Whether or not Ewan McGregor expected the SAG-AFTRA talks to break down yesterday, he came to New York Comic Con prepared. Surprisingly, he had never been to the convention before. So, he wasn’t going to miss it, strike or not. He just had to adapt.
The Star Wars actor shared many of his adventures off the screen, from how to make a proper cup of tea (“You put the milk in first and then the tea”) to riding a motorcycle across various continents (“I’d like to have one of those speeder bikes”). But the actor’s guild strike didn’t stop him from talking about acting in general today, and his experiences on the stage.
Growing up, Ewan McGregor knew he wanted to go into performing. His two favorite subjects were music and art. However, his school thought he liked them because they were easy, and so he had to take physics instead. Little did they know he would go on to became a Gold Globe and Emmy award-winning actor.
At 14 years old, he really wanted a drum set. His dad played in a band, and one night at a party his dad’s friend invited him up to play the drums. “Luckily,” McGregor elaborated, “everyone was plastered.”
But if he was to teach a course, he’d teach music or drama. In fact, he explained he once led an acting workshop specifically for directors, so they could better understand those they directed. A star of screen and stage, McGregor acted as Iago in William Shakespeare’s Othello at Donmar Warehouse in 2007. You can hear him talk more about the role here:
In the production, the lighting design would start out dark and gradually lighten over the course of the show. So by the end of the play, the lights illuminated the whole theater—audience included. McGregor explained how actors often won’t tell other actors they’re coming to see their show, so as not to throw them off their game.
But with the bright lighting, McGregor looked up during one performance and realized, “Oh, that’s Jude Law.” That said, the only audience member that really threw him off his game was the late Sir Peter Hall. A prolific theater director in the UK, Hall founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and went on to lead both the National Theatre and the Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
But the eminent director of Shakespeare productions watching McGregor hasn’t stopped the actor from wanting to perform more of the Bard’s work. The Shakespeare role Ewan McGregor really wants? “I’d like to play the Scottish King at some point,” he told New York Comic Con. For those who don’t know, McGregor likely avoided the title MacBeth since it’s considered back luck to say in a theater—unless one performs the play.
And New York Comic Con panels offer a kind of theater. But McGregor did not bust out his best MacBeth performance, I’m afraid. He explained that he sees time go by without a major production of the play, and then a big actor takes on the role, and then time passes and another one jumps on it. McGregor bides his time. “I might be quite an old Scottish King.”
Ewan McGregor also discussed his work with UNICEF in helping underprivileged children around the world, his love of a good sweater, and more about motorcycles. And of course, he addressed the strike. “I’m 100% behind the strike,” he emphasized. But he added, “I really wanted to take part [in New York Comic Con],” and apologized for the lack of discussion around his screen roles. Still, he stressed he wanted to come out to engage with fans and the community. After all, it’s his first New York Comic Con.