Ewan McGregor is the droll but touching hero of Beginners, one of the summer’s most beloved films. In our video chat, he talked about how he prepared to play his character, based on the film’s writer/director – he wore the guy’s clothes ! – why he loves working in indie films, why he rode a roller coaster with Melanie Laurent and went scarf-shopping with Christopher Plummer.
In Mike Mills’ autobiographical story, McGregor’s character is more exotically named Oliver, and Plummer plays his father, who came out as gay in his 70’s and died a few years later. Inspired by his father’s late-life bravery, emotionally resistant Oliver begins a profound, passionate yet delicate relationship with an actress played by Laurent. As the film flashes back and forth in time, McGregor’s complex yet subtle performance holds the pieces together, with Oliver traveling through shock, grief and infatuation to arrive at love.
From the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in three Star Wars movies to the journalist who stumbles into international intrigue in The Ghost Writer, McGregor is one of our best, most versatile actors, so it means a lot to say that his performance in Beginners is among his most nuanced, a low-key triumph.
Here’s what he had to say:
Beginners has been expanding around the country since it opened last month. It’s the kind of intimate film you sink into, worth seeing uninterrupted on screen.
(And totally beside the point, technical issues prevented me from posting this video when the film opened – I started thinking of it with fond regret as The Lost Ewan Interview – but those problems have been solved, so there will be more video interviews ahead.)