Actor Ewan McGregor, who plays Henry in The Real Thing, speaks with Education Dramaturg Ted Sod about his role in The Real Thing.
Ted Sod: Let's start with some biographical information where were you born and educated?
Ewan McGregor: I grew up in a small town called Crieff in Scotland. I left school when I was 16 and got a job working backstage. Occasionally, if there was a one-line part or a little acting role I would get that. The first thing I remember having a line in was a production of Pravda and from there I went to a one-year theater arts course in Kirkcaldy, Fife, which was a really solid theater training we would have to construct sets, make costumes, advertise the shows. We would all have an acting role and a production role. It was a really good theater arts course for people who were too young to get into drama school. After that, I went to London and spent three years at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. One term into my third year I got cast in Dennis Potter's series, Lipstick on Your Collar. I left college to do that and I was off and running.
TS: Did you have any teachers who you felt were influential?
EM: Yes, Patsy Rodenberg. She's the only person I'd ever go to really. I went to her for a few movie roles when I wanted to do something with my voice, and I went to her another time when I was doing a play.
TS: I believe one of your uncles is also in the business.
EM: Yes. And the only other actor to come out of Crieff, to the best of my knowledge, is my uncle Denis Lawson. He's my mother's brother and was my inspiration once I decided to become an actor and has remained my inspiration throughout my life really.
TS: You worked with him on a play. Am I correct about that?
EM: After leaving drama school I spent seven years making movies and TV shows and I wanted to go back to the stage, but I was terrified after such a long break. I went to my Uncle Denis and I said, "Look, I really want to go back onstage, but I want you to direct me because I'll be terrified and I'd be happier if you were in the room." He found this great play that he'd done in the '60s entitled Little Malcolm and his Struggle Against the Eunuchs by David Halliwell. For the first time back on stage in so long it was a real kick up the ass. It was a great cast and such an amazing experience.
TS: Do you still feel a bit of terror going on the stage?
EM: Everybody's nervous to go onstage. I can't imagine it would be quite as exciting if you weren't. I think it's part of the process for me. I never walked onstage totally without some sort of nerves or adrenaline running. And I wouldn't want it any other way, really.
TS: Talk about the role of Henry in The Real Thing. What attracted you to it?
EM: Well, I met Sam Gold, the director, and I wanted to work with him. I knew him by his reputation and when I spent time with him, I felt like he was someone that I could work with and feel comfortable with. He sent me some scripts. After reading some things that were still in development, he sent me Stoppard's The Real Thing. Luckily for me, I suppose, I've never seen the play. I read it without any preconceptions. I just totally fell in love with the character of Henry. I love his mind and his language and all his relationships and observations about life and love. I'm absolutely drawn to him and I find every time I read it that there's another little gem in there that I discover for the first time. Right now I haven't got the bigger picture of it because we haven't even begun to rehearse, but I feel like it's an extraordinary play. It's very accessible. Stoppard is a very clever writer.
TS: Is it complicated as an artist yourself to play a character who is an artist, or is it easier?
EM: No, I don't think it's complicated to play artists because in a way we know what it feels like to sit in that place of creativity. I've played a lot of writers and I think it's because writers like to write about writing. And in this play, there's even discussion about what good writing is and why it's important the respect of words that writers have. It's Stoppard, a very brilliant writer, writing about his love of writing.
TS: Is there any kind of research or preparation that you have to do other than reading the text?
EM: I just threw myself into the text. I've been attached to the play for over a year, so I've been reading it and re-reading it. I'm familiar with it in a good way - more than I've ever been with a text before rehearsals. I'm feeling super-excited. And those horrible nightmares I'd experienced before rehearsals, I haven't experienced them at all. I absolutely think it's because I've had so much time to steep myself in the words. I've enjoyed it very much. Every time I open the script I am provoked into thinking about the things that Stoppard wants me to think about.
TS: Will you talk about Henry's relationship to the women in his life? What do you make of his relationship with his teenage daughter, Debbie?
EM: I think Henry's very close to Debbie. I think he absolutely adores her his only daughter. I think the scene where she leaves to go off with a young man is one of the tenderest, most beautifully written scenes I've ever read in my life. It's the scene that we all wish we had with our own daughters. I stopped off in London to have lunch with Tom Stoppard before coming back to America and I thanked him for it. I said, "I'm looking forward particularly to saying that speech every night." There's an absolute beauty in what he tells her about being in love - the way he opens up and tells her about what our lovers expect of us and what being a lover is about. It's quite incredible, open and intimate.
TS: I find Debbie very mature for her age. I expect she will be the window into the play for some of our school audiences.
EM: She's completely the child of an actor and a writer. She is absolutely the offspring of people who are very interested in themselves.
TS: What about Charlotte and Annie? They're very different women - don't you think?
EM: Yes, I think they are very different. Charlotte seems somewhat embittered by her relationship with Henry. I mean, she's had nine affairs. And she assumes that he is having affairs left, right and center, although he isn't until this one with Annie. Charlotte thinks that there is no such thing as true love or commitment, only bargains. She suggests that they're idiots for believing in love. And Henry doesn't believe that. He says, "It's the kind of idiocy I like." I assume that we've got to accept that it's not the real thing between Charlotte and Henry and what's happening between Henry and Annie is.
Roundabout Theatre Company will soon present Tom Stoppard's Tony Award-winning play The Real Thing, directed by Sam Gold. The Real Thing, starring Ewan McGregor as "Henry," Maggie Gyllenhaal as "Annie," Cynthia Nixon as "Charlotte" and Josh Hamilton as "Max," begins preview performances on Thursday, October 2, 2014 and opens officially on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway (227 West 42nd Street). This is a limited engagement.
The company recently met the press and BroadwayWorld's Randy Rainbow was on hand to chat with the full gang. Check out what they had to say about the play below!
The Real Thing returns to Broadway in a stirring and sensual new production. This Tony Award-winning play by Tom Stoppard (The Coast of Utopia, Arcadia) first seduced audiences in London and New York nearly 30 years ago. Henry is a playwright not so happily married to Charlotte, the lead actress in his play about a marriage on the verge of collapse. When Henry's affair with their friend Annie threatens to destroy his own marriage, he discovers that life has started imitating art. After Annie leaves her husband so she and Henry can begin a new life together, he can't help but wonder whether their love is fiction or The Real Thing. Delectably witty and deeply affecting, The Real Thing takes a daring glimpse at relationships, fidelity, and the passions that often blur our perception of love.
Tom Stoppard's relationship with Roundabout Theatre Company includes Broadway productions of The Real Inspector Hound and The Fifteen Minute Hamlet. This fall Roundabout will also present the New York debut of Mr. Stoppard's romantic drama Indian Ink at the Laura Pels Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre.
Son of a Gun director Julius Avery on working with Ewan McGregor in WA-shot film
August 16 2014 By Kristy Symonds, Entertainment Reporter
Ewan McGregor and director Julius Avery, right, on the set of Son of a Gun.
Shooting a film in WA was no easy task, but Pemberton-born Son of Gun director Julius Avery says the final product was well worth it.
Speaking ahead of the sold-out Australian premiere of his debut feature film at opening night of CinefestOZ on Wednesday, Avery said it paid off, thanks to WA’s unique landscape.
The crime thriller, which stars Scottish actor Ewan McGregor and Australian Brenton Thwaites, was shot over three months last year in locations including Perth and Kalgoorlie.
“We really wanted to shoot in Western Australia,” Avery said. “It’s where I’m from and it’s where the story is from and I think it was all worth it.
“I think people really respond to something that looks different and people haven’t seen Perth or Western Australia like this before.
“People have seen a lot of crime and action films coming out of Melbourne and Sydney, but Perth has got such a unique feel to it – it’s just a different vibe.”
Although about 80 per cent of the cast and crew working on the film were WA-based, Avery said it was a big undertaking to bring over and accommodate the rest.
He said it would have been impossible to mimic the look and feel of his home state elsewhere.
“The great thing about Western Australia is the locations and it’s a growing industry and there are some really talented crew there,” he said.
Avery, whose 2008 short film Jerrycan collected a jury prize at Cannes, dubbed McGregor the “anti-star” for his hard work and openness on Son of a Gun, which hits cinemas in October and is one of six finalists up for CinéfestOZ’s inaugural $100,000 Film Prize.
“He didn’t want to hang out on the couch in his caravan,” said Avery. “He wanted to hang out with the crew and eat lunch with everyone.”
He said the Star Wars actor’s attitude brought out the best in everyone.
“It was such a great experience creatively, but also just as a human he’s an amazing guy,” he said. “Everyone felt like they could approach Ewan and ask for advice or share ideas.”
Avery said he was looking forward to seeing the film with an audience at the festival, which runs until Sunday.
Juggling some angry Russians, the British MI5, his impossibly leggy wife and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) must traverse the globe armed only with his good looks and special charm in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.
Directed by David Koepp (who directed Depp in “Secret Window”), the movie co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Oliver Platt, Aubrey Plaza, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, and Olivia Munn. The film is adapted from the anthology The Mortdecai Trilogy written by Kyril Bonfiglioli, which suggests that all involved are shooting for a franchise, if along goofy lines. A similar formula was employed for “Pirates Of The Caribbean” series, so no one should scoff.
Thoughts? Are you all in for this action spy comedy? We’ll find out next year. Lionsgate opens “Mortdecai” February 6, 2015.
Tickets for Ewan’s The Real Thing available for Email Club Members
June 26 2014
Roundabout Theatre Company has announced that tickets for the upcoming production of The Real Thing (starring Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Cynthia Nixon) are available to members of the Roundabout Email Club for an exclusive pre-sale period. Join the Roundabout Email Club at www.roundabouttheatre.org before July 6 to be eligible for this exclusive pre-sale for Roundabout’s 2014-2015 productions.
All Roundabout productions are first made available to subscribers and donors. Whether you are interested in the best value or VIP experiences, Roundabout has a package option for you. Visit roundabouttheatre.org or call 212-719-1300 for more info.
Tickets for The Real Thing are released for general sale at 10am on Sunday, July 13. Tickets will be available by calling 212-719-1300, online at www.roundabouttheatre.org, and in person at Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre box office (227 West 42nd Street).
THE REAL THING
Previews Begin October 2, 2014
Opening Night is October 30, 2014
On Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre
Single tickets for The Real Thing range in price from $67-$137
The Real Thing returns to Broadway starring Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal & Cynthia Nixon in a stirring and sensual new production directed by Sam Gold. This Tony Award-winning play by Tom Stoppard (The Coast of Utopia, Arcadia) first seduced audiences in London and New York nearly 30 years ago. Henry is a playwright not so happily married to Charlotte, the lead actress in his play about a marriage on the verge of collapse. When Henry’s affair with their friend Annie threatens to destroy his own marriage, he discovers that life has started imitating art. After Annie leaves her husband so she and Henry can begin a new life together, he can’t help but wonder whether their love is fiction or the real thing. Delectably witty and deeply affecting, The Real Thing takes a daring glimpse at relationships, fidelity, and the passions that often blur our perception of love.
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The Real Thing’s Ewan McGregor to Narrate BBC Radio 2 Show About Ford, April 17
April 3 2014
Star of Broadway’s upcoming show The Real Thing, Ewan McGregor will be narrating Mad About The Mustang on BBC Radio 2 on April 17, says the Daily Mail.
The program “tells the story on how Ford developed the car and launched it in showrooms on April 17, 1964”.
McGregor recently wrapped production on Jane’s Got a Gun and is currently filming Mortdecai opposite Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow. His other upcoming movie projects include Born to Be King, Last Days in the Desert, Our Kind of Traitor and Kill the Trumpet Player.
He can currently be seen on the big screen in John Wells’ film adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play August: Osage County. Among his other recent film credits are Jack the Giant Slayer, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Beginners and more.
McGregor will star this fall on Broadway in The Real Thing alongside Maggie Gyllenhaal and Cynthia Nixon. He also starred in the West End’s 2005 production of Guys And Dolls.
Next on the agenda for Phillip Noyce is American Pastoral, based on the Philip Roth novel about a successful Jewish-American businessman whose upper middle class life is ruined by the social and political turmoil of the 1960s during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.
He’s wanted to make the film for a dozen years but only now has managed to secure the finance from Lakeshore Entertainment. The difference-maker was securing Ewan McGregor as the lead. Shooting is due to start in Pittsburgh next March.
Ewan McGregor: The beating that set me on course for stardom
Published: Wed, February 12, 2014 By Gavin Docherty
The Perth-born actor was just 16 and preparing for two separate drama school auditions when he was attacked by a thug on the city’s underground.
“I was going to a house party in Glasgow with some friends when this drunk got on the tube train,” he said.
“He walked into a pillar and I made a joke about it. It was the worst thing I could have ever said. He decided when I got off he was going to kick the s*** out of me, and that is what he did.”
Two weeks later, McGregor, then still a pupil at Morrison’s Academy in Crieff, was being drilled by his uncle, actor Denis Lawson, for his audition piece, but was unable to understand the concept of acting.
“My uncle said, ‘I want you to think about when you were beaten up in Glasgow, how humiliated you felt’.”
McGregor explained how starting to feel that pain and upset in his audition won him a place in a year-long course at Kirkcaldy, leading eventually to graduation from LAMDA and his TV debut in drama Lipstick on Your Collar.
McGregor, 42, addressing a Screen Actors Guild Foundation in Los Angeles, said it became a launch pad to his film career.
Reflecting on the frightening assault, McGregor added: “We were teuchters from the Highlands, small-town people who went to the big city.
“That experience certainly helped me with my speech.
“The words and feelings were suddenly connected to the text. It was a realisation of the power of acting.”
Maggie Gyllenhaal to star with Ewan McGregor in The Real Thing
February 11, 2014 By David Ng
Maggie Gyllenhaal will play the role originated by Glenn Close on Broadway in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, which is set to open Oct. 30 in a production by the Roundabout Theatre in New York.
The revival production, which also will feature Ewan McGregor in the role originated in New York by Jeremy Irons, will mark Gyllenhaal’s Broadway debut, although she has acted on stage before, including productions of Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya at downtown New York’s Classic Stage Company as well as the Tony Kushner play Homebody/Kabul at the Mark Taper Forum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
The Real Thing, which will run at the American Airlines Theatre, is a comedy about infidelity and acting that features meta-structural devices. Gyllenhaal will play the role of Annie, who is having an extramarital affair with a playwright (McGregor).
The actors appeared together in the 2010 movie Nanny McPhee Returns.
Previews of The Real Thing are scheduled to begin Oct. 2. The production will be directed by Sam Gold.
Stoppard’s play was first performed in London in 1982 with Felicity Kendal in the role of Annie. The show reached Broadway in 1984 with a cast that included Irons, Close, Christine Baranski, Peter Gallagher and a young Cynthia Nixon.
A 2000 Broadway revival starred Stephen Dillane and Jennifer Ehle.
Berlin: Ewan McGregor, Tye Sheridan To Spend Last Days In The Desert
Wednesday, 5 February 2014 By Nancy Tartaglione, International Editor
Albert Nobbs helmer Rodrigo Garcia is set to direct Last Days In The Desert, a co-production from Mockingbird Pictures and Division Films. Ewan McGregor has boarded to play the dual roles of a holy man and a demon who must confront his own fate after an encounter with a family struggling to survive in the harsh desert environment.
Tye Sheridan, who picked up the newcomer prize in Venice for his turn in David Gordon Green’s Joe, also stars as do Ciarán Hinds and Ayelet Zurer. Garcia wrote the script and will start principal photography this month in southern California. Emmanuel Lubezki is lensing the picture in a reteam with Garcia after their 2000 collaboration Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her.
Just last weekend, the Gravity cinematographer told Deadline of the project, “It’s a tiny little beautiful, extraordinary script that Rodrigo wrote that we’re going to shoot for five weeks.” Mockingbird’s Julie Lynn and Bonnie Curtis are producing with Wicks Walker. Walker and Nicolas Gonda are financing via Walker’s Division Films and Gonda’s Ironwood Films, in association with Different Drummer and New Balloon. WME has domestic rights, with Hanway Films representing international here in Berlin. McGregor most recently wrapped production on Mortdecai opposite Johnny Depp. He’s next up in Gavin O’Connor’s Jane Got A Gun and makes his Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing. He is repped by UTA, United Agents and Sloane, Offer, Weber, Dern. Sheridan is with WME.
Lydie shared a link to a Deadline article about the American Society of Cinematographers which quoted Gravity cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezkilubezki as saying: “At 4 AM I have to drive to the desert because I start a movie with my friend Rodrigo Garcia with Ewan McGregor. It’s a tiny little beautiful, extraordinary script that Rodrigo wrote that we’re going to shoot for five weeks.”
The Internet Movie Database does not yet list a movie that links all three, but Your Right Mind lists Utah among its filming locations, and Ewan posted these photos to Instagram earlier today, which might confirm my theory:
Numerous “news” sites have been reporting that Ewan has been thrown off his motorcycle: Ewan McGregor thrown from motorbike – Scottish actor Ewan Mcgregor narrowly escaped injury when he was thrown from his motorcycle in a road accident on Wednesday. This headline has been tweeted and retweeted in various languages since Wednesday, and it’s completely false and misleading.
“I’m (sic) wasn’t knocked down but bumped into. Just keep your eyes in your mirrors. Bikers are vulnerable. And very cool.”
Unfortunately, the only reason why these “news” sites do this is pure greed. They want as many people going to their sites which contain advertisements, and those sites get money for every visitor they get.