talent talked of in the same breath as Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, and brilliantly unguarded. He had no problem getting his kit off if it made his arthouse European films more popular, while Los Angeles was a place to “lose all your critical faculty, it’s [a] valium haze… No one has to worry about me moving there.” Within three years he’d be at the heart of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Within 12 he’d be living in LA. But at this moment, he was all ours.
“Of course,” says Ewan McGregor airily, “I always bring my own cocaine mirror…” He reaches over, pulls the five-foot full-length mirror from its propped position on the wall, and with the swoop-armed flourish of a magician’s “lovely assistant” says: “This is what they mean by the long line of McGregor’s.” He roars with laughter, bent double all the way over to the stereo, surveys the pile of caseless CDs and makes his selection. Cigarettes And Alcohol flares up from the speakers. Ewan, who has been “drinking steadily throughout the day”, can of Stella aloft in one hand, Marlboro in the other, bows his legs in a spot-on impersonation of Liam Gallagher and nods in agreement of the song’s central philosophy: “All you need. Aw, ma band. I’ve never had a band before. I’ve met them both now, Liam and Noel, they were so sweet you wouldn’t believe it. And me and Ewen Bremner [Spud from Trainspotting] got to introduce them at the MTV Awards. We weren’t there at all, really, we did it from MTV Camden. That’s probably top secret. (Giggles, coughs, hiccups loudly.) God. I’m so fucking LUCKY.”
Luck plays no part, however, in being exceptionally good at your job and Ewan McGregor, in an unprecedented “fair body of work” spanning the last two years, mostly still forthcoming, is emerging as the most accomplished, versatile actor of his generation, as confident in the role of the cynical, charming, heroin-pinned schemester of Renton in Trainspotting as the bewigged dandy of the recent Emma, the socialist Yorkshire horn-blower of Brassed Off, the Dutch landscape gardener of Serpent’s Kiss, the murder suspect in Nightwatch and the sensual, relentlessly naked bisexual intellectual in Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book. Somewhere in-between he married Eve (pronounced Ev) Mavrakis, a French production designer, and they now have an eight-month-old child, Clara Mathilde. On 31st March this year he turned 25 years old.
The first thing you notice about Ewan McGregor, striding into the photo studio more than an hour late – “Sorry, sorry” – is his pre-styled poker-straight hair and its uncanny resemblance to Eddie lzzard’s. The second is the soothing, mesmerising quality of his east coast Scottish lilt. The third is the laser beam of light shooting out from his pale blue eyes – the supernatural gleam normally witnessed in the elevated spirit of the peaceably happy, the adrenalin-stoked successful, the deeply-in-love and the instantaneously charismatic. Ewan is all these things. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, thankfully, so Ewan is simultaneously aggrieved. It was America that did it, the distributor’s insistence on the “obscene” amount of press required for the promotion of Trainspotting. It was bad enough in Cannes, even though “it was a trip – we made quite a noise”. But “five days in a room talking to a hundred different journalists asking the same questions – do I think all drugs should be legalised?” (he didn’t) – caused him to end each day “dribbling”, an unfortunate precursor to the legions of American filmhounds that invaded the set of Nightwatch, the graveside murder drama shot in LA with Patricia Arquette and Nick Nolte. Immediately followed, right up until last week, by hordes of European filmhounds invading the set of Serpent’s Kiss, the seventeenth-century emotional drama shot in Ireland with Greta Scacchi and Richard E. Grant. All day and night they came and all of them “asked about the fucking toilet scene. So, tell you what, how about we don’t talk about Trainspotting at all? You all saw it, you know what it is, so no questions whatsoever. Like, none. OK?”
If Ewan McGregor was a stand-up comedian, this would be his catchphrase, a clipped “Oh Keh?” delivered up-ended for maximum, cheeky-young-pup effect. Mischievous, passionate, instant. And honest, possibly ill-advisedly so. He’s a Celtic redhead, you know.
In his one week “off” between the close of Serpent’s Kiss and the opening of the shoot of A Life Less Ordinary in Utah (the first big-budget – $10 million – part US-funded movie from the eulogised British Shallow Grave/Trainspotting team of director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge and producer Andrew McDonald – supposedly skewing their reputation-noir with their bizarre choice of a romantic comedy, starring Ewan and Cameron Diaz) he’s blown every other long-lusted-after piece of British press clean out the water. He’s late for the one he is doing because he’s been doing voiceovers. “I don’t really need to be doing them any more,” he cringes, “but my voice-over agents are from ages ago. I love them to death. So I do stuff for them. Perhaps it’s because I’m stupid. What an embarrassment.”
Today’s was for the in-flight information film for Virgin Airways. (Creamy voice-over mode): “Please fasten your safety belts. When the sign like this is shown, do not extinguish any cigarettes. Oh, I mean, do extinguish cigarettes.” That’ll be him sacked, anyway.
In three days he’s filming a 20-minute short called Swimming With The Fishes, “about sex and fish, set in a chip shop”, a five-night shoot in Eastbourne for his chum Justin Chadwick – they worked together years ago on a short for the Lloyds Bank Young Writers’ Challenge. He doesn’t have to do that either, but “I believe in him. I’ve got this weird loyalty thing going on. Mates and friendship and all that nonsense.”
The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne Front, Wednesday, 8pm. “Just in the nick of time,” grins Ewan, opening the hotel suite door in a woollen tank top and jeans to the vision of the Swimming With The Fishes crew and cast howling with laughter. They’re watching last night’s rushes of Ewan and lead female Nadia having semi-clothed sex, Ewan thrusting in Nadia’s lap as she perches on a storeroom counter beside a plate of raw fish fillets. Approaching climax, the plate rattles, falls off the counter and Ewan erupts in his seat as the metaphorical orgasm of exploding fillets fills up the screen. “Four years of training…” he chortles.
He’s due to film in the chip shop again but, right now, bottle of Pils in hand, he’s not budging out of the location car. First he must hear When The Whistle Blows to its end, an Irish folk number by The Fureys, one of the tunes he fell in love with in Ireland. “There’s Kleenex up the back,” he nods, “just listen to this, listen to this… (Sobbing) Don’t leave her! Don’t
go! Fantastic. This one puts you right over the edge.” Most of his time in Ireland was spent listening to The Fureys and sitting at night on the second fairway of the golf course outside his hotel, staring at the stars with his wife and “the bairn”. There appears to stir in the McGregor soul a profound, unapologetic sentimentality, of itself a genial, unselfconscious anti-pretension. In other words, he’s a great big chiffon girl’s blouson, something you’d never have guessed from the press appraisals of his personality filtering back from America this summer which represented him variously as stultifyingly earnest, “unforthcoming” and incapable of introspection. One piece in American Premiere began “Ewan McGregor hasn’t a clue” with reference to his zero knowledge of the film Kids or Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange – but all this will do little to take the shine off his unstoppable rise.
Straight from a 21-year-old drama college graduate via an eagle-eyed agent to Dennis Potter’s Lipstick On Your Collar, Ewan’s career trajectory has been more or less vertical – one line in Bill Forsythe’s ill-received Being Human, to BBC’s Scarlet And Black, to Shallow Grave, his first movie proper, gleaning £27 million worldwide. A grizzled exercise in gnarled friendship, greed and superb directorial imagination, it was Ewan’s – and Danny, John and Andrew’s – breakthrough, and it came to him the everyman’s route: through his agent. “A normal casting, I was just sent along to meet them.” Their subsequent collaboration, Trainspotting, is now a revered phenomenon, the best and most successful film ever made concerning class‑A drugs and their effects, good and bad.
Trainspotting’s drug-glamourisation controversy still astounds him. “All the film is is a reality that’s extreme; that’s what films are. Five people shooting up heroin is a lot less extreme than blowing someone’s face off with a gun, which people are happy to watch – that’s the mainstream.”
He can’t wait for The Team reunion in Utah. “I love the idea of the romantic comedy,” cackles Ewan, demonically, slewing on chip shop coffee heavily spiked with Bells whisky. “Our best British movie makers are going to try and beat America at their own game. They wanted big names, big stars, to show they can pull it out of them instead of the usual schlocky shite. All that money… (Gleefully) and they’ll abuse it in all the right ways. Definitely. They’re so clever and wise.”
“My brother’s particularly pissed off with me about that,” he breezes. “He’s fucking gutted. Harghargh. I love it. I’ve only ever seen her in The Mask. I’m just excited – they say she’s relatively untouched by the whole Hollywood nightmare.”
The Whole Hollywood Nightmare. It makes Ewan sick. He has it on good authority the majority of big names are idle and spoiled, “impossible to work with”. Independence Day. That made him really sick: “They should have their Equity cards removed!”
He’s shouting at the top of his tonsils and has been for the last 20 minutes, advocating the shooting through the head of all participants in the Independence Day “abomination!” before frothing passionately against sledgehammer American morality, the curse of the cliché, the omnipotence of advertising budgets, the obliteration of storyline at the hand of special effects and the power of US gun lobbies.
“I don’t know,” he despairs, “they can’t all be stupid fat people. (Pause) Oh, God. That’s it now. I’m destined to work in Eastbourne for the rest of my life.”
The first thing Ewan McGregor thought on his inaugural flight into Los Angeles for Nightwatch, nose pressed against the aircraft window, was: “It looks like the world’s biggest caravan park.” He was there on Oscar night, and couldn’t believe it. “It was like Christmas, Glasgow on Hogmanay, bigger than that.” He rented a 1966 Buick Skylark Convertible, “sex on wheels, the real America, cool America”. He couldn’t comprehend valet parking: “Turn up outside somewhere and give a stranger your keys? That’d never happen in this country: ‘Thanks very much – see ya.’ We had a brilliant time, went to all these parties (regressing rapidly into a 15-year-old), behaved really badly. (Huge lie approaching) I was doing heroin and cocaine and booze. Pthrtrht! Heeheehee!”
He doesn’t believe in the concept of Oscars – that an individual performance can be judged against another – but he wouldn’t shove it up his backside, Liam-at-the-Brits-style, if he won one: “Even that night, I thought, it’d be great to be in there, to win one and not feel… like they did. To be in, and still on the outside.”
The Whole Hollywood Nightmare. Ewan won’t be living in it and presumes Tim Roth, Gary Oldman and now Jonny Lee Miller (Sick Boy in Trainspotting) live there “because they like it. I don’t. It’s the place to go when you’re making a film, fine, but you’d lose all your critical faculty, it’s valium haze LA. No one has to worry about me moving there. If anyone was remotely bothered in any case, good God.”
London, he feels, is “the best city in the world”. Close friends there number Sean Pertwee (they appeared together in surf-lather Blue Juice together), the just-departed Jonny Lee Miller, Jude Law (Shopping, and the upcoming Oscar Wilde biopic starring Stephen Fry – Jude plays Wilde’s lover) and Damon Bryant (company producer): “We were all living in Primrose Hill for a while, a hard nut of us. lnevitably, on the rare week we’re all together in a year, some large party affair has to happen.” Jude and Damon are currently setting up their own film company, their projected first movie based on The Hellfire Club, a group of eighteenth-century rakes. Any originally proposed notions of a collaborative pool from Britain’s bubbling new blood remain on hold. Ewan, for his part, plans a three-month holiday “for Clara and Eve” after the completion of A Life Less Ordinary, which takes him to March next year. Then he begins work on Nora, written and directed by Pat Murphy, in which he plays James Joyce. Like the slacker generation never happened…
“Good mates like that are so important because they understand. Oh, dear.” Something unidentifiable has just flown from a McGregor nostril. “At this point,” he says, becoming, as he often does, the narrator to his own unfolding life, “a large bogie fell out of his nose. He pretended that it was something from a cigarette but she knew…”’ Could be worth a fortune one day. “So she pressed it beautifully, between the pages of a book.”
Ewan has no idea what make of an actor he is. “On the Trainspotting set,” he muses, “people were saying: ‘This is your second film for Danny – Alex, Shallow Grave; Renton, Trainspotting – they’re very similar guys, aren’t they?’ ‘I’m sorry? I think you should get your coat.’ I get this cynical, sarcastic character thing and I don’t see that, either.”
Maybe he’s more Tim Roth than the oft-compared Gary Oldman, more Noel Gallagher than Liam – the ordinary guy with the extraordinary talent. Jimmy Cosmo, Ewan’s father not only in Trainspotting, but also in Emma and now in Swimming With The Fishes, declares him “exceptionally grounded, professionally and emotionally. It’s the strength of his background. I’ve known Dennis [Lawson, Ewan’s uncle, revered character actor best known for Local Hero] for years. And Ewan gets the whisky in. On screen, I brought him up very well.” Even the brilliant mind of Danny Boyle comes up with nothing more illuminating than: “Ewan’s a thoroughbred, you get them once in a while.”
“Is that what he said?” chortles Ewan. “Maybe he means I’m fast and skinny. I’m not really that though, am I? Maybe he thinks I’m inbred. ‘He’s one of those classic inbred actors. Thin ankles. Skitty.’”
The simplest, and therefore perhaps wisest, theory comes from Nadia, suffering, as we speak, the after-sex effects of “third-degree chin burn”.
She quips that she might not bother having real sex ever again. “You can see there’s something about him the minute you lay eyes on him. He just… dead cool.” Nadia, incidentally, is 32.
More Gary and Liam then, after all.
Of aII the myriad forthcoming good-to-exceptional performance of McGregor, it’s his role in The Pillow Book which will eclipse them all. Peter Greenaway’s epic sojourn into the delights of sex and Japense calligraphy (filmed before the success of Trainspotting), it is as ponderous as it is beautiful – Greenaway hand-painting portions of the stills himself, more a visual poem than a movie. Ewan plays a Western bisexual writer living in Hong Kong upon whose whole naked body the heroine paints erotic text so that it will be read by his publisher’s lover. He doesn’t say much, has a lot of sex and is full-frontal naked for much of his onscreen time. He has a very handsome penis. Greenaway can expect Saturday night queue fever for the first time in his career.
“It was like reading the most beautiful thing,” says Ewan of the script (he calls a lot of things “things”), “so descriptive, like reading a novel.” It’s quite unnerving, I say, talking to someone you don’t know whose penis you’ve observed at close quarters.
(Ewan impersonating me) “I’ve seen his willie!”
What’s more, I’ve seen it when it’s been about ten feet tall, as it were. “You’re one of the few! Ahahaha! (Narrating) ‘She told me my dick was ten feet tall, she was moving into a great arena.’ In fact it was very similar to that…” (The sound man has chosen, at this very second, to place his three-foot boom on the chip shop table, and places its fur covering on top.) Ewan is practically hospitalised with mirth.
“Well, I don’t mind at all,” he grins, “it doesn’t bother me, not if it’s integral to the story. The worst thing about it was being freezing cold – we shot a lot of it in the studios in Luxembourg.”
Weren’t you worried about, you know, shrinkage?
(Pause, a puff on the Marlboro) “No fuckin’ worries there, darlin’.”
How d’you feel about the fact that thousands of people will pay their seven pounds just to have a look…
“At the old chap? Fff … ahahahahah!”
Greenaway’s vision, McGregor’s bollocks: no contest, I’m afraid. “I never saw it like that before,” he chokes. “Well, I think that’s fucking great. More people are going to see a piece of art and if it takes my nadgers to get them in there, then all’s the better.”
Ewan’s is an outstandingly erotic performance. There is no question any more, if there ever was, of his superlative sexual allure. The so-called “It” factor positivity pings out of him.
“Pings?””giggles Ewan, “I don’t know what you mean. You’re talking about my cock again aren’t you? ‘That pingy-out thing.’ Och, I kind of know what you mean. Well, you just… let it all ping out.”
What was it like being painted on…
“The old knocker? The paint was cold. It took four hours to do my p…”
Pthrthrth! It wasn’t that big, pal.
Film crew: “Shshshshsh”
“It took four hours to do my painting, front and back… (Assistant director ambles over) Am I needed? Thank God. I feel a bus that I need to be on arriving.”
Eastbourne beach, 3am, Thursday, filming scenes of despair and murder on a rowing boat.
“‘Here we are,’” says Ewan, narrating while crunching across the shingle, “‘on a pebble beach in Eastbourne. A lovely night, a purpley hue in the sky, the lights across the water…’ Fuck it, let’s have a seat. Where’s that bloody whisky gone…?”
The psychologists tell us, as they would do, that your first vivid memory marks the blueprint for the way you live the rest of your life. Typical recollections of The Original Neurosis include drowning, witnessing scenes of betrayal, a dangerous curiosity. Ewan McGregor’s first vivid memory, aged two, is dropping his Fry’s Chocolate Cream in the River Earn and bawling his eyes out in anguish. He grew up in rural Crieff, “a lovely place”, with “good parents, strong, loving, a good brother, no traumas, nothing nasty”, spending all his time mucking out stables, riding horses and gamboling over hillocks. At eight he was besotted with black-and-white films, spending whole weekends on the living room carpet, palms cradling his chin, watching back-to-back reruns of Hollywood and Ealing classics – his favourites being Jimmy Stewart’s It’s A Wonderful Life and Harvey.
“If it was black-and-white and romantic and soppy, it was good enough for me.”
Exotic Uncle Dennis would visit, all Afghan waistcoats and no shoes: “In Crieff – one of the Tory strongholds of the country!” Ewan wanted to be just like him: different, an actor.
“I didn’t know what that meant,” ponders Ewan, “I didn’t know it meant you pretended to be another person. I suppose I thought about it in terms of being like one of the people in those films. But from then on, everything was geared towards it.”
He attended Morrison’s Academy, a boarding school which also takes day pupils, much favoured by forces parents. Ewan and his brother were day boys granted “a special deal” – their father taught there, a “good, well-liked” gym teacher. So much for Ewan’s “council estate good looks”.
“It wasn’t that posh, we didn’t have our own language or anything.”
At 15, Ewan was the drummer in a school rock band, “the legendary Scarlet Pride”, red poster paint streaked through his hair, copious bandanas wrapped around his knees. Every morning he’d listen to Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell and White Wedding and spike his hair up for school. He refused parts in school plays – “I didn’t want to do it until I could do it properly.” He was no tough guy. “I would’ve liked to have been. I was always trying to get into all the different cliques, trying to be part of them all, not being one or the other. (Pause) That kind of sums me up, I think.” He became withdrawn. “I wasn’t learning anything about acting.” And there was his big brother, already Head Boy. (He’s now a pilot, flying Tornado jets for the RAF in Lossiemouth. He once took Ewan up in a two-seater, “and made sure I was sick. I vomited out of the window.”)
“I felt I had something to live up to a bit,” he decides, “but there was no pressure from anyone. I was just losing interest, desperate to start, to get away. There was never any question of me doing anything else, never, ever. But I never imagined I’d be allowed to leave.”
His parents couldn’t bear their son’s depressions. It was they who suggested he leave, with no formal qualifications, at 16. Since 14 he’d “hounded” Perth Repertory Theatre to “let me in to do something”. Because it was reputable?
“What does that mean? Nah, it was just the nearest.”
The week he left, he phoned again, wrote again, the very week they needed extras for A Passage To India “to run around in turbans”. He was in. After six months he was accepted for a one-year course at both Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh, opting for Kirkcaldy, where “I realised this was exactly what I wanted to do, that I hadn’t been mistaken all this time.” In 1989, aged 18, he moved to the Guildhall College in London. “I got in by pretending to be an elastic band.”
What college taught him most was “getting used to living in London. I always thought I was fantastic until I got to drama school, where that notion was soundly thrashed out. I don’t know if college can teach you to be a great actor. That ‘ping’ thing you were talking about, I don’t think you can be taught that. But maybe the three years allows it… to ping oot. Hihihihih! Ping Classes, Year Three. (Rolling around the pebbles) I was one of the world’s greatest pingers. King Ping. A Sultan of Ping!”
His dream was never about escape, certainly not from an otherwise mediocre life. “Not at all. I never thought I was special. I just felt truly that this was something I should be doing. (Huge pause) Happiness can be found in any way of life, nothing guarantees it. But I do think it’s to do with finding what it is that makes you up, makes you who you are. And doing this job is absolutely it.”
Tonight, Ewan doesn’t look anything like Eddie Izzard, he looks like Kurt Cobain. The skewed hair, the eyes, the pale blue V‑neck Crimplene top frayed at the collar. “That’s funny,” he muses, “me and Eve were walking home one night through Notting Hill Gate, a couple of years ago, shortly after Kurt Cobain killed himself, and we met (giggling) this young couple who were very obviously E’d out of their nuts and they wanted to know where the park was: (Over-enthusiastically) ‘D’youknowwheretheparkis? D’youknowwheretheparkis?’ I went: ‘It’s just down there…’ And the guy went: (Huge-eyed close-up stare) ‘You’re Kurt Cobain.’ And I went: ‘Just don’t fuckin’ tell anyone. Oh Keh?’, and left.”
He vibrates copiously on the pebbles in appreciation of his own story. And then gets back on the rowing boat and pretends to kill someone with an anchor, tears of rage streaming down his face.
Back at the hotel, 4.30pm, Thursday. Ewan McGregor is pacing around his penthouse suite with his hair standing on end. He’s just woken up. Just had a phonecall from US distributors Miramax; he’s needed back in LA for Nightwatch reshoots on the immediate completion of this one. The meagre two days off to spend with his wife and baby before they leave for three months in Utah have evaporated. “Fucking bastards,” he hollers, “why didn’t they fucking notice this three months ago? And they do it very cleverly, try and make it seem so advantageous to you, which of course is fucking rubbish, and all that flattery doesn’t mean a fucking thing to me. Och… (deep sigh) I understand, though, it happens. People are gonna think, ‘What a wanker, he should be thanking his lucky stars,’ and I do, I do every day, I love the work but… they don’t get it. They seem to want to live in their office. I want to live in my life.”
Perhaps to make himself feel better, perhaps to remind himself why he’s so upset in the first place, he produces the family photographs. In one, Eve’s in profile, a huge-grinned, dark-haired young woman bestowing upon her daughter a look of spectacular affection. Some babies aren’t beautiful at all, some babies look like Alf Garnett – Clara Mathilde McGregor really is beautiful. Disney beautiful.
“Isn’t she?” faints Ewan. “Yes. They both are.” Bastards.
Ewan met Eve on the set of Kavanagh QC in January ’94 when Ewan was 22 years old. In July ’95 they were married in the Dordogne in France, in a house with a huge garden and a pool borrowed for a week “so we could do it our way”. This meant that over the week friends and family arrived, lingered and departed, the wedding taking place in-between.
“We all cooked for each other at nights,” he says, “drank fine wines in the garden. You know how it can become completely out of your hands? Well, it felt like absolutely what we wanted to do. That’s very unusual, when you have a dream, to actually see it totally realised, which our marriage was. It was… perfect.”
At 23, Ewan McGregor had already, it seems, become one of those people in the old black-and-white movies for real. Like all the people in all the world who’ve ever fallen in marriage-sized love, he just “knew. I knew from the first day I saw her. Yeah… er, yeah.”
Good God, this really is The Dream.
“I know,” he says, squirming, “I think it’s true though. (Huge pause) It’s true. Yeah. I did.”
The night Clara was born was the night of the most fear Ewan’s ever known in his life.
“I wasn’t prepared to be that frightened,” he says, “I imagined you had to be this rock for your wife, and I just got more and more frightened the longer it went on, that something was going to go wrong. In the end she had a Caesarian section, and I had to go in there and all I was thinking was: ‘Oh no, I’m not big enough for this, not quite sure if I can handle this one. Oh Keh?’”
Clara was born and Dad was sent homewards on his own.
“I walked into the flat we’d rushed out of at four in the morning two days before,” he recalls. “The sheets were pulled back where we’d rushed out of bed, all the things we’d dropped were lying everywhere and, I dunno, you feel like a completely different person, you’ve gone through the biggest emotional experience of your life and this is what you left behind, this is Before and you’re already in the After. You can never go back there now.” He was 24.
“I don’t care if people find it unusual, or what people think at all,” he glows. “I think it’s only good, we’re happy, we can travel around together, she’ll have young parents, you’re building up a future together. People are so sceptical and I think that makes it all the stronger.”
Jonny Lee Miller has also now married. At 23.
“There’ll be all these Trainspotting posters,” giggles Ewan, “with big black marks through me and Jenny’s heads. Married! And he’s with child. Two down, three to go…”
And when everyone else is down the Soho House in four years’ time being iconised as the filmic tour de force of the new millennium…
“I’ll be at home, with the nappies,” he nods, and mock-wails: “‘I’ve made a terrible mistake!’ I dunno. All I know is, it’s so good to have them with me, it’s so good for me, I’m so much happier than I used to be. I’ve got these people there (nods to snapshots) to keep me in check. I’ve got a baby, I’m married so I can’t just roll with it, as it were.”
You can’t always get what you want, you get what you need?
“Well, that’s right.”
So maybe they saved you. From yourself.
Ewan McGregor has never heard anything quite so preposterous in his life. He rolls around in stitches, places his hand on his forehead in woebestruck actorly angst.
“‘My wife and child came into my life and saved me! From myself!’ If I see those words in quotes in this magazine I’m gonna roll it up and come and shove it right up your arse! They’ll pick that out in bold letters and stick it in the middle of the page.”
You might see it on the cover, mate.
“Oh my God. And yet it’s alright to go around saying: ‘Shoot actors through the head.’ What a life…”
He stands up to leave, curls his lip in amused afrontment and, with no discretion whatsoever, pulls the underpants out of his bum-crack.
Ewan McGregor: he’s just dead cool. As someone said yesterday.
“Did they?” he splutters and cloaks his embarrassment in narration for the very last time, “‘Yes, he was so cool – as he hoiked the knickers out of his arse.’”
We leave him in the lift, the thought uppermost in his mind – mere days before work begins on the Hollywood venture that will surely take him into the next, unknown dimension of success – to seek out a gift for his beloved Eve: “Some rock. Or one of those beautiful plastic piers that light up.” The lift door closes and one word rings out from inside, clean through the doors, wrapped in an audible grin.