Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Untold Truth Of Ewan McGregor

Ewan Mcgregor has had what can only be described as an impressive career in film and television. From indie darlings like "Trainspotting" to his iconic role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy, the Scottish actor has established himself as both a preeminent talent and an unwavering fan favorite. When the news came out that Obi-Wan Kenobi would return in his own Disney+ series, "Star Wars" fans celebrated. Despite the mountains of critique that have been heaped on the prequels over the years, McGregor is undeniably one of the best parts of the films, and the reaction to his return is a testament to that fact.

Over his decades-long career, McGregor has become beloved by audiences and critics alike for a number of commanding performances, such as those in "Halston" and "Fargo," as well as for roles in cult-classic films like "Big Fish" and "I Love You Phillip Morris." But there's more to Ewan McGregor than meets the eye. Here are some things you might not know about the Scottish star.

Wedge Antilles's nephew

During Obi-Wan Kenobi's long exile in the scorched barrens of Tatooine, the Rebel Alliance rises to stand against the evils of the Galactic Empire. One of the Rebellion's most famous members — ace pilot Wedge Antilles — has a link to the old disgraced Jedi that some fans might be aware of. It's not a canonical connection, but one within the real world, as Wedge's actor, Denis Lawson, is Ewan McGregor's uncle.

Like McGregor, Lawson is a Scottish actor with a lengthy resume of performances in both film and television. And, again like McGregor, he'll always be beloved by the legions of "Star Wars" fans, no matter how many other first-rate roles Lawson has racked up over the course of his career. The family connection is strong, and it's always been significant to McGregor. "He's always been my acting hero," McGregor said during an interview on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." "If I've ever got stuck at work, he's the only person I'd ever phone and ask acting advice from."

Ewan McGregor: SFX Artist

At this point, it's practically common knowledge among "Star Wars" fans that Ewan McGregor couldn't help making lightsaber sound effects when filming his scenes in the prequel trilogy. It's funny to know that the young McGregor couldn't help but geek out when given the chance to play a Jedi and join the iconic cinematic universe in which his uncle Denis featured. But a bit of knowledge that isn't quite so common is the fact that, while filming the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series –- at the age of 50, mind you -– McGregor still couldn't keep himself from humming and whooshing while he swung his lightsaber.

McGregor, for his part, claims to be better at controlling himself now. While filming "Obi-Wan Kenobi," director Deborah Chow apparently got a jump on the unwanted (albeit hilarious) noises with a clever trick. "When we were doing the fight scenes in this series, we played a lot of music on set," McGregor explained to The Wrap. "It's so good to play with John Williams's soundtrack, you know, to do the fighting. So, whether I was doing [the sounds] or not, we wouldn't have heard it this time."

One McGregor can actually fly

Picture this: A high-flying, handsome McGregor steers a state-of-the-art wonder of technology against the majestic backdrop of the skies, rolling and diving with a seemingly superhuman level of skill. There's a good chance that you were thinking about Obi-Wan Kenobi flying through the twinkling, star-studded, space of "Attack of the Clones" or "Revenge of the Sith," but surprisingly, that isn't the only correct answer. Despite his many accolades, McGregor actually isn't the only star child in his family. His brother Colin, three years the actor's senior, has also taken to the skies quite literally.

Instead of Jedi Starfighters, Colin piloted Tornado GR4's in the Royal Air Force for two decades. Rumor has it he even went by the call sign "Obi-Two" during his career, although this appears to be only hypothetically awesome, as the rumor is still unverified. Colin retired from Her Majesty's service as of 2007, so who knows — maybe he still has time to move into his baby brother's turf and win himself an Oscar one day. He did, after all, host "RAF at 100" with Ewan — a BBC celebration of the Royal Air Force.

An actual swordsman

These days, it's almost a default expectation that actors in big-budget superhero and action movies receive arduous, exhaustive physical training in order to look the part. McGregor is no exception. Even as far back as his "Star Wars" debut, he was putting in the work. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, McGregor went hard on sword training, and his skills are readily apparent in the famous fight between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul in "The Phantom Menace" and his final showdown with Anakin Skywalker in "Revenge of the Sith." Ever the consummate professional, McGregor prepared for "Obi-Wan Kenobi" by training even harder than he had decades prior.

While most who wield lightsabers fight only about as well as the "Star Wars" Kid on a good day, McGregor's dedication and drive have ensured he's able to dazzle audiences with his sword work. For the Disney+ series, McGregor ensured his skills were just as strong as ever by doing "monster, two-and-a-half-hour sessions of sword fights and hand-to-hand stuff" almost every day (per The Wrap). Clearly, this is one Jedi who takes his training seriously.

A lightsaber duel with Oasis

One of the stranger aspects of Ewan McGregor's history with the lightsaber has to be the time he dueled Noel Gallagher, the famed frontman of rock band Oasis best known for the mega-hits "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back in Anger." The combination might seem pretty random, but of course, there's a story behind it.

As Gallagher told StarWars.com, McGregor showed up at a party at the musician's London home shortly after landing the role of Obi-Wan. At one point, Gallagher — an avid "Star Wars" fan who already owned at least two lightsaber replicas — told the actor, "Right then, in the back garden and show us your skills." When asked if the encounter was McGregor's first-ever lightsaber fight, Gallagher jokingly replied by saying, "And his last, he was schooled!" McGregor later confirmed the encounter to Jimmy Kimmel, though when asked by Kimmel who actually won the encounter, McGregor responded, "I'd be surprised if any of us could remember that."

There's a method

Ewan McGregor certainly did his best to bring the young Obi-Wan Kenobi character to life in "Star Wars," even managing an occasionally emotional performance despite the notoriously challenging blue screen environment in which the prequel trilogy was shot. It's an impressive feat on McGregor's part, so it's no surprise that when given the right environment and enough time to prepare, the actor has the ability to deliver truly memorable turns. The production of "Trainspotting" gave McGregor all he needed and more, and as expected, his performance is a major reason that the film is viewed as a modern masterpiece.

Both director Danny Boyle and McGregor himself have been candid over the years about the lengths that the actor went to in order to properly portray Mark Renton, the film's troubled protagonist. The pair have revealed that McGregor adjusted his diet radically to achieve the gaunt look required for Renton's heroin-heavy lifestyle. As McGregor once described it to GQ, "I grilled everything, stopped drinking beer, drank lots of gin instead," which led to him losing significant weight. The actor even learned how to cook heroin, though he set a boundary of actually using the drug. He may not be as heavy of a method actor as someone like Daniel Day-Lewis, but McGregor has definitely had his method moments.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

A bit of drama

While Ewan McGregor has generally steered clear of the celebrity gossip columns, he did make some waves in 2018 after filing for divorce from veteran production designer Eve Mavrakis. Most of the drama came from the fact that he quickly recoupled with his "Fargo" co-star Mary Elizabeth Winstead ("Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"), who he married in 2022 (per People). In the grand history of Hollywood divorces, there isn't all that much remarkable about McGregor's, but it did cause a bit of upheaval in his own life.

McGregor won the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture for "Fargo" at the 2018 Golden Globes, and he thanked both Mavrakis and Winstead in his acceptance speech. Less than a week later, two of McGregor's daughters, Esther and Clara, both weighed in negatively on their father's alleged new romance — one through subtle songwriting and the other through outright trash-talking (per People). McGregor and Winstead had a child of their own in 2021, and it's safe to assume that the whole family is on better terms now than they were at the time. Both Clara and Esther posted pictures with their new sibling on Instagram, congratulating their father and stepmother. In an industry where relationships can so quickly turn ugly, it's nice to see that things seemed to have worked out all right in this case.

Biking 'round the world

When your older brother is a fighter pilot, it simply doesn't matter if you have an Emmy –- you're virtually guaranteed to have some sort of psychological need that only machine-based speed can solve. In Ewan McGregor's case, that thrill-seeking nature comes in the form of his deep love of motorcycles.

McGregor is so into motorcycles, in fact, that he's created and starred in multiple documentaries that center around him and his friend Charley Boorman driving motorcycles on long trips. In "Long Way Round," McGregor and Boorman start from London, ride across Asia and the Bering Strait, and all the way to New York City. In the sequel, "Long Way Down," the pair bike from their native Scotland down to South Africa, and in the third installment, "Long Way Up," they ride from Argentina all the way up to Los Angeles. McGregor is so dedicated to the biker life that he's even turned some of his press junket stops into motorcycle stunts of hilarious proportions.

On and off with Danny Boyle

His role as Obi-Wan Kenobi is certainly what made Ewan McGregor a household name, but in order to land that part, the young actor had to first establish himself as an exceptional talent. Luckily, his early career was bolstered by a friendship and creative partnership with director Danny Boyle, which resulted in three outstanding opportunities for just that. Boyle's first three movies, "Shallow Grave," "Trainspotting," and "A Life Less Ordinary," all starred McGregor, and that gave the actor three nuanced characters and three stints with a master director in which to prove himself –- opportunities that McGregor did not waste.

Unfortunately, the friendship between the two soured at the tail-end of the 1990s when Boyle opted to cast Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead in his fourth film, "The Beach." As McGregor had been the star of Boyle's first three films, he'd developed a certain expectation regarding Boyle's projects, as he explained years later when the two appeared together on "The Graham Norton Show." When he wasn't cast, McGregor said that he felt "rudderless" and explained, "It was never about 'The Beach,' it was about our friendship." The frustration led to the pair not speaking for almost a decade. Luckily, they eventually mended fences and collaborated on the long-awaited "T2 Trainspotting."

Thank McGregor for Kenobi

Of all the myriad tidbits about McGregor's life and all of his creative accomplishments, one stands a Wookie's head and shoulders above the rest for "Star Wars" fans. McGregor himself is the primary reason that the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series on Disney+ exists. Fans of his version of the famous character were forced to languish without hope for over a decade after 2005's "Revenge of the Sith." Even when their hope was finally rekindled in the form of the once-planned Obi-Wan movie, it was quickly snuffed out after the commercial failure that was "Solo: A Star Wars Story." But, luckily, one important player in the "Star Wars" family refused to quit: McGregor himself.

At a press conference in 2022, McGregor shared that he spent much of his career answering two questions over and over: "Would I do the sequel to Trainspotting, and would I ever play Obi-Wan Kenobi again?" (via The Mary Sue). Because he told so many interviewers that he was open to playing Kenobi again, word inevitably reached Disney. "They kept seeing on social media that I was saying that I would like to play Obi-Wan Kenobi again," McGregor revealed. "They got me in and asked me if I meant it, and I said, yeah, just — I said I would love to play him again. I think there's got to be a good story between Episode III and Episode IV and that's what we definitely found." And thus, the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series was born, thanks in large part to McGregor himself.