Happy 40th Birthday Ewan McGregor!

One of my favorite Scottish actors Ewan McGregor turns 40 today! Boy, he still looks so youthful. He certainly ages well and is still busier than ever!

I’ve only seen about a dozen of his work, which sounds like a lot but it’s only a quarter of the number of films he’s churned out. Ewan (his first name is pronounced “you-an”) is a hugely prolific actor. In the last decade alone, from 2000 – 2010, he’s starred in no less than twenty five films (and that’s not counting voice work in animated feature like ROBOTS).

Ewan with his motorcycle expedition partner Charley Boorman

It’s amazing how this married father of three finds the time to do those and still have the energy to embarked on a motorcycle trip around the world, chronicled in a documentary titled Long Way Down.

He consistently churn out good performances even if the movies aren’t necessarily good (i.e. The Island, Cassandra’s Dream). Yet given his versatility, I’d say he’s quite under-appreciated. I mean, some of the roles he’s played run the run the gamut from heroin addict (Trainspotting), glam rock star (Velvet Goldmine), lovesick writer (Moulin Rogue!), a Jedi Master (Star Wars episode I-III), all the way to a Catholic Cardinal. At least two of those (Renton and Obi-Wan Kenobi) are such iconic roles most people would perhaps remember him from.

Ewan as the penniless writer in Moulin Rouge!

My number one favorite of all his roles has got to be Christian in Moulin Rogue! where he sang up a storm with his gorgeous voice. He’s on the top of the list of actors who are surprisingly good singers… he’s so good that I wish he’d just produce an album already!

He’s never looked so good and romantic in a movie! I think his performance is as strong as Nicole Kidman’s but for whatever reason he didn’t win a Golden Globe while Nicole won for Best Actress. The Academy also failed to nominate him alongside Nicole that year, though I certainly think his performance was Oscar-worthy. Anyway, here’s one of my favorite scene in the movie where Christian sang ‘Your Song’ to Satine with his mesmerizing performance.

Apparently he auditioned for the role of Mercutio in the 1996 Baz Luhrmann’s modernized Shakespeare version of Romeo + Juliet, but the role went to Leonardo DiCaprio instead. That’s not the only time he’s lost out to Leo for a role. According to IMDb trivia, he was originally up for the lead role in The Beach (2000), which would have reunited him with director Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge who collaborated with McGregor on three movies, Shallow Grave (1994), Trainspotting (1996) and A Life Less Ordinary (1997). But the role went to Leo again. While McGregor blames studio influence for the casting decision he has not spoken to either Boyle nor Hodge since.

He’s got a few new movies in the works and to be released this year, including a rumored role in Jack the Giant Killer. But the one I’m looking forward to is Haywire, a Steven Soderbergh action thriller out this August with Michael Fassbender as his co-star. I better add that to the my Most Anticipated 2011 Movies list!

So here’s wishing Mr. McGregor a wonderful birthday and hope he spends it doing what he loves most.

Surely you’ve seen at least one of his movies. Please share your favorite Ewan McGregor’s role.