Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Three Steps to McGregor...

...One: Musical Ewan


Moulin Rouge! may have showcased his vocal abilities to best and most acclaimed effect so far, but back in 1993 when he was starting out Ewan forswore the Suez Crisis for girls and guitars in Dennis Potter’s musical-drama TV throwback Lipstick on Your Collar. The first time I saw him in anything he was shrugging off clerk work and leaping on his desk in gold Elvis get-up miming to ‘Don’t Be Cruel’. And of course four years later the karaoke resurfaced in A Life Less Ordinary, where Ewan’s spontaneous serenading of Cameron Diaz was the only thing that wasn’t lifeless and ordinary. Belting out the tunes came second to his lascivious Iggy Pop-meets-Kurt Cobain routines in Velvet Goldmine, but he gamely sang every song himself. He’s an under-praised cinematic crooner – it’s one of his most dependable attributes.

Come What May, Ewan is always glad to flex his vocal chords on celluloid.

...Two: Ballsy Ewan


As much as Ewan seems to frequently like getting his tackle out, he also seems equally unafraid to take on gay roles. He likes setting his characters’ sexuality free on screen. Four gay roles in a forty-feature career isn’t that many, but it’s more than what most of his peers seem willing to take on. And how venturous and open he is with it, too: he was an open bi book for both Yoshi Oida and Vivian Wu in The Pillow Book; there was the Wild and roughed-up rooftop nookie with Christian Bale in Velvet Goldmine; in Scenes of a Sexual Nature he cruised one long, sunny day away on Hampstead Heath; and in the recent drama-comedy anomaly I Love You Phillip Morris he bunked with Jim Carrey. Ewan is au fait with playing gay. He not only doesn’t seem fazed by it as a factor in choosing parts, he also carries it out with aplomb. In fact he does it in an unabashedly liberating manner: for each of these characters the closet door was flung wide open (check his levity levels on being reunited with Carrey in a crowded jail in Phillip Morris or the flippant way he disregards the social strictures of the ‘70s in Goldmine).

As an actor – and in his own small way – he’s making an affirmative impact from the outside in.

...Three: Smiley Ewan


Drug happy, love happy, dance happy; happy high, happy heart, happy Feet. Ewan has one of the happiest faces in cinema (check out his IMDb photo for proof). And directors love capturing it on screen: Danny Boyle framed Ewan’s drug-placated grin during his heroin highs in the flophouses of Trainspotting; thanks to the magical sheen Baz Luhrmann sprinkled over the Moulin Rouge, Ewan’s face literally lit up upon entering Nicole Kidman’s Paris of 1899; and it may have been Down with Love but he was Up with Joy for Renée Zellweger in ‘60s New York. The places change, but the face remains the same: blissed out with glee. Despite furrowing his brow in a generous handful of the more serious roles that have peppered his filmography – in sci-fi-fantasy (Star Wars prequels, The Island), gritty Brit flicks (Young Adam, Incendiary) and action-drama vehicles (Black Hawk Down, Angels & Demons) – it’s the lighter, cheerier fare in which he endears the most. He works an audience well when he throws a smile down from the silver screen.

So, say ‘cheese’ Mr. Ewan McGregor, it’s your (birthday) party – you’ll smile if you want to.
*

17 comments:

Chris Na Taraja said...

This is truly great Nat. Making me remember how many really good flicks he is in.....but, you left out one face of Ewan, the one from SHALLOW GRAVE.

That creepy little flick is one of my favorite Ewan moments. I guess this can fit in to smiling Ewan, especially because of that brilliant final scene with the knife, right?

Fernando Moss said...

Love him and the fact we share birthdays hehe...

But seriously I think he is very underrated and underused...

James T said...

Happy birthday Ewan and Fernando! :)


Sometimes I wish I were more of an actorsexual. I like many actors but I love only a few.

Sarah said...

I adore Ewan. Thank you for giving him a fine birthday tribute.

Anonymous said...

Great Tribute!

I'm looking forward THE GHOST opening...love Roman Polanski and I read several very good things about Ewan in the movie...unfortunately in the film we won't see him smiling often, anyway...

mirko

NATHANIEL R said...

Chris-- i know. But thank Craig. He's the new contributor. I enjoy him very much ;)

Happy Birthday Fernando!!!!

James T agreed.

Simon said...

I hope he does another musical. And works on his American accent.

Derreck said...

I love, love Ewan McGregor!!

It's impossible not to fall in love with him when you hear him sing in Moulin Rouge. He just had such a pure voice. Who wouldn't want him to belt out 'Your Song' for them? He pretty much kicked Elton John's version to the curb. i still listen to it every now and then on my iPod.

and Nat is spot on when it comes to that shining smile. :) I love how he's so charismatic and pretty much game for anything.

Plus, who doesn't like a guy who has no problem talking his kilt off? More power to him.

Angie said...

Ohhh I loooove Ewan! He's my celeb-crush for sure. Not only am I lusty for him, but I respect his career and talent.

Alexis said...

The best thing about Ewan McGregor,I have to say is his his eyes ...If there's one Actor today who knows how to express through his eyes its him,especially when he's playing someone a bit naive like in Moulin Rouge or Big Fish i love how he can use just his eyes and we get to know so much about the character.

billybil said...

God I love Ewan McGregor but the size of his "talent" scares me!

vg21 said...

I just saw Men Who Stare at Goats and realised I hadn't seen Ewan for a long, long time in a film. He is really good in that too, though the film still needs processing:). He is really talented, I would love to see him on stage! Also, can't wait for The Ghost Writer to come out.

Alice Chuang said...

Favorite, favorite, actor.

Janice said...

Great post, Nat. He's someone of whom I keep thinking "what the hell happened to his career?" I mean, when you look at how great he was in Trainspotting - he said he wouldn't do the big-budget Hollywood shit but he did and I think it was a big mistake (other than Moulin Rouge, but that's not in the same "big budget" league as, say, The Island.) I guess he's more interested in driving round the world on his motorcycle and that's cool but I wish he were a little more interested in his career because I'd love to see more of him onscreen. (Ah well - maybe a Showtime series, like I keep recommending for the ladies?) I think maybe the income from Star Wars made him "too rich to care" about having to act, but I miss him nonetheless. Angels & Demons and Amelia are such a waste of his considerable talent (in both senses of the word.)

Chris Na Taraja said...

oooops Faux pas! Thanks Craig!

Craig Bloomfield said...

Hey no probs, Chris. Glad you enjoyed it.

Less Lee said...

Thank you for mentioning his happy face! He's got one of the best smiles ever.