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Ewan McGregor: “I am quite happy being me”

June 22, 2011

Mr. McGregor, it seems like your motorcycle adventures are beginning to overshadow even your film career.

Is that right? (Laughs) Well, I like being out there. I think if you can encourage people to do something, if it is to go out and explore the world and see parts of the world that you might not otherwise see, and appreciate that people’s lives are very different from ours here in Europe and in America, then I think that is a good thing to do. I am happy to have done that, whether it be the movies, a perfume ad, or the series about my motorbike trips. Do you know what I mean? If they stand for that, then that is good.

Are the road trips with your best friend your way of soul-searching? Do you reflect about your life and your career while you are on the road for hours and hours?

It is totally a time for all of that. It is time for reflection, because you sit on the bike for eleven hours a day, so you’ve got a great deal of time to think about things. But it is also a time to stop thinking about certain things and let your mind rest and just ride the bike. And it is a time to explore and encounter people in very different situations than my own. That becomes entirely food for your soul. It is incredibly fulfilling.

What is the best soundtrack to ride a bike?

It depends where you are. On the Africa-trip we had quite a good system to listen to music all the time, but my taste changes on a daily basis. I think Pink Floyd is difficult to beat when you are on a motorbike. Just lots of Pink Floyd, that’s good. Sometimes my best friend and I just become ridiculous on our bikes. Just dancing and being foolish and enjoying life to the fullest while we listen to loud music.

Would you allow your children to ride motorbikes?

Yeah, yeah, of course. I would because then I would teach them to ride. My wife would never allow it, so they won’t. They will probably never ride bikes. But I would teach them how to do it properly. I drive quite safe; I am not a particularly fast driver. I am much more interested in the feeling of it and the relaxing nature of it. If I go out and ride too fast on roads that I am not too familiar with I get in trouble and then there’s fear and that’s not what I want to experience. I drive slowly and I’m quite happy with it like that.

Do a lot of people recognize you on those trips?

It depends where I am. But quite often, yes.

Does it bother you that you can’t escape your fame no matter where you go?

No. Because I don’t have a problem being Ewan McGregor. I am quite happy being me. I don’t have anything to run away from or escape. I am able, on the whole, to live my life in a fairly normal way other than being away a lot. I’m not mobbed by people or paparazzi. I have a fairly normal time with it. In that respect I am not trying to get away from anything. Getting away from something often implies that it’s a negative pursuit, but it’s not in my case. It is a pursuit that is about taking things in.

But don’t you meet every criteria to be chased by paparazzi?

No. I don’t meet their criteria. I am happily married and have had kids for quite a long time.

Isn’t that what they are looking for: inside looks into private moments with the family?

No. They are generally looking for actors who are going out with other actors. Someone whose life they can document falling apart. That won’t happen to me.

That last sentence matches your image as a nice guy.

Yes, I am a very nice guy. Please write that down and make sure you don’t forget it! (Laughs)

Is that one of the reasons why you get so many good parts? Do people want to work with you because you seem to be so uncomplicated?

I think it ultimately doesn’t matter to the work. I have worked with really difficult actors who are great on screen, but I had a horrible time working with them. There is no rule about it really, in terms of whether the work is good or not. But I think in terms of a human being and going to bed at night and living in this world, your behavior makes a big difference. I wouldn’t want to work and live like that.

Somehow it is almost expected for big actors to have a certain arrogance.

People pay us an enormous amount of money for us to do what we do so I think we should be there on time and do our work. Sometimes the more money they get paid, the less they care about their behavior, that’s true. It is a kind of embarrassing attitude if one thinks that he is the next royal, the next prince or princess of Hollywood. But those kinds of demands are embarrassing to me.

You never thought that you were Hollywood’s next prince?

No. And I’ve always been paid very well. Since my first job I’ve gotten paid more money than I could have ever imagined.

So how do you remain the same?

I don’t. It is part of human nature to change all the time. It’s just the older you get, hopefully the more you realize which things in life work. You realize which things make you happy and which not. If you keep your eyes open your life becomes easier and clearer with maturity.

So what is your vision of a perfect life?

I think the things that make me happy are my family, my work, and my bikes. Those are the things that work for me, so it becomes quite clear. My focus is on those things and therefore I become better in it.

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Short Profile

Name: Ewan Gordon McGregor
31 March 1971
Place of Birth:
Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland

Audio Sample



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8 Responses to this Interview

  1. First time reader here, first time commenter.

    This was a great little interview, and it’s always nice to get some view into an actor like Ewan McGregor’s life other than what you read from other places.

    My one request: complete audio versions of the interviews! Especially McGregor – his Scottish accent is badass. :-)

  2. Yeah, audio, even snippets would be great.

  3. hey, I just noticed, audio sample. Great!

  4. this’s great interview, I love it.I want to hear the full audio,too.

  5. I like this interview, and I want to hear full audio.

  6. I absolutely love him and his outlook towards life!

  7. He is a great guy.

    I would love the full audio interview though.

  8. It is part of human nature to change all the time. How true.

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