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Ewan McGregor - Biography

The Scottish actor is best known for his role in hit film Trainspotting 

Ewan McGregor looking dapper at a premiere
Phoebe Tatham
Content Writer
Updated: June 15, 2023
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Who is Ewan McGregor? 

"One minute I was lying on the floor with a syringe in my arm, then I got married, then I was standing in this trailer with a wig and a top hat and leather gloves on," says actor Ewan McGregor describing his hectic film schedule. The getting married bit, of course, took place in real life rather than on the silver screen.

A Scot and enthusiastic patriot, Ewan Gordon McGregor was born on March 31, 1971, in the quiet market town of Crieff, Perthshire. Fascinated by acting, as a child he worshipped his uncle actor and director Denis Lawson, perhaps best known as the multi-talented hotel owner in Local Hero who often popped up from London to visit the McGregor household. With acting in his blood, Ewan's decision to leave school at 16 to join Perth Repertory Theatre was wholeheartedly supported by his parents. 

His Career

At 18, the rising star was accepted into London's prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama and soon established himself as a young prodigy, going straight into Dennis Potter's Channel 4 TV series Lipstick On Your Collar.

Ewan's first notable film role was that of cynical hack Alex Law in the low-budget but critically acclaimed thriller Shallow Grave. The film marked the start of a highly successful partnership between the actor and the Danny Boyle, John Hodge and Andrew MacDonald production team. 

The drug-fuelled Trainspotting was their next big project together, and a starring role opposite Cameron Diaz in A Life Less Ordinary followed soon after. The trio's relationship with Ewan foundered, however, when the studio decided to cast Leonardo DiCaprio instead of the Scottish star in 2000's The Beach.

His Family Life

Almost immediately after completing Trainspotting, Ewan married French production designer Eve Mavrakis. "I did a lot of the initial chasing and we both then chased each other around London for a while," he says. No sooner was the wedding over then Ewan was back at work, filming the costume drama Emma, and there seemed to be no stopping his back-to-back projects.

The newlyweds completed their own collaborative effort a year later with the birth of their first daughter Clara.Clara's brush with death after a bout of meningitis in 1997, while Ewan was in LA, led the actor to greatly reduce his schedule and taught him how much his family means to him. The couple's second child, Esther, arrived in 2001. When he was offered the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first of the long-promised prequels to the Star Wars trilogy he accepted the project with the same sang-froid with which he had taken on other roles. 

He was thrilled to be in the film, however, exclaiming at the time, "I've been waiting nearly 20 years to have my own light sabre. Nothing's cooler than being a Jedi knight. "Mega-stardom beckoned, but Ewan preferred to play it cool, starring in low-budget films. He was also busy helping form the production company Natural Nylon intended as an antidote to big-buck Hollywood projects with friends Jonny Lee Miller, Sean Pertwee, Jude Law and Sadie Frost.

The handsome star was tempted back into the Hollywood limelight by a starring role opposite Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge. And he followed the all-singing all-dancing musical with Black Hawk Down - which earned an Academy Award nomination for director Ridley Scott in 2002 - sharing the screen with Sam Shephard, Tom Sizemore and Josh Hartnett.

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