Ewan McGregor Explains Why He Nearly Turned Down ‘Star Wars’
Over the past few years, there has been a small but noticeable attempt to rehabilitate the image of the Star Wars prequels in popular culture. Last November, for example, the A.V. Club published an article on why the Star Wars prequels don’t deserve our hatred. Similar pieces have been published in The Mary Sue, USA Today, and many other websites and online publications. It just goes to show that there is a lid for every pot, no matter how misshapen that pot may be.
And while I’m not prepared to say that the Star Wars prequels are anything other than a hot mess, I will admit that Ewan McGregor is one of the bright spots of the franchise. McGregor tackled the backstory of one of the Star Wars universe’s most beloved characters head on, keeping his head above the muddled CGI and terrible storytelling to give the prequels something resembling an emotional core. According to the actor, though, this almost wasn’t the case. Here’s ComicBook.com (via Heroic Hollywood) with the relevant quote:
Star Wars is Star Wars, it’s something I grew up with as a kid. At first, I was very reluctant to do it, because I saw myself as this urban, grungy actor doing films about heroin and stuff, and that’s who I felt like I really was. But the nearer I got to it, the more I wanted to do it: and it wasn’t for money reasons, because it was back in the day I got paid nicely for it, but it wasn’t ridiculous by any means. It was to do with being in it and it didn’t feel like Hollywood. George Lucas hated Hollywood he was in San Francisco following the beat of his own drum.
I can certainly understand McGregor’s hesitance regarding the role. In the months leading up to the 2009 Star Trek reboot, I remember reading an article with actor Chris Pine where he admitted he only took the role of James T. Kirk because it placed him outside his comfort zone. Pine had spent the early part of his career developing his skills as a character actor (a la Hell or High Water) and decided to see if he could hack it as a Hollywood leading man as well. This approach may run slightly counter to what we think of as “serious acting,” but it worked for both men, proving that the best actors shouldn’t feel like they have to choose between the big movies and the small ones.