Despite his track record, Scottish-born actor Ewan McGregor isn’t always a fan of getting his kit off, writes HOLLY BYRNES
FOR the record, as proud of his 45-year-old body as Ewan McGregor is, he would like it known he does not have a clause in his contracts to make nude scenes compulsory.
Fans of the Scottish-born actor, who have seen plenty of McGregor in the raw, over his 25-year career – including films Trainspotting, Velvet Goldmine and Pillow Book – might be surprised at this denial.
Still, in his new TV role – playing two brothers, Ray and Emmit Stussy, in the third season of FX series Fargo – it doesn’t take long before McGregor’s bare bottom is filling the small screen again.
It’s all for the story, the cheeky star insists, playing parole officer Ray, who leaps from a bath he’s enjoying with a co-star, half-way through episode one.
Devotees will also note he’s more out of shape as the middle-aged Minnesota man, packing on the weight to play Ray.
Besides the physical and creative challenge of tackling the two parts (he also plays Ray’s more successful sibling and parking lot entrepeneur Emmit, pictured above), McGregor relished adding the inches to his waistline.
“I’d been waiting for years to get that note ‘put on weight’ as opposed to take it off,” McGregor says.
“It’s easier to do than say my role in Son of a Gun when I had to be super muscly and fit … that takes effort. The only effort with this was moving my jaw, eating … so I just did that a lot.”
Appearances aside, the movie star’s turn in Fargo’s 10-episode season is a tour de force. While a fan of the film, made famous by Billy Bob Thorton, McGregor had never seen the TV adaptation (starring Martin Freeman and Kirsten Dunst) “because I thought it was a silly idea to make a television series of a movie we all know and love”.
“Then I bumped into one of [ Fargo’s] producers when I was skiing and sat down and had lunch with him and we were talking about shows on FX that I loved,” he says.
“I loved Baskets with Zac Galifianakis and anything with Louis CK I really enjoy. He asked if I’d seen Fargo and I said I hadn’t and he said, ‘You should watch and check it out because we’re casting the third season now and we’re looking for someone to play two brothers’.”
Despite watching them out of order, season two before one, he was hooked and impressed at how creator Noah Hawley had managed to capture the flavour, tone and look of the Coen Brothers film. “I was very excited to try to create two unique people, brothers, who are very different personalities, different physiques,” McGregor says.
“Some of my favourite actors have done that, like Alec Guinness, and I’ve always thought it was a mark of something as an actor to have the audience forget you are playing either character.”
He would make the mental shift between the two, between scenes, mostly in the make-up chair – with Ray’s balding look and exaggerated nose requiring two-and-a-half hours’ work.
With filming of the series finishing just last month, McGregor promises it won’t be the last we see of him – naked or not – in TV: “I certainly hope to do it again because I like it. I came away feeling completely satisfied creatively, it was a great experience.” ANDY Ryan knows his place when it comes to his TV marriage to Miranda Tapsell.
As the Love Child favourite who plays junior doctor Warren explains: “I play Mr Martha Bowditch, that’s what I call him” – a nod to his empowered on-screen wife, played by Tapsell.
The actors’ relationship off-air is as respectful, albeit more your sparring siblings than lovers, he tells TV Guide.
“We’re the best of friends,” he says. “We stitch each other up all the time. We’re always making fun of each other and making jokes.
“Last year we had a really cool bet, where the loser of the State of Origin had to wear the winner’s jersey. I’m a diehard Queensland fan, so she posed up in my jersey…it was absolutely swimming on her.”
The strength of their chemistry has paid off in work terms for Ryan, who began on the Channel 9 drama in its second season with a small role that has only built as fans follow their love story.
“I actually got this role just after [the INXS telemovie] Never Tear Us Apart had aired so I was grateful just to get some work,” he says.
“I started off in the second season, I think I had something like 20 days work and I was over the moon with that. Then the season after, they doubled the quantity of my role. This year I’ve come back with a full season, so I’ve had a lot to sink my teeth into which is really good, I’m really happy.”