Ewan McGregor Biography:
A charismatic, auburn-haired leading man with gray eyes and a heavy brow, Ewan McGregor knew he wanted to be an actor at age nine and by age 16 had left home to work with the Perth Repertory Theatre in his native Scotland. He then migrated to London where he studied acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. An early break came with the Channel 4 series "Lipstick on Your Collar" (1993), written by Dennis Potter. That same year the actor made his feature film debut in Bill Forsyth's uneven "Being Human" (released in the USA in 1994) and continued his streak, landing the leading role of Julien Sorel in the BBC miniseries adaptation of "Scarlet and Black", in which he was a 19th-century Frenchman who dreams of becoming another Napoleon but is betrayed by the married woman who loves him.
McGregor came to prominence as Alex Law, the cocky young journalist who becomes enmeshed in murder, in Danny Boyle's "Shallow Grave" (1994), written by John Hodge. He reteamed with Boyle and Hodge for "Trainspotting" (also 1995), a kinetic and dramatic look at the street culture of Glasgow, essaying the role of Mark Renton, a charming heroin addict who attempts to straighten out his life but gets caught up in other crimes. The popularity of "Trainspotting" both with critics and rabid fans successfully launched the actor's career, thanks in no small part to his harrowing and disarming performance. Subsequent high profile roles have included the dashing Frank Churchill opposite Gwyneth Paltrow's "Emma" (1996) in Douglas McGrath's winning adaptation of Jane Austen's classic, and a bisexual whom Vivian Wu uses as a writing pad in Peter Greenaway's erotic "The Pillow Book" (1997). McGregor displayed his romantic side (paired with Tara Fitzgerald) as an unemployed mineworker performing in a brass band in the comedy "Brassed Off" (1997).
After an appearance as a burglar who comes up against a vampire in a 1996 episode of HBO's "Tales From the Crypt", McGregor reached mainstream American TV viewers as a petty crook whose attempted robbery of a convenience store goes awry in an episode of the hit NBC series "ER" (1997), for which he earned an Emmy Award nomination. Reteaming with Boyle and Hodge, the actor was cast a recently fired janitor who seeks revenge on his employer by kidnapping the man's daughter (Cameron Diaz) in 1997's quirky caper "A Life Less Ordinary". McGregor continued to display his prodigious talents as a Dutchman who romances a mother and her daughter in the period drama "A Serpent's Kiss" (1997), as an innocent man who becomes the prime suspect in a murder in "Nightwatch" and as a glam-rock musician (not unlike Iggy Pop) in Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine" (both 1998). An uncharacteristic but well-played role in "Little Voice" as a painfully shy telephone installer who keeps carrier pigeons rounded out 1998.
Though he has publicly decried the big-budget blockbuster on numerous occasions, McGregor made headlines and magazine covers when he landed the coveted role of the youthful Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas' "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999). Though the film itself was something of a disappointment, faltering from the modern fairy tale feel of its predecessors that attracted the actor to the project in the first place, it struck box-office gold allowing McGregor to emerge as a bona fide star.
After playing a man somewhat innocently stalking a woman (Ashley Judd) in the promising but ultimately unsuccessful "Eye of the Beholder" (2000), McGregor was impressive in his portrayal of James Joyce in "Nora", a little-seen 2000 biopic of the legendary Irish author's longtime love that was produced by Natural Nylon, the film company he formed with fellow actors Jude Law, Jonny Lee Miller, Sadie Frost and Sean Pertwee. The following year he won raves and new fans as the star of Baz Luhrmann's popular musical spectacular "Moulin Rouge!". An often over-the-top production, "Moulin Rouge!" was saved from complete campiness by McGregor's heartfelt turn as the talented but naive writer who falls in love with a magnetic courtesan (Nicole Kidman). The film also offered the actor the opportunity to showcase his very capable singing voice (previously hinted at in a karaoke scene in "A Life Less Ordinary" and some more edgier material in "Velvet Goldmine") with several challenging numbers that led Luhrmann to claim the actor "could be the Frank Sinatra of this new period".
That same year, McGregor was featured in Ridley Scott's fact-based war film "Black Hawk Down", bringing strength and vulnerability -- as well as an American accent much improved from his efforts in the 1998 misfire "Nightwatch" -- to his role as a desk jockey soldier who first sees combat in the 1993 Somalian humanitarian mission that turned into a devastating battle. He then reprised the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Lucas' anticipated "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002) and teamed with Tilda Swinton in the thriller "Young Adam" (lensed 2002).
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