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.

32 thoughts on “Happy 40th Birthday Ewan McGregor!

  1. Vanessa

    Ewan is probably my favorite male actor. I’m totally in love with him! Not only is he a great actor, he also sings, plays the guitar, drove around the world on a bike, has been married to one woman forever, he is also incredible versatile (and beautiful).
    I also think moulin rouge was his best role but I will watch him in anything! ❤

    1. and don’t forget that while driving the bike around the world he found a little Mongolian girl in the middle of nowhere and he adopted her and now the little one lives with him and his family!

    2. @ Vanessa, oh I didn’t know he’s your fave. Well, it makes me happy that I paid tribute to him then. I kind of know he’s multi-talented but just from reading his bio for this post I was even more amazed at all the things this guy can do! I admire him for having such a long marriage to the same woman, that is almost unheard of in his business!

      Dezzy, I had no idea that he adopted a Mongolian girl… oh, it makes me like him even more! What a guy indeed.

  2. I was going to do a similar (probably shorter and not as well-written) post today! But we agree on our favorite performance–Christian in Moulin Rouge. Why he hasn’t done another musical is an affront to cinema really.

    I’m most looking forward to Beginners, mostly because he just looks really REALLY good in it. Sometimes, I’m that shallow.

    1. Hey Ryan, you should still do your post, man. You’re a sweetheart for saying this post is well-written. It’s already about 9:30 last night when I realized it’s Ewan’s b’day today.

      Ha..ha… yeah he looks good in Beginners… and Melanie Laurent looks so different from ‘Basterds’ I might give that one a rent.

  3. Ted S.

    Wow I can’t believe he’s 40! He still looks very young, not saying that 40 is old. 🙂

    I think the last movie I saw him in was Angels & Demons, which wasn’t that great. I hated The Island, believe it or not I’ve never seen Moulin Rouge. I hope him and Danny Boyle kiss and make up soon, so they can make a movie together again. I really like Trainspotting.

    1. 40 is NOT old, you got that right 🙂 The Island was terrible, one of Scar Jo’s worth movies as well. Moulin Rouge is fun even if you’re not into musicals, Ted.

  4. Paula

    He is a fine-looking man and talented, always watchable. I just saw him as Father What-a-Waste in Angels & Demons but i think my favorite role of his is as Frank Churchill in Emma. Not the most likable but he played exactly as i thought it should be.

    I agree he should do another musical. A Life Less Ordinary got mostly panned but i liked it.

    If you dig him, definitely check out Long Way Round.

    1. Oh yeah, I remember him in EMMA. He’s so cute but not crazy about that hair. I loooove Jeremy Northam there though, as you already know 🙂

      It’s called ‘Long Way Down’ … and yeah I’ll be sure to look that one up.

  5. I have only seen him in Moulin Rouge, the Star Wars prequels, Blackhawk Down and bits of The Men Who Stare at Goats. He seems like a competent actors but I never thought of him. Maybe he will impress me when I see more of him 🙂

    1. Yeah, I don’t know why sometimes he’d go unnoticed in films. He’s not a complete chameleon where he looks totally different from movie to movie, but I still think he’s quite versatile. He was good in The Ghost Writer even though I thought the movie was rather dull.

  6. Ewan is Aries like me? 🙂 No wonder I adore him so much.
    He will forever remain our dear Christian, the man with the best voice ever! No song will ever sound the same after I heard his singing.
    I’m super excited to see him as the head of the Royal Guard in JACK THE GIAN KILLER! and I’d like to watch the film in which Plummer plays his gay dad 🙂

    1. I know Dezzy, his voice is just sooo good. Yet it’s so natural as he sounds like his speaking voice y’know, you could still tell it’s him singing. Let’s hope he sings in the movies again soon 🙂

  7. Mike

    He’s just one of those really GREAT actors who brings cred to the films he signs on to. EXCEPT for those weak, weak, weak Star Wars movies he sadly signed on to. Boy!

    Is everyone is getting old or something?!?! Ewan is 40?

    Saw the Adjustment Bureau. You were right, it hit a little too close to home. Speaking of which. We’re back on again. She suggested we see it not knowing fully what it was about. Movies should be escapist! lol …

    1. Ahah, yeah the last 3 episodes definitely fall short from the originals don’t they? But I thought he’s good as Obi-Wan.

      I just realized that Gerry is 40 as well, so both of my fave Scottish actors are the same age!

      Hey, glad to hear you’re back on w/ J. Hope a happy ending is in store for you both as well.

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  10. I seem to have a thing for British actors…Ewan, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet have been my favorite actors for the past 10-15 years…and they all just keep getting better!
    Have you seen Velvet Goldmine? Thats another of my fav Ewar roles! He’s also great in Big Fish!

    1. Oh, me too, Vanessa. I was telling someone on another post that 95% of the time, if I see an actor I like and I didn’t know where he’s from, most likely it’s a Brit or Aussie. They’re just much more interesting in general.

      Yeah I saw ‘Velvet’ It’s not my favorite of his work though, though it’s funny seeing him and Christian Bale all glamed up.

      Haven’t seen Big Fish though.

  11. whoa… I love that first picture. he looks so handsome.

    Trainspotting kinda makes me a bit ‘ilfil’ with him, He looks so weird in that movie…and I am not accustom in seeing naked man.

    I haven’t seen a lot of his movies yet; my favorite one, so far, is in Ghost writer.

    PS. Hehehe I want to know your opinion on my newest Monthly Murphy post 😉

    1. He..he.. that’s why I picked that one Nov. Ewan is really photogenic, hardly ever takes a bad picture, just like your Cillian.

      Ahah, ‘ilfil’ is right Nov, I’m not into that one either, nor Velvet Goldmine despite Christian Bale being in it as well and they’re both so gorgeous in it.

      Ghost Writer is a bit boring IMO, but his performance is indeed very good.

      I’ve left you a comment on your Murphy post, what a beautiful man 😉

  12. Happy Birthday Ewan! I enjoy your films very much! Especially The Island (with my movie wife, Scarlett)…regardless of what Ruth and others say! 😉

    Didn’t know he was a motorcyclist! I like him even more now! And I agree with you Ruth, I tend to like his performance in Moulin Rouge the most too!

    1. Sorry T, but I generally don’t have nice things to say about Michael Bay’s flicks.

      Thanks for the kind words about the header. Even though it’s still cold here and there’s even a threat of snow, I’m gonna be defiant and say Spring has arrived!! 🙂

  13. Great write-up! I have to admit, I too have only seen a few of his films. Though, I had no idea he was in the running for the lead role in “The Beach.” I did enjoy that film with DiCaprio, nevertheless. Here’s to Mr. McGregor , happy birthday! 🙂

    1. Hi filmgurl, welcome to FC! Yeah, he had a good relationship with Danny Boyle at the time apparently, I think he’d have been great in it but certainly Leo was huge at the time post Titanic so he could’ve had any role he wanted. In any case, I do hope they’d work together again in the future (McGregor and Boyle I mean).

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