Ewan Gordon MacGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi)
Born March 31, 1971
The MacGregor Connection:
A true MacGregor
Ewan is a Scottish actor. His first professional role was in 1993, when he won a leading role in the Channel 4 series Lipstick on Your Collar. He is best known for his roles as heroin addict Mark Renton in the drama Trainspotting (1996), the young Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999–2005), poet Christian in the musical film Moulin Rouge! (2001), and Dr. Alfred Jones in the romantic comedy-drama Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011).
He received Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy for both Moulin Rouge! and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. McGregor has also starred in theatre productions of Guys and Dolls (2005–07) and Othello (2007–08). He was ranked No. 36 on Empire magazine’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time” list in 1997. In 2010 he won Best Actor for playing the title role in Roman Polanski’s film The Ghost Writer at the 23rd European Film Awards.
McGregor was born in Perth, Scotland and brought up in Crieff. His mother, Carol Diane (née Lawson), is a retired teacher of Crieff High School and latterly deputy head teacher of Kingspark School in Dundee. His father, James Charles Stewart “Jim” McGregor, is a retired physical education teacher and careers master of Morrison’s Academy, Crieff. He has an older brother, Colin (b. 1966), who is a former Tornado GR4 pilot in the Royal Air Force. He is the nephew of actor Denis Lawson (who also appeared in the Star Wars franchise, as Rebel Alliance pilot Wedge Antilles) and actress Sheila Gish, and the step-cousin of actress Lou Gish on his mother’s side of the family. McGregor attended the independent Morrison’s Academy in Crieff. After leaving school, at the age of 16, he worked as a stagehand at Perth Repertory Theatre and studied a foundation course in drama at Kirkcaldy College of Technology, before moving to London to study drama at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama when he was 18 years old.
In 1993, six months prior to his graduation from Guildhall, McGregor won a leading role in Dennis Potter’s six-part Channel 4 series Lipstick on Your Collar. The same year, he starred in the BBC adaptation of Scarlet and Black with a young Rachel Weisz, and made his film debut in Bill Forsyth’s Being Human. In 1994, McGregor performed in the thriller Shallow Grave, for which he won an Empire Award, and which marked his first collaboration with director Danny Boyle. His international breakthrough followed in 1996 with the role of heroin addict Mark Renton in Boyle’s Trainspotting, an adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same name.
McGregor played the male romantic lead role in the 1998 British film Little Voice. In 1999, McGregor starred in the blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role originally made famous by Sir Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars trilogy. His uncle, Denis Lawson, had played Wedge Antilles in the original trilogy. In 2001, he starred in Moulin Rouge! as the young poet Christian, who falls in love with the terminally-ill courtesan Satine, played by Nicole Kidman. McGregor reprised his role of Obi-Wan Kenobi for the subsequent prequel Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones in 2002. In 2003, he starred alongside Renée Zellweger in Down With Love. He also portrayed the younger Edward Bloom in the critically acclaimed film Big Fish alongside Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman and Billy Crudup. During that year, he also received critical acclaim for his portrayal of an amoral drifter mixed up with murder in the drama Young Adam, which co-starred Tilda Swinton.
In 2005, McGregor appeared for the final time as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. He took very special care—especially in Revenge of the Sith—to ensure that his portrayal of Obi-Wan’s mannerisms, speech timings and accents closely resembled Alec Guinness’ version. That same year, McGregor voiced two successful animated features; he played the robot Rodney Copperbottom in Robots, which also featured the voices of Halle Berry and Robin Williams, and he voiced the lead character in Gary Chapman’s Valiant, alongside Jim Broadbent, John Cleese and Ricky Gervais. Also in 2005, McGregor played two roles—one a clone of the other—opposite Scarlett Johansson in Michael Bay’s science fiction action thriller film The Island. He also headlined Marc Forster’s 2005 film Stay, a psychological thriller co-starring Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling.
In 2006, he narrated the Fulldome production Astronaut, created for the National Space Centre. That same year, he also narrated the STV show JetSet, a six-part series following the lives of trainee pilots and navigators at RAF Lossiemouth as they undergo a gruelling six-month course learning to fly the Tornado GR4, the RAF’s primary attack aircraft. In 2007, McGregor starred opposite Colin Farrell in the Woody Allen film Cassandra’s Dream. In 2009, he co-starred with Jim Carrey in I Love You Phillip Morris and appeared in Amelia alongside Hilary Swank. Also in 2009, he portrayed Camerlengo Patrick McKenna in Angels & Demons, the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel of the same name. McGregor is scheduled to co-star with Daniel Craig in Dan Harris’ upcoming film adaptation of Glen Duncan’s novel I, Lucifer. At the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival, he was awarded with the SIFF Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting.
In 2012, he was named as a member of the Jury for the Main Competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. At the San Sebastián International Film Festival, he was awarded the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award and became the youngest recipient of the award.
In 2015, he starred in the film Mortdecai, alongside Johnny Depp, Olivia Munn, and Paul Bettany.
On 21 April 2015, it was announced that McGregor would play Lumiere in the live-action version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, directed by Bill Condon. He joins a cast that includes Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (Beast/Prince), Luke Evans (Gaston), Josh Gad (Lefou), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Kevin Kline (Maurice) and Audra McDonald (Garderobe). Filming began in May 2015 at Shepperton Studios in London. The film is scheduled to be released in March 2017.
In 2017, he will reprise his role as Mark Renton in T2: Trainspotting 2.
From November 1998 to March 1999, McGregor starred as Malcolm Scrawdyke in a production of David Halliwell’s Little Malcolm and His Struggles Against the Eunuchs, directed by his uncle, Denis Lawson. The play was first staged at the Hampstead Theatre before transferring to the Comedy Theatre in London’s West End. In November 2001, McGregor made a cameo appearance in The Play What I Wrote.
From June 2005 to April 2007, McGregor starred alongside Jane Krakowski, Douglas Hodge and Jenna Russell in the original Donmar Warehouse production of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre in London. He played the leading role of Sky Masterson, made famous by Marlon Brando in the film of the same name. McGregor received the LastMinute.com award for Best Actor for his performance in 2005, and he was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2007.
From December 2007 to February 2008, McGregor starred as Iago in Othello at the Donmar Warehouse alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor as Othello and Kelly Reilly as Desdemona. He reprised the role on BBC Radio 3 in May 2008.
A motorcyclist since his youth, McGregor undertook a marathon international motorbike trip with his best friend Charley Boorman and cameraman Claudio von Planta in 2004. From mid-April to the end of July, they travelled from London to New York via central Europe, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Canada and the United States on BMW R1150GS Adventure motorbikes, for a cumulative distance of 22,345 miles (35,960 km). The trip included visits to several UNICEF programs along the route, and formed the basis of a television series and a best-selling book, both called Long Way Round.
The Long Way Round team reunited in 2007 for another motorcycle trip from John o’ Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa. The journey, entitled Long Way Down, lasted from 12 May until 5 August 2007. McGregor’s brother Colin joined the motorcycle team during the early stages of the Long Way Down journey, and his father Jim also rode on sections of both Long Way Round and Long Way Down.
McGregor appeared in a two-part BBC documentary in April 2012 entitled Ewan McGregor: Cold Chain Mission in which he travels by motorbike, boat, plane and foot to deliver vaccines to children in remote parts of India, Nepal and the Republic of Congo. The trip was part of his work as a UNICEF Ambassador.
In a June 2015 interview, McGregor indicated that a long discussed South American trip with Boorman was still in the planning stages, but he expected that an excursion through Baja California Peninsula would take place first.
McGregor has been married since 1995 to Eve Mavrakis, a French production designer, whom he met on the set of Kavanagh QC. They have four daughters: Clara Mathilde McGregor (b. 1996), Esther Rose McGregor (b. 2001), Jamyan McGregor (b. 2001), and Anouk McGregor (b. 2011). In 2006, McGregor and his wife adopted Jamyan from Mongolia, where he spent time during the Long Way Round journey in 2004. McGregor has a heart and dagger tattoo of the names of his wife and daughters on his right arm. The family currently resides in Los Angeles, California after moving from London.
McGregor is involved in charity work, including with UNICEF and GO Campaign. During the Long Way Round journey in 2004, McGregor and his travelling companions saw some of UNICEF’s work in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, and during the Long Way Down trip in 2007, he and Charley Boorman did work for UNICEF in Africa. McGregor hosted the annual Hollywood gala for GO Campaign in 2009 and 2010. He has also worked with the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, as featured in Long Way Down. In 2012, McGregor travelled with UNICEF immunisation workers to remote parts of India, Nepal and the Republic of Congo for a BBC2 documentary entitled Ewan McGregor: Cold Chain Mission.
In June 2015, McGregor read Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl” for the children’s fairytales app GivingTales in aid of UNICEF, together with Sir Roger Moore, Stephen Fry, Joan Collins, Joanna Lumley, Michael Caine, David Walliams, Charlotte Rampling and Paul McKenna.
In 2007, on an episode of Parkinson, McGregor stated that he had given up alcohol after a period where he was arguably a functioning alcoholic, and that he had not had a drink in seven years. In 2008, he had a cancerous mole removed from underneath his right eye.