36- Ewan, 28/06/2007, Arba Minch, Ethiopia (2 pictures, 1 video: Dinner in Addis Ababa (also in the official Long Way Down site's videos for registered members), 1 audio: today's interview with Chris Moyles).
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman visited Robin House en route “south” as part of their latest adventure “Long Way Down”. They are doing the epic journey from John O Groats to Cape Town following on from their “Long Way Round” bike ride from London to New York back in 2004.
Ewan cut the first sod for Robin House in May 2003 and this was his opportunity to call in and see the finished building! Ewan was so excited to see the facilities and to meet up with the families who were on hand to welcome him and Charley.
It was a gorgeous day and the children were outside flying kites in the garden when they heard the roar of the bikes coming up the hill to the hospice. Great excitement from all the “Long Way Down” team as they clapped eyes on Robin House for the first time.
One of our parents recalls their visit that day.
Sunday 13th May 2007
Woke up at Robin House, the children's hospice in Balloch, where I am spending the weekend with my family. I am expecting a quiet day before heading home. How wrong can a person be?
Ewan, Charley and their crew on their Long Way Down Trip decide to visit for lunch on their way down from John O'Groats.
It was so lovely to meet Ewan and Charley and to see them spending time with the children, their families and the staff of Robin House on such a personal basis. Two nicer, more down to earth people you could not meet.
After lunch and lots of photos it was time for them to continue with their long journey ahead to Capetown and us back to normality at home with good memories of the day.
Safe journey to you all and looking forward to watching the series when it is televised later in the year.
British MotoGP: Riders for Health Day of Champions is a roaring success
By Rob Hull 21 June 2007 20:08
Bidding on items in the Riders for Health charity auction at the Day of Champions has flown through the roof today with over £20K alone raised to ride the final stint of Long Way Down, the day before the British MotoGP round begins at Donington Park.
The two places on the trip to Cape Town with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on the final two days of the voyage have sold for £12,000 and £10,000 respectively.
Bidding on items donated by Valentino Rossi on the day also surpassed the £10K mark, and the Suzuki competition to be a Rizla pit crew member at Friday’s British motoGP practice day at Donington and a few other goodies also made a whopping £3,800.
Away from the auction Randy Mamola and Steve Parrish both took to the track on the Ducati two-seater and the 2008 Kawasaki MotoGP bike respectively, James Toseland and Crash entertained the crowd with a number of live sets and team MCN were knocked out of the Quiz competition in the first round in dubious circumstances.
For more information on prices for other lots, interviews with some of the big spenders and all the other takings place at the Riders for Health Day of Champions, check out the June 27 issue of MCN.
You can now sign up on the official Long Way Down site. For the sum of £29.99 (plus S&H), you can get a t-shirt, a Long Way Down DVD (once it's released), a picture of Ewan and Charley (signed for the first 500 who join up), unlimited access to online goodies and a chance to win one of two trips to Africa.
If you have problems joining in, be sure to check your PayPal account (or credit card account) before trying again, so you don't end up with two payments, like me.
If you’ve ever watched the globe-trotting adventures of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman and fancied riding with the duo, then now’s your chance – the pair are offering two people the chance to join them on the final leg of their current Long Way Down trip to Cape Town.
The amazing offer has come as part of the exclusive auction for the Rider’s for Health charity which is being held at Donington Park on Thursday June 21.
The two places on this amazing ride will be auctioned to raise money for Riders The famous motorcycling pair are hoping to raise a minimum of £20,000 for the charity from the sale.
The lucky highest bidders will fly to Cape Town, South Africa this summer where they will be provided with a BMW motorcycle and join a very select convoy who will meet up with the Long Way Down team for the final two days of the ride as they head down to Cape Agulhas.
This incredible experience will go on sale as part of the Riders for Health auction, where tens-of-thousands of pounds will be raised to support Riders’ lifesaving programmes in Africa. Thousands of MotoGP fans will be bidding for exclusive race memorabilia, all offered up by the MotoGP riders themselves.
Riders are one of the three charities that are being supported by McGregor and Boorman on Long Way Down. The 15,000 mile adventure started in May 2007 at John O’Groats, Scotland and finishes at the most southern point of South Africa - Cape Agulhas, taking in 20 spectacular countries in total.
The Long Way Down television series is due to air on the BBC in Autumn this year.
During the trip, McGregor and Boorman will be visiting a Riders’ programme in Kenya where they will see how Riders are using motorcycles and a system of preventative maintenance and vehicle management to help health workers deliver healthcare to rural communities.
McGregor said: “Traveling the Long Way Down through Africa, Charley and I have a first hand understanding of the vastness of this continent and the great distances between borders, towns and villages. The work Riders for Health do here is vital, bridging the gaps between communities and bringing health services to the people of Africa.
Hollywood movie star Ewan McGregor rode into town this week to meet a Second World War veteran who took part in the legendary 'Great Escape' from a German prison camp, immortalised in the classic movie.
Alex Lees (centre), a resident of the Erskine veterans home, with Ewan McGregor (left) amd Charley Boorman (right) [Picture: MOD]
Alex Lees, now aged 95, was taken prisoner by the Germans in the war and held at the Stalag Luft III prison camp, from which a massive escape attempt was hatched by the allied prisoners. He now lives at the Erskine home for veterans, near Glasgow, Scotland, which was one of the first stops on the Scottish movie star's latest motorcycle adventure.
'Long Way Down' is Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's follow up to their televised 2004 'Long Way Round' trip, which saw the pair circumnavigate the world on motorbikes via Europe, Asia and America.
Their latest journey sees them travelling 15,000 miles (24,135 km) from the UK's most northerly point, John O'Groats in Scotland, through 20 countries in Europe and Africa to Cape Town, at the southern end of South Africa. The journey is expected to take about three months.
The visit to the Erskine veterans home came about because Ewan's brother Colin, who retired from the RAF's 617 Dambuster Squadron earlier this year, has been very much involved with raising awareness of the home. He asked his famous brother if he could make a stop there as part of his latest trip and Ewan said he'd be delighted.
It was Day Two of the Long Way Down and the entire film crew arrived at Erskine and filmed the visit for the BBC programme which will be aired later this year.
Ewan met around a dozen veterans at the home, from those who served in the Falklands right back to the Second World War, including Alex Lees. Alex, who served with the Royal Army Service Corps during the war, wrote a book about his time at Stalag Luft III, which is located in what is now Poland.
From L-R: Colin McGregor, Falklands Veteran Bill McDowall, Ewan McGregor, Alex Lees, Charley Boorman and 90-year-old Alex Blair who served in World War II and escaped three times from POW camps. He remained in Italy after its surrender in 1943 to support the locals against German occupation and was awarded the freedom of Verona and a combat first class medal in 1986 [Picture: MOD]
The epic war movie, The Great Escape, in which Steve McQueen makes an iconic escape attempt by motorbike, depicts the true events behind the massive escape plot from the prison camp.
Alex, like most of the prisoners there at the time played his part in the escape plans. Pretending to be a gardener, he would carry sand from the escape tunnels being built, in empty Red Cross boxes, and mix it with the surface soil. This was a vital aspect of the escape plot, which was also dramatised in the movie.
Alex has been at the Erskine veterans home for two years. He said:
"It was a great privilege to meet both Ewan and Charley. Seeing a Hollywood legend riding in on a motorbike reminded me of Steve McQueen in the film. Ewan took great time to chat to the veterans and their families who gathered to meet the team from Long Way Down and we are very grateful that he took time out from his long trip to visit Erskine."
Before heading south, Ewan signed a copy of Alex's autobiography 'Before it's too late', about his experiences in Stalag Luft III.
The veterans' home at Erskine was founded in 1916 and has provided nursing, medical and residential care for members of the UK Armed Forces ever since, including veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Around 1,200 veterans are looked after every year. The oldest veteran living there now is 100 years old, while the youngest is 22.
A spokesman for the home said:
"We were absolutely delighted that Ewan and Charley took the time out of a long and very busy trip. Ewan made quite an impression on the veterans and we really appreciate his time and patience."
It is an attempt to circumnavigate the globe entirely by human power - they have PEDALED a boat across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans!!! After 13 years of this, they are finally going to finish this October!!!
Steve Smith and Jason Lewis set off from the Greenwich Meridian on the 12th July 1994 to attempt one of the last great firsts for circumnavigation. Steve decided to leave the expedition upon reaching Hawaii in 1999. Jason carried on solo and is still on course to complete the circumnavigation in October 2007.
Along the way they met people who were moved by the thrill of the adventure enough to join up for a short section: either biking, hiking, kayaking or pedaling the boat. Others became involved by assisting with a support group and, most recently, a number of production partners have come on board to service the many different media components that today constitute Expedition 360.
Location: Wadi Halfa, northern Sudan June 10, 2007
The only people I saw on this last stretch from Abri were the British actors Charlie Boorman and Ewan Mcgregor plus production team en route south on their latest Long Way Down expedition by motorcycles from northern Scotland to Cape Town. We crossed paths on the most remote section of the desert highway where at most you'd expect to see a lorry carrying locals to or from Halfa. So I don't know who was more surprised to see who! Myself to encounter this huge entourage of support vehicles and camera crews in tow, or Charlie and Ewan to see this lone bicyclist in a desert region where people never usually travel alone or unsupported because of the extreme heat, lack of water and possibility of attack from wild animals (which the locals assure me are out there).
They too were finding the tough going. Since leaving Halfa the previous day they'd broken two sets of rear spring suspensions, putting one of the bikes out of action. When I told Ewan he could expect similar road conditions for the next 600+ kms he pursed his lips and said nothing.
Before parting ways the producers made a very generous cash donation of a thousand pounds to the expedition that will help to cover the satellite airtime costs associated with updating this blog. Even they too have found it excruciatingly difficult to procure sponsorship from the UK. When I told then that we'd been trying to get financial backing from the UK for 13-years but without success, I think they felt bad and reached into their emergency fund to share their budget a little. It's ironic that the largest contribution we've received from a single UK source has been another expedition!
Click on the link below to see pictures, read up on this incredible expedition and perhaps donate some money to help out.
23- Ewan, 10/06/2007, Aswan, Egypt (2 pictures, 1 video: Riders for Health, (the audio: Ewan and Charley answer your questions #2 doesn't work because there's an error in the URL. You can click here to listen to it (your browser window will get tiny, but you can enlarge it manually))).
It was reported on Sunday that Ewan was in Nairobi with Virgin Atlantic president Richard Branson and it seemed like the BBC/Long Way Down website was really lagging behind. The following video sets the record straight!
The official Long Way Down site has been updated. The "Offroad" section has been removed (it wasn't active) to make room for a "Home" button (to return to the main page), and the "Members" section has been activated.
The "Members" section contains, at this time, 6 videos, 3 of which are new. The first one is a recap of Long Way Round, while the second and third are the Brands Hatch and Offroading videos that were posted several weeks ago.
There are 23 videos in total, but the rest are greyed-out, with "Membership only - coming soon" being displayed when the mouse cursor is moved over the icons.
Virgin Atlantic Help Deliver Vital Medical Support to Kenyan Communities
Published 3 Jun 07
Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic, today delivered the first batch of motorcycles that will help to bring much-needed medical support to small villages and communities in Kenya and throughout Africa.
The money for the motorcycles was raised by customers contributing to Virgin Atlantic’s onboard charity appeal and by staff who took part in a wide range of fundraising events over the past year. The money was then donated to support the work of the charity Riders for Health, which was selected by Virgin Group’s charitable arm Virgin Unite. Riders for Health has been working in Africa for 17 years and will buy and maintain the motorcycles.
The motorcycles will enable a team of healthcare workers to provide rural communities with improved access to essential drugs and basic health services. Many of the suffering who need help live in remote areas and are often many miles away from the closest hospital or clinic. Each mobile health worker could potentially reach thousands of people each year, offering health education messages as well as vital medicines.
Delivering the first of the 31 motorcycles in Kenya, Sir Richard was joined by two of the world’s most famous bikers – actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman – who are themselves currently raising money for Riders for Health through their own iconic adventure, traveling the Long Way Down through Europe and Africa.
Speaking at the launch of the scheme in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where Virgin Atlantic has just begun daily flights from London Heathrow, Sir Richard said:
“Tens of thousands of Virgin Atlantic customers and staff have helped raise money to bring these bikes to Africa. Preventable and treatable diseases continue to kill thousands of people across the continent every single day and one of the biggest issues is reaching that “last mile” with healthcare services. Through the dedication of Riders for Health staff, these bikes will enable healthcare to get to the remotest of areas, quicker than it might otherwise, improving the quality of life experienced by those in the villages. We hope that we can save many lives and deliver important health messages to ensure the health of future generations.”
Ewan McGregor commented:
“Travelling the Long Way Down through Africa, Charley and I have a first hand understanding of the vastness of this continent and the great distances between borders, towns and villages. The work Riders for Health do here is vital, bridging the gaps between communities and bringing health services to the people of Africa.”
Andrea Coleman, CEO of Riders for Health, said:
“Thank you to Virgin Atlantic’s customers and staff. The money you have raised for Riders for Health will buy 31 motorcycles; in other words, 31 lifelines for many rural communities in Africa. Riders for Health will now enable even more health professionals to visit isolated communities, where women and children might otherwise die of diseases that are easily preventable and curable. Uniquely, Virgin has also recognized that money is needed to cover the cost of the maintenance of the bikes so Riders can ensure they can deliver healthcare day in, day out.”
Riders for Health expects to use the motorcycles in Kenya, Zimbabwe and other African countries. Projects to be supported include Vumilia, a grassroots organisation run by local women focused on prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Western Kenya. The motorcycles will also support Aid Village Clinics, an innovative health model that uses a central medical facility and health outreach workers on motorcycles to deliver healthcare in rural Kenya.
The motorcycles are Honda C10's which have been kindly assembled locally by Marshalls Ltd, the Honda agent for Nairobi.
Ewan and Charley’s record journey will take them from John O’Groats in northern Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa, where the pair expect to arrive in August. Long Way Down is being produced and directed by Russ Malkin of Big Earth and David Alexanian of Elixir Films, who have witnessed and documented Ewan and Charley’s previous adventures Long Way Round and Race To Dakar.
SHE is the dark-haired songstress who seduced a nation with her cool beauty and sultry vocals. He is the legendarily dour Scottish son of the manse who is about to become Britain's most powerful politician.
But Texas singer Sharleen Spiteri and Prime Minister-to-be Gordon Brown have now earned new reputations. Spiteri is the woman Scots would most like to see nude and the Chancellor is the man who they most want to keep his clothes on.
More than 1,700 Scots were polled on their attitude to nudity - and who they would most like to see naked - by Scotland on Sunday ahead of the Naked Portrait exhibition which starts this week at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Spiteri, 39, earned a third of the votes, followed by rock singer KT Tunstall. Third was actress Kelly Macdonald, who came to public attention as Ewan McGregor's schoolgirl lover in the acclaimed film of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting.
Among the males, 36-year-old McGregor, the star of Moulin Rouge!, Star Wars and Young Adam, was voted the one they would most like to see naked (30%). Dr Who star David Tennant took the number two spot, with Dougray Scott third.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, politicians fared badly, with only 2% wanting to see the Prime Minister-elect naked.
Our survey also reveals Scotland still has some way to go if the country is going to embrace a more liberal attitude to nudity.
Scotland on Sunday is today offering readers the chance to win their own naked portrait by a leading photographer. But half of those surveyed said "under no circumstances" would they display the result.
By Gretta Parkinson and Gregg Goldstein May 31, 2007
The Weinstein Co. has obtained U.S., Australian and New Zealand rights to Woody Allen's "Cassandra's Dream," starring Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell, Tom Wilkinson, Sally Hawkins and Hayley Atwell.
The Oscar-winning writer-director again teams with Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who distributed several of Allen's films while at Miramax, including "Everyone Says I Love You," "Mighty Aphrodite," "Bullets Over Broadway" and "Celebrity."
"Harvey is one of the only producers-distributors around who can actually see beyond the grosses and gets real pleasure out of presenting fine movies," Allen said. "I hope my film can live up to some of the terrific pictures he's given the public."
Lensed by Vilmos Zsigmond and set to a score by Philip Glass, "Dream" revolves around two brothers in contemporary London as the circumstances of their lives gradually progress to tragedy.
"Woody Allen has once again poured his tremendous passion and talent into creating a very powerful and compelling drama," Harvey Weinstein said. "We are absolutely thrilled to be back in business with one of the greatest filmmakers in American cinematic history."
Woody Allen is one of the most eccentric and arguably the greatest filmmaker in the history of Hollywood. The New York obsessed neurotic has been nominated for an astounding twenty-one Academy Awards. Fourteen of those honors came in the screenwriting category. His 1977 masterwork Annie Hall is one of the greatest films I have ever seen and still sets the bar for the entire romantic comedy genre. After a lull of mediocre films in the early ‘aughts, Allen stormed back with his brilliant 2005 release Match Point. So why the hell won’t anyone buy his new film?
According to Teletext through Film Stalker, none of the big studios have shown interest in purchasing the quirky helmer’s new film. Cassandra’s Dream, which stars Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell, centers on the relationship of two brothers who turn to crime after a girlfriend pits the two against each other. I’d pay to see this movie right now!
It’s really a shame to see a cinematic legend struggle at the end of his career. It’s true that most of his films are set on an elevated intellectual level, alienating a large portion of American audiences, but he still has a rabid, cult following. For some reason, I don’t really think this bothers Woody too much, though; after all, he was the one that said, “If you’re not failing now and again, it’s a sign that you’re not doing anything very innovative.”
There's a new video on the welcome page, Heading out of Europe. There is also a new log entry by Charley with three pictures and two videos, UK Miles and Euro highlights (same as Heading out of Europe).
Let's take a look at the official Long Way Down website. I must confess to being disappointed in it. While it looks nice, it's a hassle to navigate and to constantly have to scroll down a small portion of the screen to read the information. It looks like it was designed using a huge monitor set at a screen resolution that is much higher than what most people use (source). This site does not lend itself well to repeat visits.
The site is divided into 9 sections (5 of which are active at the time of this writing): Journey, Team, Members (not active), Equipment, Postcards, Shop (not active), Forum (not active), Offroad (not active), Partners and the welcome page. There is also a "Register" section on the welcome page that promises goodies (so far it has been one Email announcing the trip had begun, sent 4 days after the trip had started).
The main page has the intro video that was posted on the site back in January before the redesign.
The Journey section contains a video showing the team looking at maps. Below the video window is a link for video and images. There is also a link to a map/journey route, but it's inactive, so you'll have to rely on the map on the BBC's website.
The Team section is split into two sub-sections: The road team and London HQ. The road team section has fun pictures of everyone who will be on the road (Ewan, Charley, David, Russ, Jimmy, Claudio, Dai, Jim and Ève) and video introductions from all of them. The London HQ section is the same, but with the support staff in London. I think it's great that everyone involved has his or her own video!
The Equipment section is split into three sub-sections: the bikes, the trucks and the kit. The trucks sub-section has pictures of the trucks and the kit section has several pictures of the kit (that includes one with Ewan).
The Postcards section allows you to send postcards to friends via Email. There are 5 pictures to choose from, three from Long Way Round and two from Long Way Down.
The Partners section contains three subsections (probably, because there are no scrolling arrows to see the rest of the page): Sponsors, Charities and Media.
Because the site is entirely done in Flash, it's impossible to give direct links to pages should they get updated. Hopefully there will be some kind of indication on the welcome page when new things have been added to the site. Otherwise it's too tempting to give up on this site and stick with the BBC site, which is being updated almost daily.
There's a new video on the welcome page, The trip so far... and there are two log entries (one from Charley and one from Ewan):
11- Charley, 25/05/2007, Scalea, Italy (3 pictures, videos: Charley in Siena (same as yesterday's Time out in Siena) and The 'mille miglia')
12- Ewan, 26/05/2007, Paola, Italy (3 pictures, videos: Scottish trails (same as The trip so far) and Roadside hospitality)
we'll start with the BBC Long Way Down website. The
site is divided into 6 sections: Route Map, Route Log, Features, The Team, About the Trip and Mobile. We'll concentrate
on the Route Log and the Features (should that section get updated), but it doesn't mean the other sections are not worth
The Route Map contains a Google Map of their route, along with their approximate location and links to their Route
Logs. The Team contains links to logs of the members of the Long Way Down team. About the Trip is
self-explanatory, and Mobile is to get extra content on your mobile phone for those lucky enough to live in the
Features contains the following articles and videos:
Route Log contains the following articles, pictures and videos:
01- Charley, 05/05/2007, before departure (3
pictures, video: Charley's intro)
02- Ewan, 05/05/2007, before departure (2
pictures, video: Ewan's intro)
03- no log #3
04- Charley, 14/05/2007, John O'Groats,
Scotland (3 pictures, video: Leaving John O' Groats)
05- Russ, 12/05/2007, before departure (1
picture, video: Russ Malkin intro)
06- David, 12/05/2007, before departure (1
picture, video: David Alexanian intro)
07- Charley, 18/05/2007, Dover, England (3
pictures, videos: Charley's farewell and Goodbye to the team)
08- Ewan, 20/05/2007, Chamonix-Mont
Blanc (1 picture, videos: Heading into the tunnel and Towelette talk)
09- Claudio, 22/05/2007, Florence,
Italy (2 pictures, videos: Camping and France in the Rain)
10- Ewan, 25/05/2007, Amalfi Coast,
Italy (3 pictures, link to radio interview)
SCENES OF A SEXUAL NATURE (Ed Blum). 91 minutes. Opens Friday (May 25). Rating: NNN
First and foremost, there is no sex -- none -- in Scenes Of A Sexual Nature . There's some ogling, a bit of kissage and a glimpse of the male bum, but no actual weasel-squeezing or anything approaching it. In its place there's talk about sex and love -- more love than sex -- and none of it explicit.
So you're not here out of prurient interest; you're here for comedy, and dialogue comedy at that. Ten people, most paired off and those who aren't want to be, spend the afternoon in London's Hampstead Heath. They talk about why they're divorcing, whether to have kids, whether he's ogling the young beauty reading L'Etranger.
There's no through line, no overarching story to tie the disparate bits together and keep you engaged with traditional "What happens next?" questions.
But it works better than you'd think, thanks to Aschlin Ditta 's brisk dialogue, delivered by an outstanding cast. Ewan McGregor and Douglas Hodge are witty and loving as the gay couple contemplating adoption. Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) and Tom Hardy have the angular charm of early Hepburn and Grant in their pickup scene. Best are Eileen Atkins and Benjamin Whitrow as an aged widow and widower who start as strangers and become much more.
The Henry Mancini-meets-John Barry score keeps hinting that we're in some kind of 60s sex farce -- What's New Pussycat or The Knack. But the film lacks their manic energy and laugh-out-loud humour, making it at best a mild, pleasant and talky outing.
Ewan forced to take doctor with him on dangerous journey into bandit country
By Toby McDonald 20th May 2007
When actor Ewan McGregor set off on his latest daredevil motorbike trek, through Africa, he was told to take one vital piece of kit – a doctor.
At the insistence of his insurers, the 36-year-old star is to be accompanied by Dr Dai Jones, a trained paramedic who has worked in war zones worldwide.
On their three-month adventure, McGregor and his friend Charley Boorman, 40, will pass through seven countries which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises Britons not to visit.
Dr Jones, who developed his skills in Afghanistan and Iraq, will travel with the BBC film crew shadowing the pair on their journey from Scotland to South Africa.
The 15,000-mile trip through 20 countries has been dubbed the Long Way Down. It follows McGregor and Boorman’s 2004 trek from London to New York through Asia, which was made into a documentary called The Long Way Round.
But while they will pass through lawless areas ruled by armed tribesmen, Dr Jones, who has experience in treating everything from scorpion stings to gunshot wounds, thinks Africa’s roads pose the main danger.
He said: "We're going through some dodgy areas. There are lot of risks to health, but I think the biggest concern is road traffic accidents.
"Long Way Down will be very different to the last trip.
"Last time they were riding mostly through unpopulated areas, whereas most places in Africa will be pretty busy. We have to consider injuries plus security, which is why the support crew will stay closer to the guys than before, so we can be there quickly if they have any dramas."
Welshman Dr Jones added: "To be honest, if we can avoid the badness in the worst areas, the biggest risk is going to be the guys falling off the bikes and hurting themselves, or the 4x4 support vehicles rolling, like one did in Long Way Round.
That's why I've trained them in helmet removal, spinal protection, that kind of thing."
The celebrity bikers, who set off from John O’Groats a week ago, will travel through Europe in the first stages of their trip.
Yesterday, they loaded their motorbikes on to the Channel Tunnel Eurostar shuttle at Dover and intend heading through France and Italy.
They will catch a ferry to Tunisia and travel through Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia before arriving in Cape Town.
The journey will take in seven countries on the Foreign Office's no-go list
The mammoth trek will finish at the southernmost point of South Africa, Cape Agulhas, where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic.
Many countries on the route are listed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as high risk areas, but seven – Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia are specially singled out as "Countries the FCO advises against all but essential travel to".
Many are plagued by banditry and lawlessness, while ruthless armed militias are also active in some remote regions.
In addition, large tracts of country are seeded with landmines, while HIV/Aids and other killer diseases are endemic.
Organisers have revealed that McGregor and Boorman trained at a bush survival school and had lessons in self-defence from former Special Forces soldiers before they set off.
They have also had vaccinations for a range of illnesses including hepatitis A, polio, rabies, yellow fever, typhoid, tetanus and meningitis.
In The Long Way Round three years ago, which was made into a television series and successful book, the friends rode from London to New York on a 19,000 mile epic journey through 12 countries.
These included the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia and Canada.
Along the way they had to negotiate roads that were little more than rough tracks, cross numerous swollen rivers and deal with obstructive officials at border crossings.
This time McGregor, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, plans to visit the organisation’s projects in impoverished Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia.
Both riders made light of the risks before setting off from Caithness. McGregor joked: "I've really got to speak to my wife, otherwise she might not let me go.
"I haven't told her that we are leaving yet. I just said I went out to get some milk."
Boorman added: "There's a huge amount we're really looking forward to. The pyramids, obviously. The Nile, and Ethiopia, which many people say is the birthplace of mankind, so that should be amazing.
"Then there's the mighty Okavango Delta wetlands, the bushmen in Namibia, I could go on for ever.
"Of course, there’s a few places we’re a bit nervous about, such as Sudan. But going down the east side makes more sense than going west, where there are probably more problems."
The pair will be riding BMW R1200GS motorbikes, which have been specially kitted out with GPS, crash bars and walkie talkies.
Actor Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman were spotted in Tynedale on Monday.
The motorbike-riding duo were taking a break from filming their latest television series, Long Way Down – a travelogue taking them from John O’Groats to Cape Town – when they dropped into the Riverside Cafe in Chollerford.
David Rooney, of Sharpley Farm, said: “I was sat inside having a cup of coffee when I suddenly recognised Ewan McGregor.
“What a lovely guy! I chatted away with him. He couldn’t have been nicer.”
Author and presenter Clive James was also spotted on Monday, filming a documentary at Housesteads fort on Hadrian’s Wall.
McGregor sets off from Groats on marathon motorbike trip
By Gordon Calder 16 May, 2007
FILM star Ewan McGregor spent a night at the Castle of Mey while he was in Caithness at the weekend to undertake his latest venture.
He was in John O'Groats on Saturday morning along with friend Charley Boorman at the start of a motorbike marathon which will take them 15,000 miles to South Africa.
They arrived in the village after spending the previous night at the Castle of Mey – the former Caithness home of the late Queen Mother – along with McGregor's father and brother Colin, who is a fighter pilot, and two members of the back-up team.
Jeremy Burton, the castle administrator, yesterday confirmed that they stayed at the castle which is now run by a trust and is open to the public.
"Six of the party stayed here on Friday night. Colin McGregor got in touch with our public relations people and explained that they were looking for somewhere private to spend the night before Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman set off from John O'Groats the following day. It was a sort of one-off," he said.
But Mr Burton pointed out that it is not the first time a famous film star has stayed at the castle – the late Sir John Mills was a guest there a few years back while he was on holiday in the Highlands.
McGregor and Boorman clearly wanted to keep their trip low key although word got out and a few locals were at Groats when they arrived in the village on Saturday morning.
One person was even there from 7am, it is understood.
Local businessman Walter Mowat, who owns the Seaview Hotel and the First and Last gift shop, saw McGregor and his team arrive at around 10am.
"There were a few people about and some of them had their pictures taken with them at the sign post," Mr Mowat told the Caithness Courier.
"They were there about 10 or 15 minutes before heading off to get petrol. I would have said they were in Groats for a total of 20 to 25 minutes before leaving."
Fiona Harper, who runs the village post office and petrol station, confirmed that McGregor and Boorman stopped there for fuel.
"They were filling up their bikes but it was Charley Boorman who came in and paid the bill. I did not say much to him as we were kind of busy at the time," she said.
Ewan McGregor, who was born in Crieff, is not the first celebrity to stop off at her shop.
"We have had quite a few over the years," said Mrs Harper.
McGregor (36) and 40-year-old Boorman will travel through 20 countries on their 1200cc BMWs and, it is believed, they plan to navigate using maps rather than satellite technology. They are expected to arrive in Cape Town in South Africa in August.
It is thought that McGregor's wife will join him later this month for part of the expedition.
Three years ago McGregor and Boorman made headlines around the world when they undertook a 20,000-mile marathon bike run which took them to Eastern Europe, Mongolia, Siberia and Alaska before they completed their epic trip in New York.
McGregor saddles up for 15,000 miles of motorbike marathon
Mon 14 May 2007 Raymond Hainey
Film superstar Ewan McGregor set off yesterday on his latest motorbike adventure under a veil of secrecy.
McGregor, 36, best known for his role in Star Wars, and friend Charley Boorman, 40, son of movie director John, set off from Scotland's most northerly point, John O'Groats, early on Saturday morning on a 15,000 marathon bike trip to Africa.
The pair - who three years ago travelled 20,000 miles across Europe to America on another televised trip - decided they wanted to keep the start of their latest trek as low-key as possible.
Only a few trusted friends and family were told the exact time they would be heading off.
Ewan's father, Jim, and fighter pilot brother Colin, who is based at RAF Leuchars, were there to see the pair set off on their three-month trip, which will be filmed for a BBC series.
One John O'Groats local said: "We had heard Ewan and Charley were leaving from here but nobody was sure when.
"The whole thing almost got off to a false start after Charley had problems with his bike and they were delayed for an hour.
"Ewan's dad and his brother were there to give them a big send-off and Ewan and Charley looked really up for it."
McGregor's mother Carol last night maintained the low-key approach to her superstar son's latest adventure, to be televised as The Long Way Down.
She said: "I just don't want to say anything about it at all."
The journey will see father-of-three McGregor and Boorman bike down through Europe and into Africa, ending at the continent's most southerly point, Cape Town in South Africa.
Trainspotting star McGregor's wife, Ève, is expected to join the pair later this month for part of the bike ride.
Like their first trip, they will use their journey to publicise the work of UNICEF, visiting several of the organisation's projects along the route.
The duo will travel through as many as 20 countries including France, Italy, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. They expect to arrive at their destination sometime in August.
But it is when they reach African danger-spots such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda that they expect to encounter the most problems.
The pair have decided not to use hi-tech satellite navigation systems but rely on old-fashioned maps instead.
Motoring giant BMW supplied the two R1200GS Adventures bikes the pair are using for the journey.
A BMW spokesman said: "The bikes are totally standard - we've fitted some crash bars and some luggage holders but other than that, they're the same as you would see in the shops."
He added: "The boys have had the bikes for two weeks to get used to them."
Three years ago, McGregor and Boorman travelled 20,000 miles across the globe on their first bike journey, filmed as The Long Way Round, driving through eastern Europe, Mongolia, Siberia and Alaska, before eventually arriving in New York.
At one point, the pair were held by gun-toting militiamen as they crossed into the Ukraine. The border guards failed to recognise them and refused to let the pair go until they produced relevant documents.
Scottishbiker has reported that at 10am this morning, Ewan, Charley, Claudio and the rest of the LWD crew left John O'Groats in Scotland. He posted his pictures on a motorbike message board. Check them out!
Thanks to Barbara, Lady Sugarbear and Scottishbiker for the heads up and the pictures!
Although with a totally different plot, this is a movie in the same genre as Match Point. It is a crime melodrama; the story of two brothers. It is about lust, romance, and the desire for quick money. It’s also about what happens as the web gets more and more tangled, leading, as it did in Match Point, to murder with surprising consequences.
The film takes place in present day London and while the actual tale is far removed from Match Point (the characters and milieu being much more working class and the storyline nothing like it) there are, as in the form of a thriller, a number of unexpected plot twists.
Ewan goes from handsome hero to Shakespearian villain
10th May 2007 By Baz Bamigboye
Ewan McGregor, often cast as the handsome hero (like Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars movies), will play Shakespeare's most amoral villain in a stage production of Othello which will also star two of our other top actors: Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kelly Reilly.
Donmar Warehouse theatre director Michael Grandage said it was like a board game, arranging for Ewan, Chiwetel and Kelly to be available at the same time for his production of Othello, in which Chiwetel will play the noble Moor, Kelly his Desdemona and Ewan is Iago, the jealous confidant who brings about their destruction.
The three thespians enjoy movie careers that pay handsomely, certainly in the case of the two leading men.
But when Othello begins performances at the Donmar on November 29, with an official first night on December 4, they will be on the Equity minimum wage.
"We're up to £400 a week now," Grandage joked.
However, he put that sum into perspective when he pointed out that his three leads "command, I hope, huge salaries for their films - but that hopefully means they can afford to come to the Donmar.
"It's the other members of the company who need to survive on £400 a week".
The factor that unites Grandage's chosen trio is that he has worked with them all before. Indeed, Chiwetel was in The Vortex, the first play Grandage directed as artistic director when he took over from Sam Mendes at the Donmar five years ago.
Later, he directed the brilliantly gifted Kelly in After Miss Julie and then persuaded Ewan to kick up his heels and croon in Guys & Dolls.
Grandage, just returned to London after his triumph on Broadway with the Donmar's Frost/Nixon, casually mentioned Othello to Ewan when they were working together on Guys & Dolls.
"I said, 'Have a read of Othello and if you have a response, then call me', in the way of these things," he laughed.
"Ewan did call me a year later and said: 'Oh, by the way...'"
Talking about the play, all the actors agreeing they liked the intimacy of it for the Donmar's stage was one thing.
"But the fact that they were all free at the same time meant the planets must have been in alignment somewhere," Grandage told me.
The director and Chiwetel have discussed the exoticism of Othello's world, with the actor introducing him to a 19th-century Ethiopian king who may or may not end up influencing the director's sense of the production.
But he's also, of course, intrigued by Iago, Othello's seemingly friendly lieutenant who deceives all around him.
"Iago has become a byword for manipulation, particularly in politics," explained Grandage, who told me he targeted Ewan because he was struck by how the actor manages to be charming without it seeming a front.
"You know, some people can act being nice. With Ewan, it's genuine.
"The whole point of people being duped by Iago is that they don't notice he isn't nice. He really has to be genuinely charming and charismatic, so all these people get taken in."
He added that with Ewan playing Iago "you're going to get that fantastic duplicity that lies at the heart of the character".
Ewan has just completed shooting the thriller movie Incendiary.
Next week, he continues his long-running charity motorbike adventure. This one's called The Long Way Down, and involves the actor traveling from Scotland to Cape Agulhas, South Africa, after which he goes into rehearsals for Othello.
Chiwetel was in Ian Rickson's sublime production of The Seagull at the Royal Court and he's in constant demand to make movies in the U.S.
In Kelly Reilly, meanwhile, we have one of our most fearless actresses.
She'll become a huge movie star when directors stop worrying what the studio money men think and just cast her - believe me, she would have enlivened any number of films that she was seen for but which ultimately went to other, bigger-named but lesser actresses.
You'll have to be patient to get tickets. Priority booking begins on September 10 and regular public booking on October 15.
Long Way Down - The Iconic Motorcycle Adventure Rides Again
The motorcycle journey of a lifetime is back. After riding from London to New York the Long Way Round in 2004, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman have announced they are to saddle up and take on another iconic adventure, this time travelling the Long Way Down through Europe and Africa.
Their 15,000-mile (25,000 km) journey on two BMW R 1200 GS Adventure motorcycles starts in early May at John O'Groats, Scotland and finishes at the most southern point of South Africa - Cape Agulhas. Taking in 20 spectacular countries in total, it will be a long and arduous journey before Ewan and Charley reach their final destination.
They will ride across Libya, through the desolate deserts of Sudan and the tribal wastelands of Ethiopia. From the jungles of Uganda, through Rwanda, Tanzania, Botswana and on to the wilds of the Skeleton coast, this is a journey for the most intrepid adventurers and along the way Ewan and Charley will stop to experience African culture, meet local people and visit UNICEF sites.
Ewan and Charley have carefully planned their route to visit those countries which they feel will provide inspiration to themselves and others, and are both itching to get back in the saddle again.
"I can't imagine not ever thinking about some adventure," said Ewan McGregor. "Long Way Round changed us all - it bonded us all together and made our dreams come true - and it's not often something like that happens. It has become the most popular thing for people I don't really know to ask me about - more so than any movie! Long Way Down is something you can not only daydream about, but actually do."
Following his exploits in the Lisbon-Dakar Rally last year, Charley Boorman has been eager to return to Africa and see more of this amazing continent: "From when we finished Long Way Round and first met in London afterwards, we started talking about Africa. We learnt so much on Long Way Round because we were honest about what we came across on the way - the show was the journey - nothing more. A few weeks after Long Way Round we had maps out already for the next big world journey - and Africa seemed like the obvious choice."
Long Way Down is being produced and directed by Russ Malkin of Big Earth and David Alexanian of Elixir Films, who have witnessed and documented Ewan and Charley's previous Long Way Round and Race To Dakar adventures. And it was when the team were in Africa that the idea for Long Way Down suddenly gathered momentum, as Russ Malkin explains: "Long Way Down cropped up a lot during the Race to Dakar in 2006, but it wasn't until Dave and Ewan came to Dakar - right at the end, when we were covered in dust, they called us over and said we should do it. At that moment, the trigger was pulled and Long Way Down was happening. Long Way Round was a boy's own adventure and there aren't many of those left in the world. This is more risky than Long Way Round, but if we all turn up in Cape Town healthy and happy, that will be the most amazing moment in my life."
Ewan and Charley will be supporting UNICEF, CHAS and Riders for Health on their travels and the www.longwaydown.com website will keep fans across the world updated with all the latest information on the trip, including the opportunity to view unreleased footage and pre-order copies of the book and DVD. The Long Way Down television series will be shown on the BBC in Autumn/Winter 2007.
IT doesn't take much to get Kristina in a stir, and this week she's excited about an exhibition called Silver Of The Stars, which showcases the work of Scottish silversmiths who have created drinking vessels inspired by Scots celebrities.
The show, which began in Edinburgh and is currently on in a gallery next door to Kristina's downtown office, is based on the theme Drink With A Friend.
So fashion designer Alexander McQueen has inspired a decadent goblet of absinthe, Billy Connolly has a teapot on wheels and Ian Rankin gets a gold-lined silver cup to drink his Irn-Bru from.
But none of that is Kristina's cup of tea. The only thing that makes her kettle whistle is Ewan McGregor's mug, a sexy, rugged masculine affair that Kristina can't wait to get her hands on.
The idea of being in such close proximity to Ewan's big shiny receptacle is almost too much for her to bear. I just hope they're carefully displayed in glass cabinets, otherwise poor Ewan's going to get his handle fondled...
Scottish star records advertising in the Mountain range Ewan McGregor is housed in resort in Good Garden of the Mountain range
May 4, 2007 Karine Ruy / Bom Jardim da Serra Note: the following article was in Portuguese and has been translated into English by Babel Fish. The text has been further corrected by Claude Marcotte. It's not perfect, but it's readable.
Jeans, white t-shirt and brown leather jacket. This was the look actor Ewan McGregor used, yesterday morning, to pilot a motorcycle to the edges of the River Canoes, in Urubici, the Catarinense Mountain range. To the disappointment of fans of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (of Star Wars) the scene will not be in the film of the Scottish star.
McGregor came exclusively to the State to record a commercial for an imported brand of cologne and travels through the region in secrecy. The actor arrived at the Good Garden of the Mountain range in the beginning of the afternoon of Wednesday and went directly to the Resort of the Mountain range of the River of the Track, where he is housed with part of the team of production of the commercial.
Approximately 60 people are involved in the project. Leaving at 6 am, he left the morning coffee table embarked, good-natured and singing, in the Pajero pickup truck to start the first day of filming.
The actor traveled for two hours until he reached the set, located at the foot of the Mountain range of the White Crow. The trip reserved some surprises. Half an hour after having left the resort, a mechanical problem with the van carrying equipment and other people of the team forced the two vehicles to stop on the side of the road.
Filming goes on until Sunday
Before arriving to the filming location at 8 am, the group had to stop twice to ask for directions and a third time because a herd of cows was crossing the road. The set was closed to the press. But at a distance away from the vigilant eye of the producers, we photographed it: Ewan McGregor tried to climb the rocks and pilot a motorcycle from one side of the river to the other. A similar scene was recorded on the access road to the area, with the actor guiding the motorcycle under the fine rain that fell all morning.
The bad weather compelled the team to come back, in the afternoon, back to the Resort. The filming continues until Sunday, but it could be extended by a few more days if the weather does not collaborate.
The areas that will serve as locations had been (not been?) divulged by the agency responsible for the commercial, however we know that the Cânion of the Laranjeiras, located 12 kilometers of the mirante of the Mountain range of the River of the Track, was visited twice for the production this week.
Note: the following article was in Portuguese and has been translated into English by Babel Fish. The text has been further corrected by Claude Marcotte. It's not perfect, but it's readable.
Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, is in Santa Catarina recording a commercial for Davidoff male perfume. He is filming in the interior of the State, at the foot of the White Crow mountain range, close to the Good Garden mountain range.
He arrived yesterday (Thursday) and will stay until Sunday. The local media has mobilized and the Diario Catarinense dispatched a reporter to follow the actor's steps. In gravaçoes (?) yesterday, McGregor drove a boat crossing a river. The Catarinense periodical will publish today material covering the activities of the actor and describe how the production crew had to stop 3 times during the trip between the hotel and film set: twice to ask for directions and the third time because of a herd of cows that crossed the road.
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are just days away from embarking on their latest adventure, the Long Way Down.
The pair are planning to go one better than their previous circumnavigation of the globe with a journey from the most northerly point in McGregor’s homeland of Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa.
BMW has confirmed it supplied two standard R1200GS Adventures to the globetrotters two weeks ago. Managing Director of BMW Motorrad UK, Adrian Roderick, said: “The bikes are totally standard – we’ve fitted some crash bars and some luggage but other than that they’re the same as you would see in the shops. The boys have had the bikes for two weeks to get used to.”
McGregor and Boorman opted not to fit BMW latest Satellite Navigation systems, preferring the romantic system of maps and stars. The trip to Cape Town is expected to take several months with McGregor promoting his favourite charity UNICEF en route.
The provisional dates for departure from John O’ Groats are May 10 or May 12 – depending on the filming schedule.
Amazon.com has updated its page for the Miss Potter DVD with the cover art:
There is no other information about the DVD's release, except that it says it will be released on June 19, 2007.
While it's wonderful that they've put Ewan on the cover (see the U.K. cover art below), one has to wonder why they didn't use a photograph of Norman, the character he plays in the film. Here is the cover art for the U.K. DVD from Amazon.co.uk:
Don't worry – it's just movie makeup. A faux-battered Michelle Williams and Ewan McGregor get fired up on the London set of their film Incendiary on Friday. The actress plays an unfaithful wife and McGregor is her lover in the romantic drama.
This article is about the pictures posted yesterday, in the post immediately below this one.
We caught them while they were shooting some scenes in London for director Sharon Maguire, you know the one who directed the first Bridget Jones flick.
While Williams obviously didn't feel the cold in a micro mini, poor McGregor must have been feeling it rather parky as he warmed his hands on a hot water bottle!
The movie follows a woman whose life is torn apart when her husband and infant son are killed in a suicide bombing at a soccer match. Making matters worse is that she was having an affair at the time. Williams plays the woman and McGregor the journalist with whom she was having an affair.
Also in the pics is some images of the kid who is playing her son and also her late husband.
Also in the movie is Matt Macfadyen who plays Williams husband's boss, a senior anti-terrorist police officer who becomes a rival....
Before the "Star Wars" craziness, Scottish rascal Ewan McGregor was famous for getting his willy out in many of his movies including the one that made him a star - Danny Boyle's addict drama "Trainspotting".
In recent weeks Boyle has mentioned that a script is being worked on for the follow-up film "Porno" and he's merely waiting on the actors to age a bit more before he goes into production on the film.
Don't expect one of those stars to return however as during a recent interview with L'hebdo Cinéma, McGregor said he would definitely not want to be a part of it - strengthening comments he made a few years back on the subject. Seems that he disliked the book and isn't particularly interested in reprising the character anyhow.
On top of that he confirmed that their relationship had been ruined because of a movie (i.e. "The Beach"), and that the two were still in bad terms. Surprising considering that whilst talking with The Guardian on Friday, Boyle sounds hopeful about a reunion - "I'm sure we will get back together again, I hope we can, because we had a really good run. He's one of those guys who can do it, who has got that magic thing that people love. You don't come across it very often."
To celebrate the release of Scenes of a Sexual Nature on DVD, MKP is offering you the chance to win a movie poster signed by Ewan McGregor (Miss Potter), Catherine Tate (Sixty Six) and Adrian Lester (As You Like It), as well as copies of the DVD. This charming romantic comedy follows the stories of seven couples one afternoon on Hampstead Heath and, along with the actors named above, it stars Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually) Sophie Okonedo (Stormbreaker), Tom Hardy, (Marie Antoinette) and Dame Eileen Atkins (The Hours). During the film love is experienced in all shapes and forms, including an elderly couple reflecting on past loves, two forty-somethings on a blind date searching awkwardly for a connection, a gay couple grappling with the idea of adopting a child and a wife confronting the husband she has caught staring at another woman's underwear. To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic film then answer the simple question on the site (link below)!
Competition Closing Date : 12/04/2007. Open to UK and Ireland residents only. Read the terms and conditions before entering.
LONDON -- Sharon Maguire's "Incendiary" has become the first British movie to be bankrolled by Aramid Entertainment Fund, a Cayman Islands-based hedge fund specializing in media finance.
The picture, which starts shooting March 26, stars Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor and Matthew Macfadyen in a contemporary drama about the emotional aftermath of a suicide bombing in London.
Producers are Andy Paterson and Anand Tucker of Archer Street, the team behind "Girl With a Pearl Earring" and "Hilary and Jackie."
Aramid, which specializes in debt finance for film, TV and music projects, is providing 65% of the funding for "Incendiary," budgeted at around $10 million.
The balance of the coin comes from Film4, plus private equity from U.S.-based Bartley Sachs Entertainment, which was brought in by American producer Billy Dietrich. International sales are being handled by Capitol Films.
"Incendiary" is adapted from Chris Cleave's novel about a woman whose life is torn apart when her husband and infant son are killed in a suicide bombing at a soccer match. Her trauma is intensified by the fact that she was committing adultery at the time.
Williams plays the woman and McGregor the journalist with whom she was having an affair. Macfadyen plays her husband's boss, a senior anti-terrorist police officer who becomes a rival for her love.
Paterson said: "We fought hard for the rights to this story because it seemed to us to be a stunningly original, visceral and ultimately life-affirming response to the world we now inhabit. Sharon's screenplay captures the startling humor of Chris Cleave's extraordinary novel, and we're blessed with our dream cast and financing partners, who represent a vision of the future for our battered industry."
Simon Fawcett, chief exec of Aramid Capital Partners, commented: "The production promises to highlight the quality of talent and creativity in the U.K. film industry, and we are delighted to be able to help in a time when the future of film financing in the U.K. is uncertain."
That's a reference to the government's March 2 crackdown on tax avoidance schemes, effectively closing down the so-called GAAP equity funds, which have fueled a boom in U.K. film production over the past couple of years.
The clampdown on GAAP funds is set to increase the demand from British producers for the kind of debt finance offered by Aramid.
Aramid, which launched last September, has raised over $100 million from various hedge funds, and expects to reach $250 million by the end of this year.
The fund lends against the value of tax credits (whether in the U.K., the U.S. or elsewhere) and of pre-sales, as well as providing gap financing against unsold territories, and bridge financing for pre-production and post-production.
According to Fawcett, its "Incendiary" deal involves a combination of all these different loans. Before "Incendiary," Aramid had funded one U.S. production, a low-budget remake of horror pic "It's Alive," and provided bridge financing for several U.S. and Euro projects.
Archer Street developed "Incendiary" with backing from Film4 and the U.K. Film Council.
On March 7, Ewan appeared on Le Grand Journal, in France:
The clip can be seen at Eccentricity Online. The link for the video is on the front page, under "Latest Media" (first row of light-colored boxes, on the right). It's in Windows Media format, zipped, and is about 33 MB.
The clip is in French, and an interpreter talks over Ewan's voice most of the time, but it is possible to make out pretty much everything he says.
Update: There's a second part to the interview. It's a little trickier to get, you must copy and paste the URL below into your browser. It's in Windows Media format, and Ewan is on about 10 min 45 into the show.
The Scotsman has a video archive containing an interview with Ewan on the set of "Nightwatch", talking about what attracts him to a script. The second clip is an interview with reporter Jon Snow, who interviewed Ewan about "Rogue Trader" (in production at the time of the interview), in which he starred as Nick Leeson. The interviews were first broadcast on 23rd April, 1996 and 13th March, 1998.
[...] that the new James Bond, Daniel Craig was to play Lucifer, in the adaptation of the bestselling novel by Glen Duncan, "I, Lucifer". And last we heard, he was still set to do the part.
The story involves God giving Satan one last crack at redemption. He must live out a blameless life as a normal human being. Lucifer, having no intention of taking God up on his offer, negotiates a "try before you buy" period of one month as a human in London, time he intends to spend putting the body, belonging to suicidal writer Declan Gunn, played by Ewan McGregor, through as much sex, drugs and rock and roll he can possibly cram into one month. But the tangible reality of life makes him contemplate reconsidering.
Which sounds like it could make for a cracking good film, and one which could be made within a reasonable budget.
During a radio interview yesterday, Ewan told interviewer Tim Johns that he had recently broken his leg while on his motorbike. "I just had a freak traffic accident on my bike, a little off," Ewan explained. It hasn't put Ewan off riding motorbikes.
Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor, best mates and stars of hit documentary ‘Long Way Round’, will embark on their next intercontinental adventure this summer from John O’Groats, Scotland to Capetown in South Africa in a sequel-of-sorts entitled ‘Long Way Down’.
Fresh from his well-received 2006 project unearthing the pain, frustration and sacrifice that constitutes a shot at the fierce Dakar Rally, Boorman took some time from his busy promotional schedule to tell MCN exclusively about the new trip with his movie-star buddy.
Here’s a sneak preview of the exclusive interview: “‘Long Way Down’ is something that Ewan and I really want to do and it looks like it is going ahead; it must be the ‘drug’ of motorcycles!” he said. “One of the places it seems that everyone wants to visit is Africa. We always said that if we did another ride then that is where we would head and we have talked about it for the last few years.”
“For ‘Long Way Round’ we did a lot of work with Unicef and since the trip we have done a lot more. Ewan went to Malawi and I went to Swaziland to look at what happens to children when they have Aids. A whole generation has gone missing because of Aids.
I think we all need to understand that we are lucky where we are and we have a responsibility. Only people can change people, so Unicef will be a big part of it again for us.”
To read all the details and news about the next leg of the duo’s mega journey, see MCN on Feb 28.
Film star, adventurer and all-round Scottish bloke Ewan McGregor is in the final preparation stages for his latest trip The Long Way Down. McGregor is taking his friend Charlie Boorman along for company, as the pair attempt to navigate from the UK to Cape Town; the most sourthern tip of South Africa.
McGregor reflected on his experiences of his previous trip The Long Way Round: "We rushed ahead at first because we had this schedule of 400 to 500 miles a day. Now I look back at the film of the trip, I think 'For God's sake, look up and enjoy it'. It's a lesson learned for life as well; we all tend to get bogged down in work and other things."
Despite the change of direction, it's little change for the duos choice of bike; this time they're opting for the BMW R1200GS Adventure instead of the R1150GS Adventure they used for their previous excursion.
No doubt there will be a book, a DVD, a T-Shirt, mug a documentary and other merchandise to remind you that life isn't just about sitting in a dull office stirring a mouse and tapping a keyboard and getting your kicks from shaking a Kit Kat from the vending machine.
Take a leaf out of Ewan's book (available in all good bookshops) and bugger off to South Africa on a fourteen thousand pound bike instead.
Ewan McGregor, Nick Nairn, Tom Kitchin and Colin & Justin are prepared to let you into a secret at Somerfield’s store in Davidson Mains branch, Crammond in Edinburgh on Saturday 16th December from 10am to 1pm.
They’ve let their culinary secrets out of the bag.
So now you can buy some of their favourite dishes which the stars have combined into a special table top recipe book for only £6.
And it’s all in a great cause.
They are all supporters of CHAS – the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland. Every penny spent on the book goes straight to CHAS as Somerfield and Foresters have sponsored the book of specially selected dishes.
The recipe book is a great way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Scotland’s first children’s hospice, Rachel House. Each year it costs CHAS almost £5million to run Rachel House, Robin House and the Rachel House at Home service. By buying this recipe book you will be helping CHAS to raise funds so that they can continue to provide the care and support for the children and their families who rely on the charity’s vital services.
The Get Unhooked campaign was developed at Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy by creative director Paul Briginshaw and Malcolm Duffy with agency producer Russell Taylor. Briginshaw and Duffy were inspired by a Jeff Stark’s 1998 short film, Desserts, in which Ewan McGregor’s character is hooked on chocolate eclairs.
Filming was directed by Jeff Stark via Another Film Company, London, with director of photography Ben Davis and producer Cathy Green. Stark told Shots that the hook trick was achieved by attaching the barbed hook to a large prosthetic piece of skin. The main part of the hook was held by a metal plate inside the cheek.
Post production was done at The Moving Picture Company, London.
Sound and music was the responsibility of Peter Challis and Bernd Würtz at A-Bomb, London. Listen out for the sound of whispering voices and the whirring fishing reel.
There are three television adverts from this campaign available on YouTube:
The Weinstein Co. is changing direction with its biopic "Miss Potter."
The Weinstein Co. has scotched a plan to widen to about 300 screens later this month and instead will wait until after Feb. 25's Academy Awards, when it will roll out to between 300 and 500 screens in March.
The movie, which is being distribbed in the U.S. by MGM, will continue to play this weekend on 10 screens.
The distributor sees the film as suitable for upscale suburban auds, which haven't been targeted yet, and hopes March will find those auds hungry for the literary biopic about the children's book author.
"The exit polls have proved that audiences who have seen "Miss Potter" absolutely love the film, so we want to show it at a time when more people can see it," Harvey Weinstein said. "We realize this is a unique strategy but want to give the film the chance it deserves and feel that the market is too crowded right now."
"Miss Potter" was initially released Dec. 29, but soon became lost in a crowded season. The movie bowed on two screens to less than $10,000 in its first three-day frame. After five weeks in release, "Miss Potter" has taken in about $770,000. Its latest per-screen average, off 33, was $3,113. Widest release has come on 38 screens.
The movie's performance also reflects a rough year for specialty films this season. Even pics with rock-solid reviews have been drawing tepid box office, with "Pan's Labyrinth" ($17 million) one of the few specialty films to successfully widen in January.
The move recalled other re-release campaigns, most recently "Cinderella Man," which Universal put back into theaters in the fall after a lackluster June rollout. Movie eventually grossed $61 million.
Weinstein noted that Miramax successfully pulled off similar re-releases for movies such as "Il Postino" and "Like Water for Chocolate."
Yesterday, Ewan was on BBC TV's Blue Peter (it didn't show up when I updated the TV Listings on Monday). Ewan was on for most of the show. One of the features was about Beatrix Potter. They showed a few film clips, but then did their own dramatised Miss Potter story and the funniest thing was a Mr. McGregor's garden with life-size Peter Rabbit, Mr McGregor and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle characters parading around in the background.
After the broadcast, there was a web chat with Ewan. The most interesting question, posted by Welly, was "when are you going to do another musical?? and can it involve kilts?? what colour is your tartan? i do enjoy a good kilt" to which Ewan replied: "My tartan is red and green, and I am in major talks for a West End comeback of Brigadoon."
100+ Theaters across the U.S. will be having a sneak preview of Miss Potter tonight at 7 PM, and you can print a free ticket!
Click here (link to a PDF document) to print passes to any of the "Miss Potter" sneak previews showing at all of the theaters listed below, courtesy of Wild about
Please note, screenings are on a first come basis and that all of the above screenings are ALSO open to PAYING audiences. You have been selected to see the movie for FREE but only if there are seats available before showtime. Wild About Movies does NOT expect sellouts in ANY of the above markets but we strongly suggest arriving at least 45 minutes in advance to ensure admission!
*The PDF which you have printed out will provide you FREE admission with ONE GUEST to ANY of the above listed theaters, Saturday 27 January, on a first come basis! ALL SCREENINGS ARE AT 7:00PM. So plan accordingly!
Atlanta AMC Mansell Crossing Alpharetta Ga
Mesa Harkins Superstition Springs Mesa
Peoria Harkins Arrowhead Fountains Peoria
Scottsdale Hark Shea Scottsdale
Tucson Century El Con Tucson
Boston AMC Boston Common Boston Ma
Boston Regal Fenway Boston Ma
Daners Hollywood Hits Danvers
Buffalo Zurich Pittsford Pittsford Ny
Berkeley Landmark Shattuck 10 Berkeley
Brea Regal Edwards Brea Stadium Brea
Burbank AMC Burbank Burbank
Campbell Timko Camera 7 Campbell
Daly City Century Daly City 20 Daly City
Del Mar Ultr Flower Hill Cinema Del Mar
Dublin Regal Hacienda Crossings 20 Dublin
Emmeryillregal Ua Emery Bay 10 Emeryville
Huntington Beach Century 20 Huntington Beach
La Jolla Landmark La Jolla Village La Jolla
Mountain View Century Cinema 16 Mountain View
Orange Cent Stadium 25 Orange
Palm Desert Ind Cinemas Palme D'or Palm Desert
Pleasant Hill Century Downtown 16 Pleasant Hill
Redwood Century Park 12 Redwood City
Rolling Hills Regal Avenue 13 Rolling Hills
Roseville Century Roseville 14 Roseville
Sacramento Regal Ua Arden Fair 6 Sacramento
San Diego AMC Fashion Valley San Diego
San Luis Obispo S. Cal Downtown Centre San Luis Obispo
San Rafael Century Northgate San Rafael
Santa Barbara Met Paseo Nuevo Santa Barbara
Santa Clara AMC Mercado Santa Clara
Santa Rosa Esp Lakeside Santa Rosa
Temecula S. Cal Movies Experience Temecula
Ventura Cent Downtown Ventura
Walnut Creek Century Downtown Walnut Creek
Westlake Village Mann Village Westlake Village
Chicago & Illinois
Chicago AMC River East Chicago
Lincolnshire Regl City Park Lincolnshire IL
Lombard AMC Yorktown 18 Lombard
Northbrook AMC Northbrook Court Northbrook
Orland Park Marc Orland Park Orland Park
Schaumburg AMC Streets Of Woodfield Schaumburg
S. Barrington AMC South Barrington S. Barrington
Warrenville AMC Canter Warrenville
Cleveland Pfr Cedar Lee Cleveland Heights
Sheffield Heights Regal Cobblestone Sq Sheffield Heights
Denver Ccg Cherry Creek Denver
Denver Regal UA Pavilions Denver
Denver AMC Highland Ranch Highland Ranch
Aventura AMC Aventura Aventura
Boca Muvi Palace Boca Raton
Boca Regal Shadowood Boca Raton
Miami Beach Regal South Beach Miami Beach
Sarasota Regal Hollywood Sarasota
St. Petersburg Muvi Baywalk Petersburg
Sunrise Esp Sunrise Cinema Sunrise
Tampa AMC Veterans Tampa
Louisville Arc Baxter Avenue Louisville KY
Novi Arc Emagine Novi Novi
Sterling Heights AMC Forum Sterling Heights
Ypsilanti Showcase Ann Arbor Ypsilanti
Indianapolis Landmark Keystone Art Indianapolis
Olathe AMC Studio 30 Olathe
Overland Park Leawood Theatre Overland Park
Las Vegas Regal Village Sq 18 Las Vegas
Memphis Paradiso Cinema 14 Memphis
Mequon Marc North Shore 11 Mequon
Edina AMC Southdale 16 Edina
Roseville AMC Rosedale 14 Roseville
Nyc/New Jersey Areas
Eatontown AMC Monmouth Mall Eatontown NJ
Edgewater Edgewater 16 Edgewater NJ
Montclair Clearviewclairidge 6 Montclair NJ
New Brunswick AMC New Brunswick 18 New Brunswick NJ
Brooklyn Cobble Hill Brooklyn
Farmingdale Regal Ua Farmingdale Farmingdale NY
Huntington AMC Shore Huntington NY
Kew Gardens Kew Garden 5 Kew Gardens NY
Port Washington Clearview Washington NY
Stony Brook AMC Stony Brook Stony Brook NY
West Nyack AMC Palisades Center West Nyack
White Plains City Cinema White Plains
Albuquerque Century 14 Albuquerque
Santa Fe Ua Devargas Center 6 Santa Fe
It took more than four years for The Tourist a psychological thriller starring Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor to emerge from the noirish shadows of development hell. In 2002, producers began working on the story of an everyday number cruncher (McGregor) who gets ushered into the underground world of New York sex clubs by a charismatic colleague (Jackman). It bounced from Revolution to MGM before finally dead-ending at Fox. "If you look at Fox's slate, they've got tent poles and comedies," says the film's producer, Arnold Rifkin. "But this is not a
movie where you go get popcorn three times."
Enter Jackman in 2006. "Every actor wants to play the bad guy," explained a grinning Jackman during EW's November visit to the film's Wall Street set. "Even when my character is manipulating people, he's having a blast. I feel like Alan Rickman in Die Hard." Once the actor joined the project,McGregor and Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) jumped aboard. Bolstered by the star power, the producers and first-time feature director Marcel Langenegger were able to secure independent financing. Now, says Rifkin, the once-floundering film is being eyed by several studios and he expects to have a domestic distribution deal within a few weeks.
Despite the story's seemingly lurid premise, don't expect some cheap boobs-and-babes movie. "Marcel kept telling me, 'Yes, we have to work under the constraints of a thriller, but I'm interested in making a love story,'" says Williams, who plays a siren bent on seducing McGregor. "And that's a language I speak."
Sir Paul McCartney stepped out arm in arm with a glamorous brunette for a Burns Night charity dinner at the St Martin's Lane Hotel hosted by Ewan McGregor.
It was, of course, his daughter Mary.
Like her sister Stella, Ms McCartney is a passionate anti-fur campaigner. So Mary must have been alarmed to see at least three fellow guests wearing fur - notably Yasmin Le Bon, Lulu and Bianca Jagger.
Guests were treated to haggis and Irn-Bru while being entertained by the amusingly named Red Hot Chilli Pipers. Partygoers also received a specially-made glass bottle featuring a portrait of Scotland's national bard.
The annual supper raises cash for children's charities Clic Sargent and Children's Hospice Association Scotland.
The official Miss Potter website in Korea is worth visiting. While the UK and US sites seem to have been abandoned, the Korean site is full of pictures and an abundance of video clips. The clips are in English with Korean subtitles below the image. Go check it out!
Note: This article follows Motorbike Mug and Teapot for Ewan (available from the Ewan News archives), first published on December 15, 2006. The following article has been trimmed to remove the details about other stars' mugs and teacups. You can read the full article at The Scotsman.
Ewan McGregor with The chunky coffee set
Picture: Alistair Devine
The Incorporation of Goldsmiths of the City of Edinburgh, which was set up in the 15th century, is the oldest and perhaps most prestigious trade body of its kind in Scotland. Not only does it protect the interests of consumers, it promotes those of goldsmiths, silversmiths and jewellers, which means that it's still doing exactly what it set out to do in the 1400s. The Incorporation also runs the Assay Office, which tests and hallmarks precious metals.
To mark its 550th anniversary, the organisation has come up with a special charity project, Silver of the Stars. Ten distinguished Scottish celebrities from the fields of film, fashion, music, theatre and literature - including Ewan McGregor, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Lulu, Robbie Coltrane, Alexander McQueen and Ian Rankin - have been collaborating with ten of Scotland's finest silversmiths to create unique pieces of silver for that most civilised of moments, a drink with a close friend. The end result is a celebratory collection of stunningly beautiful drinking vessels that is valued at considerably more than £1 million and ranges from the most exquisite teapots and a very butch coffee pot to convivial claret and Irn Bru jugs and decadent goblets.
The stars were each asked to name their favourite drink and the person with whom they would most like to share a refreshment. The answers astonished and amused in equal measures, says project manager Mary Michel, who accompanied award-winning Glasgow photographer Alistair Devine as he captured portraits of the celebrities with their unique pieces.
Robbie Coltrane, for instance, would relish a dram or two with Rembrandt on the Grand Canal in Venice, and Lulu, who says she's crazy about Catherine Tate, wants to have afternoon tea at the Ritz with the comedian.
Should the Silver of the Stars collection eventually be bought by a museum, the proceeds will be divided among various charities. "I hope it will stay in Scotland, because it is absolutely priceless," says Connery. All of the big names involved gave freely of their time.
The answers to ten questions put to each of the stars elicited replies that offer intriguing and sometimes revealing insights into their lives, likes and even loves. They were asked to recall their most memorable drink. In addition, they were invited to name their favourite piece of Scottish art and to speak about what most inspires them. "Their favourite drinks often surprised us," says Michel. Indeed, she agrees, you might have expected such luminaries to opt for silver champagne buckets, say, but they clearly still enjoy cups of tea, coffee and chocolate, as well as Scotland's national drink. Lulu and Spiteri asked their collaborators to create beautifully feminine, non-drip teapots. As for the guys, well, it's boys and their toys - Coltrane and his Cadillacs, Connolly and McGregor with their motorbikes, and Ian Rankin's big bridges. Each design, of course, bears the globally recognised hallmark of the Assay Office, which includes the maker's personal mark, and is signed with the star's autograph.
"A nation is defined by its art," says Michael Laing, an Edinburgh jeweller who is also deacon of the Incorporation of Goldsmiths. As the Silver of the Stars exhibition embarks on a year-long world tour, starting in London on January 31, Laing says he hopes that it will reveal much about the inspirational and innovative centre of excellence that is modern Scotland. "I'm immensely proud of this collection," he says. "It's a snapshot of our time and of talented Scots who are shaping the world today, putting their hallmark on the fields of image, the arts and entertainment."
EWAN McGREGOR The chunky coffee set is by Marion Kane, from West Kilbride. Her work features in the Burrell Collection and Bute House. She used reclaimed motorbike handlegrips in the design, as well as riveting the handles. She also laser-engraved the names of all the countries that McGregor and Charley Boorman visited on their 19,000-mile motorbike trip onto the jug and the registration plates of both bikes on to the mug.
Ewan McGregor is drinking alone from an enormous coffee pot that has been hammered to a leather-like finish, reminiscent of a Victorian Highland picnic set. The handles on the jug and mug remind him of the incredible journey he undertook on his BMW motorbike, when he enjoyed the most memorable drink of his life so far - the strongest cup of coffee he has ever tasted, handed to him at the Ukrainian border after he had spent 14 hours trying to get into the country. Charity CHAS (Children's Hospice Association Scotland).
• Silver of the Stars is at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, from January 31 to March 19. The exhibition will then travel to New York for Tartan Week, then St Petersburg, Beijing and Kyoto, before returning to Edinburgh next year. It will be at the National Museum of Scotland from January 25 until April 28, 2008, to coincide with the 550th anniversary of the Incorporation of Goldsmiths of the City of Edinburgh
Ewan McGregor has joined the voice cast of the weird action figure-powered movie Jackboots on Whitehall, which we first told you about here last month. Already providing voices are Tom Wilkinson, Alan Cumming, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, and Timothy Spall but Ewan will use his star power in the film’s lead.
The movie takes a page from the brilliant and biting Trey Parker/Matt Stone puppet movie Team American World Police and will be filmed entirely using G.I. Joe-style action figures. I guess we’re talking stop-motion here.
Ewan plays a heroic Scottish farmhand who leads a resistance and saves the girl. Also joining the cast is Richard Griffiths, who voices Luftwaffe leader Hermann Goering and Alan Cumming as Hitler. That’s right, Alan Cumming as Hitler. Something about that is pure genius. Timothy Spall plays Churchill.
I’m still surprised that this isn’t just some low-budget novelty. It’s a spoof yes, but one with a increasingly big-time cast and first-time director Edward McHenry has a multi-million budget to work with. If people like McGregor and Cumming are buying into it, maybe they have something.
Ewan McGregor and Richard Griffiths have joined the voice cast of "Jackboots on Whitehall," a WW2 comedy spoof using action figures to imagine what would have happened if the Germans had won the Battle of Britain.
McGregor will voice the lead as a heroic Scottish farmhand who leads the resistance and wins the girl (Rosamund Pike). Griffiths, who won a BAFTA nomination last week, will play Luftwaffe leader Hermann Goering.
Pic is the feature debut of director Edward McHenry, who co-wrote the script with his brother Rory. It's produced by Frank Mannion, co-produced by Jamie English and exec produced by casting agent Debbie McWilliams.
Other voices cast already announced include Richard E. Grant, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall as Churchill and Alan Cumming as Hitler.
The Doctor, the Tornado and the Kentucky Kid on the Big Screen
The Doctor, the Tornado and the Kentucky Kid, narrated by Ewan, is playing at the X-Dance Festival in Park City, Utah on January 21.
If you’re in the area, don’t miss the chance to see DTK on the big screen, on Sunday Jan 21 at 2.20pm. X-Dance is at 333 Main Street, Park City, Utah – on the second floor of the Main Street Mall, opposite the Egyptian Theater. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more info, visit the X-Dance website: www.x-dance.com.
If you can’t make it to Utah next week, remember that the double disc Collector’s Edition of The Doctor, the Tornado and the Kentucky Kid is available now at www.dtkmovie.com. The Collector’s Edition won’t be available from most other websites until February.
More big-screen events are planned in the coming months – the next destination is Daytona Bike Week, where DTK will be screened on the track jumbotron.
Just Jared has pictures of Ewan, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams that were taken today as they continued to film scenes for The Tourist on the streets of Madrid, Spain. They shot around the capital’s best known locations such as La Plaza Mayor, the Fine Arts Museum, and the Paseo del Prado.
Who birthed Peter Rabbit? The hypnotic, renowned and artfully illustrated Peter Rabbit stories didn’t just sprout to life on their own. A diligent writer--an authoress, in fact--was the cryptic scribe behind-the scenes; but just who was she? Miss Potter uncovers a buried tale about this 20th century risk-taker who became one of the world’s most successful children’s writers, during a time where women of her class were expected to marry successful men--and settle down.
Oscar-winner (Cold Mountain) Renée Zellweger deftly plays English writer and artist Beatrix Potter, a talented and independent woman living in the intellectually and socially confining circumstances of Victorian England. Finding a publisher for her books becomes an arduous task until she finds an enterprising firm that agrees to give her stories a chance, and a visionary editor, Norman Wayne (Ewan McGregor), who develops her books and shares a zest and enthusiasm for her creations. Hollywood.com caught up with the stars of this innovative period film that will slyly capture your heart.
Hollywood.com: Beatrix Potter’s books have long had an impact on children’s lives. Do you remember the books as a child?
Renée Zellweger: I knew a couple of her stories. I didn’t know all of them, and I knew absolutely nothing about the woman. I remember the images. I remember Peter Rabbit being there. My mom read the books to my brother and I, but not all of them. There were other children’s books and authors who were more prominent in our adolescence.
Ewan McGregor: I had them [the stories] read to me as a child, I’m sure. I don’t remember the particular stories from when I was a kid, but like Renée, and like all the rest of us, I’m very familiar with her illustrations, the images.
HW: Do you feel Beatrix and Norman both went beyond their own stereotypes and developed their own individual voices?
EM: I think there’s something interesting about Norman that when he meets Beatrix, his brothers have said that they’re going to publish her book and immediately [Beatrix] insists, “…Well it must be like this, like, this and like this.” And I imagine she must have been quite a tough cookie to deal with. So when she meets Norman, he’s so nervous about being a publisher, but he immediately meets her demands of enthusiasm with those of his own because he seems to be like a perfect match in terms of their passion towards her work. I don’t get the sense that he was trying to prove himself.
HW: Do you think Miss Potter’s eccentricities helped her become a great artist?
RZ: Oh, I don’t know. I’m sure. [Pauses] I don’t know how to answer your question, from a general perspective. I could only tell you from my own experiences--and I wouldn’t answer it very eloquently because I’m not that self-aware. Well, I had a lovely conversation with Ewan the other day, about anything that might be strange about myself. I wish I had something to blame and then I thought oh wait, “I’m an actress!” [Laughs]. Now it all makes sense! I don’t know which would come first, I don’t know. I have met a lot of actors. I have worked with a lot of creative people who need their medium. They need it. It’s their basis of foundation here. It’s what helps them cope. It’s how they channel their emotions or their inability to deal with other things. It’s the way that they communicate. It’s an outlet. It gives them stability. It gives them purpose. I’ve met those people. I don’t think that I’m one of them. It’s an important creative medium for me, and it stops there. I don’t know that it is my first medium, this one, the acting. It was more accidental, but it has become very important to me in my life and I do need it. I can’t explain to you why.
HW: So perhaps it was more that Beatrix needed her art--to really live a full life?
RZ: As far as my perceptions about Beatrix, I just imagined that she had such a rich imagination because she had such an isolated adolescence and that she was living within such rigid parameters that were set by her mother in terms of expectations that didn’t interest her or didn’t come naturally to her. But that was my perception of it anyhow: that she needed the characters as a creative outlet.
HW: Do you think it’s strange that Beatrix speaks to her characters?
RZ: I don’t think she’s weird. I had this conversation earlier. I don’t think it’s strange at all that she speaks to her work when she’s in that creative place, when she’s conjuring this world in her mind--this imaginary world. [Smiles] It’s not strange at all to me. I love her eccentricities. I think she’s brilliant. I think she’s completely complicated in the most wonderful way and I would have loved to have known her.
HW: Can you tell us about your decision to work together again after Down with Love?
EM: When Renée and I were making Down With Love, we had a fantastic time in that movie and I think it’s safe to say we’re both really proud of it and certainly love it, and we had a great deal of fun. But, the humor in the film was a very specifically kind of ‘60s type of comedy and kind of went against the grain a little bit for us. And it is difficult to learn, and if you didn’t “time it” absolutely perfectly, it didn’t work. So, it was quite hard work and occasionally we would be struggling through a scene and look at each other and go, “Gosh, we wish we could just be doing something so straightforward playing a scene!”
RZ: It’s all true and I agree we had the best time. It was hilarious because we were working in a different way when you’re doing stylized work like that. We had no point of reference whether or not we had nailed it because there’s no way to tell. [We’d hear], “O.k., cut! Moving on…” and we’d look at each other and say, “What do you think? We got it? I don’t know…uhhh…I don’t know uhhh…” [Laughs] … We thought how great would it be to just ‘act’ and see what happened and so…there was a bunch of [projects], and then I read the script and Chris and I had been discussing.
HW: What authors have inspired you in your real life?
RZ: That’s really interesting. I don’t know specifically. It changes, you know. You pick something up and find it completely inspiring because it’s a different kind of prose. I like African-American writers and I like Southern writers. There are elements of the subculture that are exquisitely rich, just historically. There’s a musicality to Langston Hughes’ work that just jumps off the page and it makes me think, I need a pen, I need a pen! He’s probably my favorite. There’s just so much emotion. It’s kind of like in Latin Culture; you find this kind of passion for all elements of life. I find that the same in African American writers, just this passion for things. Love… I need a pen! I need a pen! [Laughs].
HW: Do you consider Miss Potter to be a “chick-flick?”
RZ: I don’t think this is a chick-flick at all. I think it’s far more complex than that. It’s not meant to be ‘female entertainment’. It’s an important story and it’s a beautiful story, and I don’t think I’ve met a guy yet who has seen it who didn’t connect to it or cried. It’s just real. It’s a human story. I think it’s the most powerful kind of story to take advantage of the impact this medium can have in terms of moving a person…making yourself aware in a way…making you recognize something different…making you question things…learning something, growing as a person. I don’t think it’s a chick-flick. I think it underestimates it in a terrible way. I think we should hear what the rest has to say.
HW: Can you talk about Beatrix’s environmental interests and contributions?
RZ: She was a founding member of the National Trust. I was very surprised. I knew nothing about it and just recently I was reading about the things that she did with the girl scouts in terms of accommodating them--helping them to learn how to survive on their own in the wild. I just didn’t know the magnitude of the contributions she had made. I didn’t know that [as a land preservationist] she was responsible partially for the future of [farming]. Still, I can’t tell you too much. I kind of stopped with gathering my information that pertained to this part of her life, because it was such a finite period--and there was just so much information.
You can buy this gorgeous poster of Ewan from the American Library Association for $16 ($14.40 if you're a member). The bad news is they only ship in the United States, though they have several international sites that also sell it (Canadian fans: the poster is available for sale now!). Check out the site for the details!
Sunday | January 7, 2007 Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Fireworks, a 1937 traffic stopping Ford coupé, Moet and Chandon flowing continuously, the legendary Byron Lee and a declaration by The Event Place , all rang in the New Year in Montego Bay on Sunday night.
Jamaica's tourism capital without a doubt had its fair share of excitement this New Year's Eve commencing with the chic and elegant ball at the home of the rich and famous, Round Hill Hotel and Villas.
As is customary, the resort attracted celebrated English actor, Ewan McGregor, the McCain family; of the one and only McCain Frozen Foods empire in Canada, Europe's Lord and Lady Gould, United States Ambassador Brenda LaGrange Johnson and husband Howard, who like all other emissaries before her time, obviously loves the west!
Hosted by the dapper Josef Forstmayr and his svelte cousin Katrin Casserly, Round Hill flew in the Cuban group, Habana Brothers, to stimulate and accentuate the moves to merengue and salsa.
Round Hill's fireworks aroused the quiet neighbouring Hopewell community with its shimmering lights and the citizens as far as downtown Montego Bay experienced the treat.
This was the party that offered a gastronomic feast, topped with musical explosion of the best in the business.
Over on the Hip Strip, Gloucester Avenue, traffic went at a snail's pace admiring the innovative Blue Beat team which had transformed the area into the 1930s era.
Just outside its doors, the Jazz lounge, parked a 1937 Limited Edition, blue Ford coupé, a favourite of Al Capone and Howard Hughes and a 1971 red Triumph, which was driven by Dustin Hoffman during the filming of Papillion.
Blue Beat's staff were adorned in clothing befitting the period, while the atmosphere inside the joint resembled somewhere in the midst of New Orleans.
However, the party of parties, ringing in the New Year was Sonny Rankine's annual ball at Caribbean Showplace. At 3:00 a.m., Hummers, F150s, and all makes of SUVs, were just about rolling in.
Women were dressed to the nine, men tried with immense success to outdo the ladies and Moet and Chandon, Alize and Cristal were the drinks of choice.
At 5:00 a.m., Rankine, friend 'Bighead' and a host of supporters were just ready to party.
One of the surprise delights of the late Academy viewing season, at least for many female members, has been Miss Potter. My pals weren't raving about Renée Zellweger's purse-lipped performance as the determined illustrator/children's book author Beatrix Potter, though. No, they were swooning over Ewan McGregor as her handsome editor and stalwart swain. The fresh-faced Scotsman (who sang so well in Moulin Rouge; I want to see him in the musical Guys and Dolls) has been promoting the movie and tells New York that while he enjoys going full frontal in his movies, it didn't quite work for Miss Potter. And one of his tricks for staying sane on the road: cybersex (with his wife, natch).
The Missing Face is a documentary made by Ewan and Charley Boorman for UNICEF when they visited Malawi and Swaziland at the beginning of last year.
You can download the complete episode for £2.50 in DVD quality (843 MB), in "portable" quality (269 MB -- for an iPod or Zune portable device), or for a mobile phone (101 MB). Be sure to check if you have the required software or hardware to play it before you download.
McGregor and Jackman to film 'The tourist' in Madrid
Thursday, January 4, 2007 By: thinkSPAIN
Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams will arrive in Madrid over the course of the next few days to film 'The tourist', in which McGregor will portray a somewhat lonely accountant whose life is transformed when he meets the character played by Jackman; a rich lawyer who takes him to a mysterious brothel called 'La Lista'.
There, he meets and falls in love with the girl of his dreams, but when she goes missing, he becomes the principal suspect for her possible murder and the robbery of a fortune.
The film will be directed by Marcel Langenegger, and will be shot at some of the capital's best known locations such as La Plaza Mayor, the Fine Arts Museum, and the Paseo del Prado.
I didn't exactly thrill to Miss Potter at the advance screening, but after several hours trapped in an overheated hotel suite awaiting an audience with one of its stars, I'm beginning to wonder if in fact it's one of the worst movies ever made. The questions that bothered me in the cinema have returned, newly invigorated, and are chasing each other around my head like small, bright-eyed rodents in mobcaps and starched aprons. The first is: what on earth is Ewan McGregor doing in this drippy little movie about Beatrix Potter? I really must ask him, if he ever shows up.
Miss Potter is the first film Chris Noonan has directed since Babe, 12 years ago, and, on paper, it looks promising. No one could dispute that Zellweger can do period films (Cold Mountain) and an English accent (Bridget Jones); and no one could argue with the supporting cast: McGregor, Emily Watson, Bill Paterson, Anton Lesser, Phyllida Law. Someone, somewhere, must have had high hopes for this project, which portrays Potter's sudden development from shy spinster into the publishing sensation of 1902. It's just puzzling that the end result has all the emotional oomph of a TV movie. There's the usual pickled English-Heritage ambience (drawing rooms painted in Farrow & Ball shades, snow on Christmas Day, road surfaces you could eat your dinner off), but once you've adjusted to that, there are two other problems.
First, the script: too earnest to appeal to children, too twee to persuade their parents. Second, Renée Zellweger. I've always had a nagging feeling she reminds me of someone, and watching Miss Potter, it came to me in a flash. Those up-and-under glances from those tiny little boot-button eyes; the cheeks apparently designed for berry-storage; the snuffly yet squeaky voice - it was Mrs Tiggy-Winkle all along. (It does not help that every so often, Miss Potter glances down at her sketchbook creations -who may be wrinkling their noses at her and performing little capers on the paper - and says things like: "Peter, do behave!" and "Jemima, stop that!")
Zellweger's Potter departs the movie exactly as she enters it, a free-spirited eccentric. But along the way she revolutionises children's publishing, flies the flag for female emancipation, saves the Lake District from developers and has a (thankfully chaste) sub-Shadowlands love affair with her publisher, Norman Warne - which is where McGregor comes in. Basically, his is the Debra Winger role, only with lashings of Hungarian moustache wax, and - perplexingly - no deathbed scene.
Fair enough: Potter never even knew Warne, her fiancé, was ill (he died very suddenly of leukaemia while she was on holiday with her parents). But the whole point of a role like this in a film like this, a film that isn't overly bothered with historical accuracy, is a deathbed scene, isn't it? That's another thing I must ask McGregor, if he ever turns up.
Finally, here he comes, striding down the corridor. His gleaming hair is very stiff and coiffed, like Action Man's, and he's wearing skinny black, with a large silver skull on his belt buckle. When I ask about the appeal of Miss Potter, he flashes me that huge clenched Pepsodent grin and says that he was sent the script by Renée, his co-star in Down With Love (an affectionate pastiche of those snappy, arch Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies), and he had loved working with her on that, she's fabulous, plus it's always very flattering to be sent a script by another actor, especially if you've already worked with them. "And when I read the script, I was enchanted by it. It was a charming, beautiful story, tragic but beautiful. Norman's a great character to play, especially for his time." Certainly, all sorts of liberties have been taken with the character of Norman Warne. Although the historical Warne was an established editor in the family firm, Noonan's interpretation has him sidelined by his older brothers, anxiously inching into the business and cutting his teeth on Potter's book after years spent at home with his sister and invalid mother. McGregor has played real historical figures before - James Joyce in Nora, Nick Leeson in Rogue Trader - and has said in the past that this is a "terrible responsibility", but his Warne is pure 21st-century metrosexual: sensitive, fond of bunnies in pinnies, good at tea parties.
When asked what obligation he felt to the original Norman Warne, McGregor says he was interested in the role because Warne was so unlike his peers. "Norman is quite an unusual guy, and I felt that this was because he'd spent so much time with women. He'd been at home looking after his invalid mum, and with his sister. He was used to the company of women, whereas most men in that period weren't at all."
And yet the qualities that made him unusual - his ease with women, his sensitivity - seem to have been written into the screenplay, rather than adapted from history.
"Well," counters McGregor, "of course I feel an obligation to the real Norman, but the real Norman is the one I'm playing in the screenplay. We put him on screen, in the confines of our script, and I'm playing Norman in that story." And so, for McGregor, while the film purports to be inspired by reality, the Norman Warne up there on screen has precious little to do with the character preserved in his firm's accountancy ledgers, or in the letters he exchanged with Potter.
But if that's your position, if you're playing fast and loose with historical fact for dramatic purposes, why not go the whole hog? Why not invent for your made-up character a deathbed scene? I tell McGregor I believe he was robbed.
"You think?" he says, noncommittally.
Yes, I say: I was expecting a proper tear-stained goodbye. It would have rounded off the arc of the story quite nicely: clasped hands on the coverlet, a death rattle, all that.
"Uh-huh. Mmm. Well, she wasn't there when he died, so ..."
So that's one liberty that no one felt able to take? "You'd have to ask the screenwriter - I've no idea," says McGregor, with sudden frosty disdain. This seems a good moment to change the subject. And as soon as we stop talking about Miss Potter, he becomes rather fun.
Ewan McGregor is 35. He was born in Crieff, Perthshire ("very conservative - a lot of farmers and a lot of tweed") to two teachers who ran the local film society. At 16, fired by the example of his actor uncle Denis Lawson, he left school and landed a spear-carrier role in Perth Rep's staging of A Passage to India. Long before graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, he was being fought over by casting directors, and film work came thick and fast after his appearance in Dennis Potter's Lipstick on Your Collar: Shallow Grave, The Pillow Book, Trainspotting (his Hollywood calling card), Velvet Goldmine, Moulin Rouge, the Star Wars prequels. For a while, it looked as though we had a fully fledged superstar on our hands, a bankable actor with daring tastes as well as prodigious talents. But over the past two years, his star has dimmed a little, owing to disappointments such as The Island and Stay. Having said that, a decent cameo from McGregor - for example, his brief appearance in Stormbreaker - is still worth two hours of someone else's performance.
Is he slowing down? On the contrary. "I'm very easily pleased with stuff I read," he says cheerfully. "It's very black and white for me - scripts either go in the bin after five pages or I want to do them. There are lots of films I've said I'd like to make, and they're all in various stages of being financed or struggling to get financed." (The new Woody Allen film, Cassandra's Dream, is already in the can, and he is midway through shooting The Tourist with Hugh Jackman.) Although he often ends up working abroad, his home is very definitely in north London, with his French wife, production designer Ève Mavrakis, and their three daughters: Clara, 10; Esther, five; and Jamyan, four, adopted from Mongolia last spring.
Over the past few years, McGregor has fallen out of love with big studio pictures. In work terms, nothing has yet topped the intense experience of his third film, Peter Greenaway's The Pillow Book (1996): the way the set looked like a Japanese painting, the freedom he had with the script. "I've learned that what I really like is being involved in someone's vision. And the very big films become lots of people's visions, and the politics get really annoying. There's always, like, eight producers . . . and you're getting notes from the director that you know are coming from one of the fucking producers behind the monitor. You just feel it. I've got such a keen sense now - I just know if it's a producer's note. You see directors being humiliated by their lack of power."
When he needs a shot of autonomy himself, McGregor always has his motorbikes. "I had this childhood craze for bikes, the shape of them, the sound of them, the idea of being able to ride one. I still wonder at it, that I've got a licence." In 2004, inspired by Ted Simon's book Jupiter's Travels, he and a friend biked 20,000 miles through Europe, Mongolia and Canada, fundraising and visiting Unicef projects. Next year, they plan to do another trip, this time from John O'Groats to Cape Town. (Ève, evidently tiring of her role as a biking widow, is learning to ride, too, and will join them for the stretch between Malawi and Victoria Falls.) "Your life just becomes really simple," says McGregor. "Petrol in your tank, food, somewhere to sleep - that's it, that's what you need. There's something really nice about that simplicity."
As for the bikes, he has eight, which sounds rather Hollywood, but none is particularly flash. Most are reconstituted eBay wrecks (his positive feedback is, he says with satisfaction, 100%). A perfect day would involve taking each one out, one after the other, like a jockey exercising a string of horses: a hack of 10, 15 miles, the same route each time, just to keep the batteries topped up. "I love the feeling of riding them, the state of mind I get into, bumbling along on a bike. I find myself really at peace." He gets quite excited, describing his latest eBay purchase: 'An old 1950s bike that didn't work, and I took it completely apart in my shed, like a big Airfix kit. I've rebuilt it, and it works now. Hours and hours went by in my shed ... It was like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Building. Brilliant."
There's a tiny pause, and then - being a decent sort of cove - he clears his throat and adds: 'OK, I cheated, someone rebuilt the engine for me - but I did the rest".
Exclusive Video Interviews: McGregor, Zellweger, Noonan and Watson on Miss Potter!
Written by Stephanie Sanchez Thursday, 28 December 2006
During the press day for The Weinstein Company's newest release, Miss Potter, in New York, IESB's Marshall Crook sat down to talk with the cast including Ewan McGregor and Renée Zellweger about working on the film.
Click on the link below and scroll down a bit for the links to the interviews.