Ewan McGregor gets to do his fair share of swashbuckling in this weekend's "Jack the Giant Slayer.” As Elmont, the leader of the king’s guard, he's unexpectedly helped by a farm boy named Jack (Nicholas Hoult), who proves to be a surprisingly resourceful ally in the fight against an evil race of giants. Here, battles are fought, princesses and kingdoms are saved, and along the way, there's heroism and beanstalk-climbing galore.
McGregor spoke to Moviefone about channeling Errol Flynn for the role, coming up with the look for his character, and whether or not he's game to return to the "Star Wars" universe.
Moviefone: You make a very dashing knight.
McGregor: Well, thank you very much.
What made you want to do this movie?
I just thought there was a real humor in the script that caught my fancy. It's not often you get the opportunity to play this kind of classic, Errol Flynn-type role. They're few and far between, with that element of humor in there as well. It was just too good an opportunity to pass on.
Does this mean we'll see more swashbuckling in your future?
Well, I don't know. We'll have to see if people think I did a good job with it. I'm no stranger to a sword fight here and there with the old "Star Wars" films. So we'll see what happens.
Is it more fun playing a fairy tale knight or a Jedi knight?
There was something great about playing both. You can't really compare, they're so very, very different styles of movies. The armor that I get to wear as Elmont -- although it was quite cumbersome and awkward to wear and very difficult to climb a beanstalk in -- looked fantastic and I was very happy. In many ways, I've been waiting all my life to wear some black leather, biker-studded armor like that.
It was very cool. Did you have any input into designing the costume?
A little bit. There's some kind of leather stamps on the front that are highlighted in silver; I've got a tattoo on my arm and we took some of the elements from my tattoo and copied them on there.
What about the rather edgy haircut and the waxed mustache?
Once the mustache was long enough to do that with, we started waxing the ends. It's just the kind of classic [look]. We had the luxury of having to make it period, in that it has to be in this sort of medieval time, but at the same time, we twisted it. Nick is wearing a hoodie with a logo on the front, so because it's a fantasy, we had the freedom to do things like that. The beard is probably quite standard for that period, but the hair is certainly not. We just took poetic license with it.
What do you think has changed in making a big special-effects movie since you did the "Star Wars" films?
What we had in this film that I don't think we had at all in making the "Star Wars" films was motion capture. That didn't really exist properly back then, or maybe a very crude form of it did. All of the giants were actors who acted out these scenes in a motion-capture environment.
Were you on the same set as Bill Nighy, who plays the lead giant, or were you doing scenes separately?
We did do some stuff with them, yes. Early on, we were. I love Bill. I wanted very much to work with him for a long time and it was a great opportunity. Sadly, we didn't really have any scenes together because he was a giant and I wasn't. So I'm hoping it's the first of more films that we might do together.
Is there a dream role you'd love to play?
I never really know until I've read it, you know? I don't commission work, so I just wait to read it. I hope there's many, many roles I haven't played yet. We just have to wait and see what they are.
So there's no wish list?
No. There's no point. Well, that's not true, there's one character I'm slightly obsessed with: Mallory, who climbed Everest in the 1920s. It's still not known [exactly what happened to him]. He died on Everest on the third attempt to summit the mountain, and his body was found in '96 or '98. They don't know if he made it to the top or not. His camera is missing and he was climbing with a second man, whose body was never found. They think if they ever do discover the second body, with the camera, it would be so well-preserved that there might be photographic evidence that he did, in fact, make it to the top or not. We don't know. It's a mystery to this day. He's slightly younger than me -- he was 39 when he died. I think he's a real hero of our times. So I would be interested to play him.
[Editor’s note: Tom Hardy is attached to play Mallory in a film for "Bourne Identity" director Doug Liman]
You've been focusing on more realistic films like "Beginners" and "The Impossible" lately. Did you make a conscious effort to do less green-screen after the "Star Wars" films?
No, I finished making the "Stars Wars" film many years ago. It didn't take me 10 years to get over the green-experience, no. We shot the last one in 2003.
Would you like to be a part of the new "Star Wars" films?
Sure, if they need me. Yeah, yeah. I haven't been approached about them at all, but if they need me, I'll be happy to talk to them about it.