The Boyfriend of the Week
January 22, 2002
This week's Boyfriend, Mr. Ewan McGregor, has been sort of been hanging out in the back of my mind for quite a long time. I haven't seen any of his recent movies (like "Moulin Rouge," for example), so if you were just about to pound out an email message asking me what I thought of his singing, you can just hold it right there, pal. Having not seen it, the very idea makes the mind boggle. Obi Wan can sing? Who'da thunk? And, more importantly, how badly do I want to witness this? Answer: well, to be honest, not badly enough (*duck*).
BUT WAIT! Before you NOW set out to zip off an email message asking me what the heck my problem is, let me just answer that question for you right now and save you the trouble: I hate musicals! There are a few exceptions to this rule ("Annie" leaps right to mind), but the key word in that declaration is "few." I haven't seen a "modern" musical that I've liked since "Starlight Express," and I'm not even entirely sure if that counts (I think there was singing, but really all I remember is the swanky roller skates -- I was a pre-teen, after all. Swanky skates were hip). But if it doesn't, that only furthers my point. Musicals are only good on video, when you can fast-forward through the song-and-dance of the songs and dancing. And, from what I hear about "Moulin," if you fast forward through those parts, you don't have a heck of a whole lot left.
Unless you're a Nicole Kidman fan, in which case what you have left is a heck of a whole lot of shots of her wearing fancy underpants. Hoo woo!
So, please take note: I don't want to hear about how lame or wrong or stupid or misguided I am about "Moulin Rouge." I don't want to see it! I just don't! And it has nothing to do with you, personally. There's no reason to get mad. It's not an attempt to put down musical fans (or even fans of musicals). There are just a few things in this world that I try hard to avoid: kleenex, cell phones, split infinitives, the French (no offense to the French), and musicals. Everybody's got their own list -- I see no reason to try to hide this charater flaw.
Especially since, at least in this case, it's not a hindrance to happiness. Ewan's not exactly the biggest musical star I know. He's not a professional singer or dancer or banjo player. He only plays one on TV (well, not the banjo player -- yet). You can find PLENTY to love about Ewan McGregor without having to love musicals. Trust me -- I'm living, drooling proof! Because I love plenty about Ewan. I even love his bad movies. I even love his sometimes a bit nasty attitude about things. I even love his musicals (well, you know, from a distance).
Now, I'm sure there are anti-Ewan people out there right now who, to be honest, probably haven't even read down this far. And I can sort of understand that. Sort of. Because, well, for one thing, when you first look at him, "Wow, he's handsome" may not be the first phrase that comes to mind. Instead, for example, that first phrase might be, "What is that thing on his forehead?" But hey, you can just stop that right now, bucko. Because I'll tell you something -- after you've looked at Ewan McGregor as much as I have, which is LOTS, you'll come to realize what I have (well, if you're smart you will): that mole on his forehead is downright sexy. On a woman, they'd call it a beauty mark -- it makes him stand out, look different. And, the absolute best thing about it? It would be a cinch to have it removed and yet, there it still is. What this says about Ewan's personality is worth far, far more to me than a bump-free forehead. And what it says is this: the man's so hip he has trouble seeing over his pelvis. (Name that alien!)
But what I really love about Ewan, aside from his messy hair, crooked smile, "beauty mark," and FABULOUS accent ("if it's not Scottish, it's CRAP!"), is his remarkable talent. I have to admit I haven't seen a ton of Ewan's movies. But I have yet to see one he stunk in, even when it's been a movie with some serious script problems (like, "Nightwatch") or one with some serious problems in general (like, "Serpent's Kiss" (I still can't believe I spent money on that one)).
Of course, everybody by now must have seen Ewan as Ben "Obi Wan" Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel, "The Phantom Menace." And was it just me or did he not truly rule in that movie? I heard lots of negative stuff about him playing Obi -- something about how he thought it was beneath him. But he was just perfect -- even sounded just like Alec Guiness to me, and not just because they have similar accents.
But even before Ewan ruled the galaxy, he was in several other truly great films. The first was "Trainspotting," one of the greatest, most realistic movies about heroin addiction I've ever seen. Granted, it's not a movie for everyone. I wouldn't rent it with my mom, for example (remember that scene about the heroin suppository? Moms don't need to see that kind of thing). And there's also the slight problem of the thick accents. You have to want to understand them to understand them, because even though, technically, they are all speaking English (though I'm totally not convinced), I must say it's truly a movie that would benefit greatly from a few subtitles thrown in here and there. I've seen it three or four times now and I'm still not sure I've translated a few of the scenes correctly. Fer fook's sake. But man, of all Ewan's movies, I will say without hesitation that this one is the best. You want to see some powerful, honest acting, this is the film for you.
And then, on the other side of the spectrum, what you have is a movie like "Shallow Grave," which I just rented for the first time since it was in theaters. I did this despite the fact that after I saw it in the theater, I swore I would NEVER watch that movie EVER again (two weeks of nightmares will do that to you). This is a promise I reiterated when I featured ex-Boyfriend Christopher Eccleston on this page. But heck, people, I really felt like now that it was going to star TWO Boyfriends of the Week, it was my job, nay, my DUTY, to watch this movie again for you.
And about "Shallow Grave," I have this to say: it's great! It's no "Trainspotting" -- there's no message, no uplifting finale. But I had forgotten (blacked out, really) how funny it was, how clever. Ewan's character is a real bastard, in one of those charming prankster kinds of ways (sort of like a grungier Hawkeye Pierce with a nasty side). And the movie, while still being as twisted and violent as I remember, is actually very suspenseful. The violence didn't really bother me as much this time, either. In fact, I was surprised when I saw it just how blase my reaction was this time around. Guess I've just seen too many worse things in the movies since those days. Or else I've started to be more freaked out by suggested violence (like in "Blair Witch") than gratuitious violence. Either way, I'm not sure this is something to boast about, so I'll just shuddup now.
Anyway, where was I? "Shallow Grave," right. Good movie. And another example of Ewan doing a good job and having a good time. And, did I mention that scene when he's in his underpants? They're those cute li'l underpants that are sort of a cross between boxers and briefs, you know what I mean? I like those. Sigh. Yep. Like 'em a lot.
Other movies I've seen of Ewan's have varied from really good to really, really bad. But hey, that's not all that unusual. Even Robert Redford has made some dogs, right? Doesn't keep us from lovin' him, right? (No, what keeps us from lovin' him is those icky close-ups of his BAD skin in "Spy Game" -- let this be a lesson to you all NOW before it's too late: stay out of the sun!). Anyway, I thought to keep this somewhat short, I'd just quickly sum up the other movies of his I've seen (it's not many -- he's made some kooky ones I still haven't had the guts to rent yet). That way, you have a bit of a guide for your own trip to the video rental shop this weekend. Should you feel so moved. Which you should.
1. "Eye of the Beholder" -- kinda lame, but not unwatchable movie featuring Ewan the Stalker stalking Ashley Judd (subject of a major girl-crush on my part).
2. "Nightwatch" -- thriller featuring Nick Nolte and Ewan the Morgue Nightwatchman, neither of whom, apparently, actually read the script before signing their contracts.
3. "The Serpent's Kiss" -- I have NO IDEA what this movie was about. Kept nodding off. But I should've known better when I realized it featured Ewan the French Weirdo. No offense to the French.
4. "Brassed Off" -- absolutely sweet and wonderful romantic comedy featuring Ewan, Member of the Brass Section. Trumpets and dopey grins -- life is good.
5. That One ER Episode -- a truly great hour of television featuring Nurse Hathaway trapped in a mini mart after Ewan the Dumb Petty Criminal tries to hold the place up. Unfortunately not available on video, though I think ER reruns on TNT about 30 times a day now, so you're bound to catch it if you pay attention.Anyway, as you can see, the list is short. And, 3 out of the 5 were less than spectacular. Oh wait, I'm leaving out the movies I mentioned above -- "Phantom Menace" (thumbs down for the movie as a whole, thumbs up for Ewan the Jedi Knight), "Trainspotting" (Ewan the Junkie With Heart), and "Shallow Grave" (Ewan the Guy With the Knife in His Shoulder -- ow. I mean, seriously, OW.). So, really, it's more like 4 out of 7 that were tending towards the "bad" side of things. Or wait, 5 out of 8? Man, it's late. You count 'em.
Seriously, though, the important thing isn't really the statistics (especially since one "Trainspotting" is worth a thousand "Serpent's Smooches"). It's the fact that Ewan McGregor is a really cool guy. He can play a wide variety of characters -- crazed stalker to Jedi Knight is quite a turnaround, if you ask me. But the thing I really like about Ewan on film is that even though his characters are very different, there is always that little bit of him that stays the same. It's a look -- a gleam in his eye, maybe -- sort of semi-smirky, but very intelligent. A look that surely is saying to us all, "Damn, I am having a REALLY good time right now." I really like that in an actor. I like it when they can sink into someone else and stay themselves a bit too. It's not a technique for everyone or for every role, but it sure works out great for Ewan.
Anyway, let's get down to business and crank out a little biography on Obi Wan: Ewan Gordon McGregor was born on March 31, 1971 in Crieff, Scotland. When he was 16, his parents told him he could leave school to pursue acting if he thought that was what would make him happy (lovely and daring parents, don't you think?), so he packed up his stuff and joined the Perth Repertory Theatre. He then spent a few years in and out of various acting schools, until he finally snagged a few roles that got him some attention (the first of the films ones being the role of Alex Law in "Shallow Grave").
After "Trainspotting," however, Ewan really started to get noticed by critics and filmmakers alike. And, since this is getting a bit long and you guys all know how to search the web if you want more information, let's just skip ahead to present day, when he's starring in all three of the "Star Wars: The Next Generation" movies, which will probably all turn out to be massively popular Hollywood hits. Thanks, in no small part, to a few incredible talents like Ewan's. (He's so cute when he wields that lightsaber!)
Some interesting trivia: he's married and has at least one kid. But let's not hold that against him, since I'm also married and I have a cat. And hey, even more interesting is this: before he met his wife, he used to live with ex-Boyfriend Jude Law and if picturing the two of them together in one room isn't enough to make you want to cry, you probably don't belong here. Anyway, he and Jude later put together their own production company called "Natural Nylon," which they hope to use to make non-Hollywood films that, one hopes, will not involve a lot of singing and dancing. The site I read about this didn't mention any titles, so I'm unclear on whether or not the company has been a success, but I have little doubt that Ewan and Jude can fail. At ANYTHING.
Incidentally, did you know Ewan was originally supposed to be cast as the lead in "The Beach"? And that when he didn't get the part, he was so mad he quit talking to director Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting" and "Shallow Grave") for good? Kind of ludicrous, don't you think? I mean, to be (brutally) honest -- that was an unoriginal piece of junk based on an book that wasn't all that great to begin with. But hey, everybody has their little personality flaws -- there's no need to get all stuck up about Ewan just because he's made a few silly choices or decisions. Or been jealous of a role that Leonardo DiCaprio got. Puh-lease. Like Leo has ANYTHING on Ewan McGregor. Dude, Ewan could so totally kick Leo's butt. It's not even worth thinking about. (Though I'll admit the image IS making me giggle a little.)
And, one last little bit of cool trivia: Ewan has always said he was inspired to become an actor by his uncle, Denis Lawson. Small-Worldly enough, fans of the original Star Wars series will recognize Lawson as the actor who played "Wedge Antilles" in those movies. Coincidence or karma? You be the judge!
Up next for Ewan are the next two Star Wars movies, both of which are already in production (the second one is actually due out soon -- there are even people starting to camp out around one of my town's big theaters in anticipation of its release, if you can believe it). But he's got a little bit more on his plate in addition to the Jedi movies -- the first is "Black Hawk Down," which is coming out this week, I think. It's a movie based on a book that I haven't read but that I've heard is pretty great. And I'm always up for a war movie, especially since it's got Josh Hartnett in it and if I don't feature him soon, you guys are going to KILL me. After that one comes a film called "Young Adam." Unfortunately, there isn't any information about that one on the IMDB site, so for now, we'll just have to entertain ourselves with speculation.
Or, even better, with a quick run to the video store for a few rentals. And, I might as well say it, you guys will probably convince me to rent "Moulin Rouge" -- either because so many of you will email me about how much you loved it that I'll grow curious OR because so many of you will email me about how much you loved it that I'll grow tired of hearing about it and rent it just to STOP THE MADNESS. You win both ways, though, right? Maybe if somebody just described the plot to me, I'd become intrigued? And in the meantime, on my list for the immediate future is two of the movies I've missed: "Velvet Goldmine" and "A Life Less Ordinary." A little Ewan, a nice dinner, and a rainy evening. Yeah, I think I can make some time for that.
MacGyver Factor Score: 96.578%. I'm taking points off just because of the whole married-with-a-baby thing. I feel I must. It just doesn't make sense to fall in love with a married person. And it makes even LESS sense to do so now that I'm married myself. Bachelors are better -- it's easier to train them when they're blank slates. However, I'm not going to hold this against Ewan anymore than I hold it against myself. As you guys know, I'm not asking for a long-term committment here. Essentially, all I'm asking for is a week of seeing his face when I open my web browser and an excuse to rent a bunch of his movies ("research," ca va?) and chat with some of his other fans. As I said before, life is good. Even when you're married.
Update: I have finally gotten around to renting "Moulin Rouge." To see what I thought about it, click here!.
A Fan Site Full of Pictures
The Ewan McGregor Shrine
The Official Black Hawk Down site
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