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Ewan McGregor on ‘American Pastoral’ and the Expectations of First Films

At last year's Toronto International Film Festival, we spoke with the longtime actor about the kind of films he wants from his time in the director's chair.

Ewan McGregor, by Daniel Bergeron. Indiewire 2016. No PR/No Release on file.

Ewan McGregor

Daniel Bergeron

[Editor’s Note: This post is presented in partnership with Spectrum. Catch up on this year’s Awards Season contenders and the latest films On Demand. Today’s pick is “American Pastoral.”]

Anyone making their first film would be thrilled to have the tools at Ewan McGregor’s disposal. Shortly before entering the third decade of his acting career, McGregor seized the opportunity to direct a feature, “American Pastoral.”

McGregor’s good fortune began with his source material, the Philip Roth novel of the same name. Working from one of the more beloved pieces of American literature was a strong foundation, but also set expectations high. To pull off the story of a family unceremoniously thrust into the turmoil of rural American life in the heart of the 20th century, McGregor enlisted an impressive cast. Alongside Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Uzo Aduba and David Strathairn, McGregor himself stars as “Swede” Levov, the patriarch of the crumbling family at the film’s center.

Also on board for this ambitious first project: composer extraordinaire Alexandre Desplat, whose score helps underline the sparse, dissonant feelings invading Swede’s town and family life. The novel took on Vietnam-era unrest, middle-class angst, and the ability for crime to puncture idyllic American notions. McGregor confronts all those ideas through a chilled lens.

At last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, we spoke with McGregor about his motivations for tackling this material and the void in modern filmmaking that he was looking to fill.

Curious to see how McGregor’s first stint in the director’s chair turned out? You can watch “American Pastoral” via Movies on Demand between now and May 8th.

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