Scottish actor Ewan McGregor first came to film fans' attention in the bleakly brilliant 'Trainspotting' (1996) and has since refused to be typecast (except, maybe, as the actor voted most likely to go full frontal). His many roles range from androgynous rock star to ardent lover to Jedi Knight.

We chatted with the star about his latest, the contentious action thriller 'Angels & Demons' and made some fun discoveries. For example, McGregor's bored by documentaries about the Vatican, not down with a 'Trainspotting' sequel, complimentary of Jim Carrey's lovemaking, admiring of George Clooney's activism -- and clueless when it comes to Megan Fox.


Scottish actor Ewan McGregor first came to film fans' attention in the bleakly brilliant 'Trainspotting' (1996) and has since refused to be typecast (except, maybe, as the actor voted most likely to go full frontal). His many roles range from androgynous rock star to ardent lover to Jedi Knight.

We chatted with the star about his latest, the contentious action thriller 'Angels & Demons' and made some fun discoveries. For example, McGregor's bored by documentaries about the Vatican, not down with a 'Trainspotting' sequel, complimentary of Jim Carrey's lovemaking, admiring of George Clooney's activism -- and clueless when it comes to Megan Fox. -- By Angie Argabrite

Summer 2009 Action Movies & Thrillers

    Summer Action Movies

    Lights, camera ... action! When most people think of summer movies, they think fight scenes, chase sequences, awesome superpowers and earsplitting explosions.

    This summer won't disappoint. Not only will we get some high-profile sequels like 'Transformers' and 'Angels & Demons,' but we'll see innovative reboots of the 'X-Men,' 'Terminator' and 'Star Trek' franchises ... plus the G.I. Joe squad, a new Tarantino movie and Johnny Depp -- NOT playing Captain Jack. Check out 11 movies that will have your pulse racing.

    Warner Bros. / Paramount / Sony / Paramount

    'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'

    Opening: May 1

    Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds

    What It's About: After an 'X-Men' trilogy that was two-parts glorious, the Marvel series goes into rewind with a series of origin prequels, beginning with the formative days of fan favorite Logan/Wolverine (Jackman). The actioner focuses on the clawed hero's clash with Victor Creed/Sabretooth (Schreiber) -- and will no doubt play out better on the big screen than some unfinished bootleg on your computer monitor (ahem).

    More on 'Wolverine':


Get 'X-Men: The Last Stand':

    20th Century Fox

    'Star Trek'

    Opening: May 7

    Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana

    What It's About: J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek' relaunch goes where no movie has gone before: back to the origins of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew. The film follows James T. Kirk (Pine), Spock (Quinto) and co. as they rise through the Starfleet Academy, embark on the Enterprise's maiden voyage and, of course, save the world from Romulans for the very first time. Judging by positive early buzz, this franchise will most certainly live long and prosper.

    More on 'Star Trek':


'Star Trek: The Original Series':

      'Angels & Demons'

      Opening: May 15

      Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer

      What It's About: The follow-up to the controversial 'Da Vinci Code' is based on another mystery-thriller by novelist Dan Brown. This time, religious expert Robert Langdon finds himself in Rome on an action-packed quest to save the Vatican -- and Catholicism -- from being destroyed by a vengeful secret society. Codes are cracked, conspiracy theories are debunked and murder ensues.

      More on 'Angels & Demons':


Get 'The Da Vinci Code':

      Sony

      'Terminator Salvation'

      Opening: May 21

      Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin

      What It's About: The eagerly anticipated fourth installment in the 'Terminator' franchise leaps ahead to the year 2018, in which John Connor (Bale) has turned from a wussy kid (no offense, Edward Furlong/Nick Stahl) into a badass, battle-scarred foot soldier in the war against Skynet. Though director McG lost the battle to score an R rating, the flick looks to be loaded with action, cyborgs and jaw-dropping twists -- but not, alas, with the much-hyped shots of a topless Moon Bloodgood.

      More on 'Terminator Salvation':


Get 'Terminator' Movies:

'Sarah Connor Chronicles':

      Warner Bros.

      'The Taking of Pelham
      1 2 3'


      Opening: June 12

      Starring: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini

      What It's About: The 1974 thriller about a heist man who hijacks an NYC subway gets a 21st-century re-rub with Washington and Travolta mixing it up as MTA hero and criminal, respectively (the actors also sport remarkably similar facial hair -- impending plot point?). Gandolfini joins the fun in his first major post-'Sopranos' role, this time on the right side of the law as the mayor of New York.

      More on 'Pelham':


Get 'Pelham' (1974):

      Sony

      'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen'

      Opening: June 24

      Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Rainn Wilson

      What It's About: It's right there in the title -- the 'Fallen,' that'd be Megatron, comes back for 'Revenge.' Duh. But in case you need a little refresher: Megatron is revived and the Decepticons return to take over the earth ... and get all evil on Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf). Sam and his sexy-hot mechanically inclined gal pal Mikaela (Fox) are still teamed up with the Autobots. Sneak peeks hint at even bigger robot battles and even more massive destruction.

      More on 'Revenge of the Fallen':


Get 'Transformers':

      Paramount

      'Public Enemies'

      Opening: July 1

      Starring: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard

      What It's About: Acting heavyweights Johnny Depp and Christian Bale find themselves on opposite sides of the law in Michael Mann's gritty tale of charismatic Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger (Depp) and the dashing FBI agent (Bale) charged with catching him. With gunfights, jailbreaks and betrayals galore -- plus one "Lady in Red" and socioeconomic relevance to boot -- this period shoot-'em-up promises to be both entertaining and timely.

      More on 'Public Enemies':

      Universal

      'All Good Things'

      Opening: July 24

      Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

      What It's About: Gosling plays a New York real-estate heir (think a young Donald Trump, with better hair) who gets involved with a woman from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks (Dunst). When she mysteriously disappears, a down-on-his luck detective (Morgan) stumbles upon the truth ... and a lot more than he bargained for. Based loosely on a real story, the movie marks the feature directorial debut of Andrew Jarecki ('Capturing the Friedmans').

      More on 'All Good Things':

      Kevin Winter, Getty Images/ Jean Baptiste, WireImage.com

      'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra'

      Opening: Aug. 7

      Starring: Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans

      What It's About: Kids of the '80s, welcome back these "real American heroes" from the cartoon/toy franchise/comic book series; this movie explores the back story of the evil Cobra organization, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander. Ever wondered what Duke (Tatum), Hawk (Quaid), Ripcord (Wayans), Scarlett (Rachel Nichols) and the Baroness (Sienna Miller) might look like in the flesh? Well, now you'll know -- and knowing, as they say, is half the battle.

      More on 'G.I. Joe':

      Paramount


How did you prep for the role of the Pope's right-hand man, the Camerlengo Patrick Mckenna?
I had to get a sense of his world. So I had to get all the background on the Vatican and being a priest, but that's quite difficult to do. We weren't allowed to film in the Vatican, [and] we didn't get any help from them in terms of background, so I had to look at some documentaries about the ... workings of the Vatican and Swiss Guard and stuff. But to be honest, they're very boring to watch ... really quite tedious in fact, so I watched as much as I could. But I had a very good adviser that was a father from New York who was my priestly adviser. He was on set all the time whenever we had to do any of the ceremonial stuff, or any of the ritual stuff, things in the Catholic church, because I wasn't really familiar with those. And then also he was on hand to talk to me about being a priest and fill me on the kind of pecking order between cardinals and priests and high priests.

Did the controversy surrounding the movie affect your decision about taking on the role?
No, because I didn't think that there was any. I didn't feel like when I read the script there was anything controversial about it; there's nothing that's anti-Catholic. If there had been anything that I felt kind of dissed someone else's religion, I wouldn't have been involved in it. I'm not interested in doing that kind of thing. I just thought it was a really good thriller, a fast-paced kind of edgy thriller set in the world of the Vatican, which is a world we don't know much about, and it's a high-powered world, so that makes the stakes quite high. The people in the Catholic church in the movie who are the evildoers get their comeuppance in the end, and it's quite clear that the Catholic church shuns them and punishes them and isn't condoning their behavior in any way. In any walk of life there are people that are good people and there are occasionally people that do crazy things for whatever reason, you know?



You didn't film in the Vatican, but did you film in Vatican City?
I didn't film in Rome at all, sadly. I've wanted to work in Rome for a long time, but ... I didn't shoot any of this in Rome. I shot for a couple days in Caserta, [Italy,] where there's an old palace. All of my stuff was done in L.A. really, because we couldn't film in the Vatican building, and my character is mainly inside the Vatican, so they built the Sistine Chapel in a soundstage at Sony, and they built the huge exterior to St. Peter's Square [in the Vatican City] down in a racetrack in south L.A.

You mostly act in smaller or independent films, but 'Angels & Demons' and obviously 'Star Wars' were huge studio productions -- how do the experiences differ?
As actors, we don't have low budget performances and big budget performances ... And I think you'd find that [we actors are] enormously committed no matter who's making the film, or what the budget is. I love my job and ... I just pick scripts [based] on the story and the script and if I think the character would be interesting to play. That's really it ... and I'm lucky enough to go from small independent films to big studio pictures, you know ... it's the same job at the end of the day.

In one of your smaller movies, 'I Love You, Philip Morris,' you kiss Jim Carrey. How does he rate as an on-screen kisser?
Full oral penetration with Jim, yeah ... Jim's a very sensitive but firm lover, you know? And I think that's what makes him such a great actor and such a great man [laughs].

There's been more talk of a 'Trainspotting' sequel -- would you be interested in participating in it?
I don't think I would, for several reasons. The first one is that I didn't think the book was very good. The novel of 'Trainspotting' was quite fantastic, it was beautiful, quite moving and disturbing writing, and then I find that the sequel ... the book that Irvine Welsh wrote was called 'Porno,' and ... it didn't move me as much ... He'd written a good sequel to the film as opposed to a sequel to his book. It's also a similar story, you know, the betrayal of trust ... Renton walks away with all the money at the end again. And I thought I don't want to make the same story again. And, also, I think just the idea of getting the cast together again 10 to 15 years later isn't good enough, you need more than that. I wouldn't want to damage 'Trainspotting''s reputation, because it was an amazing film and a very important film of its time, a very important film for me and ... a very important film for British cinema. I wouldn't want to leave people remembering a poor sequel rather than leaving its reputation where it sits at the moment, which is kind of a phenomenal film.

Have you been in touch with Danny Boyle since he won the Oscar for 'Slumdog Millionaire'?
No, I haven't spoken to Danny for years, I'm afraid. But I thought it was very well deserved; I liked 'Slumdog' very much. I thought it was an excellent film, and it was nice to see him getting all those accolades; it was great.

Would you do another musical, like 'Moulin Rouge'? Or might you ever release an album?
No ... I think it's quite tricky for actors to release albums. It's difficult, because I'm an actor, you know, I'm not a musician. I love singing, but I don't have a big repertoire of songs that I've written; I mean, I've got a few, but nothing that I could fill an album with, and I don't want to do it just for the sake of it. I don't know, we'll see. I certainly would be very happy to do another musical; I loved it. It would just have to be the right thing.

You did a film with George Clooney, 'The Men Who Stare at Goats.' How was that experience?
I loved working with him, and he made me laugh a lot ... I admire him very much, because I think he's a great man, he's a great actor -- and I admire his commitment to his work that he does in the Sudan; he really puts his money where his mouth is, and he goes and he takes himself to the Sudan and Darfur, and I admire him for that. He doesn't do the lip service to it, he really is quite instrumental, going to meet high-powered figures around the world, using his status as an actor to get access to presidents and prime ministers to try and get them to help as well, which is really admirable.

You play Gene Vidal in the upcoming 'Amelia' -- because he's a real person, did that affect how you played him or how you prepped for the role?
It does in a way ... I've found a great many photographs of him and read about him ... but I [had to] trust that he was in the script. Whenever I've played somebody that's real, I find that photographs ... are really telling to me. When I played James Joyce [in 'Nora'], the pictures of him were very important to the way I acted physically, and I suppose with Gene Vidal it's the same.

Megan Fox reportedly said that you have a tattoo sleeve, is that true?
No. I have a tattoo ... but who's Megan Fox?

She's an actress who's in 'Transformers.' She supposedly was talking about getting a tattoo sleeve herself and she said that you had one.
I have a really large tattoo on my right arm ... It's about my family and where I come from in Scotland ... but it's not a sleeve, no ... not quite a sleeve, but maybe half of one.

You are known for your propensity for on-screen nudity, but it seems like maybe you're stepping back from that ...
[Laughs] It's extraordinary how it comes up. No, not at all, I mean ... I've done nudity when it's been relevant in the films I've been making, you know? I've made films about sexuality, and the sex in the films has been very instrumental to explaining or showing where a character's at ... In films like 'Young Adam,' the sex scenes are really sort of instructive of this young man's moral demise. I'm interested in sexuality and sex as much as anybody else and I find it a part of art, as part of filmmaking and acting because it's a part of life -- a big part of life, I suppose. I've never had a problem with nudity in that it's been relevant to the work that I've done, but I've never gone out of my way to do films with nudity, nor certainly haven't decided not to, or stepped away from it in any way. I mean, I haven't made a film for a while, you know, as centrally focused on sex as I have done in the past, but not for any reason. It just hasn't cropped up, I guess.

Ewan Mcgregor Photos

    NEW YORK - MAY 13: Actor Ewan McGregor leaves the ABC West End Studios May 13, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ewan McGregor

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - MAY 13: Actor Ewan McGregor leaves the ABC West End Studios May 13, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ewan McGregor

    Getty Images

    © BAUER-GRIFFIN.COM Ewan McGregor exits the ABC studios NON-EXCLUSIVE May 13, 2009 Job: 90513P7 New York, New York www.bauergriffin.com www.bauergriffinonline.com

    DISCIULLO/bauergriffinonline.com

    © BAUER-GRIFFIN.COM Ewan McGregor exits the ABC studios NON-EXCLUSIVE May 13, 2009 Job: 90513P7 New York, New York www.bauergriffin.com www.bauergriffinonline.com

    DISCIULLO/bauergriffinonline.com

    © BAUER-GRIFFIN.COM Ewan McGregor exits the ABC studios NON-EXCLUSIVE May 13, 2009 Job: 90513P7 New York, New York www.bauergriffin.com www.bauergriffinonline.com

    DISCIULLO/bauergriffinonline.com

    In this film publicity image released by Columbia Pictures/Sony Entertainment, from left, Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer, Thure Lindhart and Ewan McGregor are shown in a scene from, "Angels & Demons." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures/Sony, Zade Rosenthal) ** NO SALES **

    AP

    In this film publicity image released by Columbia Pictures/Sony Entertainment, Armin Mueller-Stahl , left, and Ewan McGregor are shown in a scene from, "Angels & Demons." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures/Sony, Zade Rosenthal) ** NO SALES **

    AP

    ROME - MAY 04: Actor Ewan McGregor attends the world premiere of 'Angels & Demons' at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on May 4, 2009 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ewan McGregor

    Getty Images

    ROME - MAY 04: Actor Ewan McGregor attends the world premiere of 'Angels & Demons' at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on May 4, 2009 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ewan McGregor

    Getty Images

    ROME - MAY 04: (L-R) Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Dan Brown, Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer, Ewan McGregor, Ron Howard and Thure Lindhardt attend the world premiere of 'Angels & Demons' at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on May 4, 2009 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Tom Hanks;Dan Brown;Ron Howard;Ayelet Zurer;Ewan McGregor

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