Monday, January 24, 2011

Interview: Ewan McGregor Makes Perfect Sense

Today is the big day: the premiere of David Mackenzie's "Perfect Sense" at the Sundance Film Festival. To kick off a slew of medial reports, I've recieved a terriffic batch of press materials, including a lengthy interview with one of the stars of Perfect Sense, Ewan McGregor. As seen below, Ewan discusses the film (MILD SPOILER CAUTION) as well as his lovely co-star Eva Green, director David Mackenzie, working with his uncle Dennis Lawson (Star Wars) making a third movie with Ewen Bremner (Black Hawk Down) and why he hopes they will never stop making love stories (hear hear!)
Read and Enjoy!

Interview - Ewan McGregor Q - You’ve worked with director David Mackenzie before, what drew you back to theUK to work with him again?

E – Yeah, I worked with David on a film called Young Adam. And I thought it was a fantastic script that he’d written and I had very creative time working on it, and he made a beautiful film out of it. He’s a very interesting filmmaker and there’s something quite unique and special about him. He’s not a director for hire, he has a real visual sense, a real mood, he manages to inject his films with so much mood. I think he’s really great.
So when I got sent Perfect Sense to read from David, I just loved it, I loved the characters, it was such a really lovely premise – this idea of this relentless love story, this story of these two people falling in love almost against their better judgement.

Q – Do you feel that we live in a cynical time, that we are tired of love stories, or that there is still a role for love stories?
E – I’ve always, loved making love stories, I love romance and romantic stories, I’ve always been drawn to them and never tired of it. It’s a very powerful emotion. Falling in love with someone is a very wonderful and all consuming, physical and emotional experience, that we really like as human beings. So I hope we’ll never tire of telling those stories.

For a long time now there’s been a slight embarrassment about telling romantic stories, it’s more common that you would shroud your romantic story in comedy for instance. We’ve had a lot of romantic comedies but I’ve always been interested in films that are romantic without having to be embarrassed about that or shrouding them in anything other than just what they are. I feel there’s something really poetic about Perfect Sense - it’s like a metaphor for falling in love, you know, the world is literally falling apart, losing it’s senses, and when we fall in love we lose our senses, we fall apart, we can’t eat, we can’t sleep, it takes us over. I loved this film, loved it from the moment I read it.



Q – What was it like working with Eva Green, an actress who is known for her beauty?

E – I loved working with Eva, she’s just fantastic, what a great girl, an interesting girl, an interesting actress. She played a part that was really challenging. I really likedher, I liked her as a person first of all, she’s very dry and witty, she has a very skewed sense of humour, which I like a lot. We started rehearsing together in Glasgow, and it was very exciting to be back in Scotland and to be there with her, I think it was her first time in Scotland, so introducing her to Scotland and Glasgow was nice. I just knew we would get on from the beginning of the rehearsals. And we spent a good week or so working on the scenes and it was great we just got on. And I think it’s true her character is very…she’s been in one too many bad relationships, I guess, she doesn’t trust my character and men, and there’s something really lovely about this reluctance. I really like that element of the story, and the fact that they overcome it. In contrast my character is very optimistic. Blind optimism! (laugh)

Q – You play a chef in Perfect Sense and look very convincing. Was there a lot of research that went into this role?
E – Yes, I’m not a cook, I don’t know how to chop or … mainly I don’t know what goes with what. I just don’t have that understanding or knowledge. Also I think I’mquite a … maybe it’s my roots but I’m not that fussy. I like good food but I’m not a gastronome. So I had to learn about cooking or at least to learn to look like I knew how to cook, that was my job, really. I knew I wasn’t going to learn how to cook in two weeks of rehearsal. I went and hung out with some great chefs in Glasgow. I went down to Guy Cowans, I did couple of days and nights in his kitchen. And I used to be a dishwasher, in Crief, where I grew up - there’s a hotel called the Murray Park – I used to work there from the age of fourteen – I was a dishwasher there and then I became a waiter and a barman, but I was washing dishes there, from the age of fourteen, for about two years and so I knew how a kitchen worked and I knew, mainly through my experience, that chefs were complete bastards … they’re always horrible… I don’t know why that is? So I had some experience and I spent a few nights during service at Guy’s at Candleriggs, then we went up to a restaurant up north. It was all about the details. I really enjoyed it. I haven’t cooked since, I haven’t become a great cook because of the film (laugh).

Q – Ewen Bremner said he was amazed at the things he’s learned a bout a kitchen – like discovering that you could stick your fingers into boiling sauce and not get burned!

E – (Laugh) Right, If you’re quick it won’t burn! Apart from oil, we learned that. You can’t do it with oil because the oil sticks to your skin, and that’s it!

Q – What was it like working with Ewen again? This is the third movie now.

E – It was brilliant, I really, really love working with Ewan and I really always have done. It was a nice continuity together, we were both in Trainspotting together, then both in Black Hawk Down and I always thought we should have done a scene for the extra features on the DVD for Black Hawk Down, when I look across at him on the street, under gunfire, and I go Eh! SPUD! What you doin’ here??! He’s a great actor. We had some weird stuff to play in the kitchen, like the food frenzy – some really disgusting things we had to do. And he really threw himself into it. I remember watching him pouring a five litre can of oil into his mouth, and then butter. Oh, it was disgusting!

But he was great, it was great to work with him and it was especially nice for me to work with my uncle Dennis, who I’ve always wanted to work with as an actor. I mean I’ve been directed by my uncle on stage and in a short film he made but I’ve never acted with him and I always wanted to. We were waiting for something special to come along. Dennis was absolutely perfect for the part, they have a nice relationship in the film, Michael and the restaurant owner, they’re very close and we were absolutely able to use that. It was just so lovely for me to play those scenes with Dennis.

Q – Why do you continue to be drawn to doing independent films, when you must have so much influence these days that you have quite a bit of creative freedom in Hollywood anyway?

E – Well, listen, there’s a certain amount of choice in work that I have now. I’m still just drawn to stories that I like. I don’t think of them as mainstream films or indie films. I suppose that’s a kind of luxury. But when it comes to making films that you really love and I just loved this script and think David is such a good filmmaker, you know, the size of it, the budget is irrelevant – why would you not want to be involved in a story of love with a film director you really respect. It doesn’t make sense to pass up on that experience just because it doesn’t have a huge budget. I really believe that Independent filmmaking is where you can make comment and make statements. It’s quite a complicated film, in terms of what it’s saying about life and love.

Q – What do you think the film is saying?

E – I think a lot of films these days just say “This is a film.” I was reading a script someone had sent me and recently and I was going ‘This is just a film’, this script… I suppose it might make a good film, but it’s got f**k all to do with anything, it’s just a film. That’s absolutely what struck me, that this script I read was only based on other movies and some idea of what the audience might like – well Perfect Sense doesn’t have any of that, this film is really odd and bizarre, it’s just f**king bananas, it’s brilliant. And I love the twists and turns in it. I like Michael. He reminds me of…I saw
this play Frankie and Johnnie at the Claire de Lune…Funnily enough it’s about a chef, and they end up in bed together, and they’re not in any relationship, and he spends the entire play trying to convince her that this could be it, this could be the big love in their life, and she’s had it with men, the first time she thinks he’s an idiot. I loved that play and there was something reminiscent in this film about it.

In Perfect Sense, Michael, this guy, his optimism is quite tangible. Their love
… it could be alright, why can’t they just give it a go? And then when he’s talking about when the world loses it’s sense of taste, and he’s outside the front of the restaurant and there’s Dennis, my uncle, and he’s drunk and saying there’s no point, no – one will eat out anymore, since they’ve lost their sense of taste – and Michael just won’t have it. He says no, I think you’re wrong. People will still want to get together and we’ll just have to change. And he has to come up with something new. And I love that about people who are like that. It’s the only way you get on ‘cos bad things happen all the time and the only way to accept them is to adapt and change and move on. And that’s the nice thing about my character in the film.

Q – Is this a happy ending? Or a sad ending? Or a sad ending with a positive
message?

E – I always thought it was hopeful-the end. I didn’t see it as being…it’s
complicated, it’s awful…it’s not a cheery ending, but at the same time I always thought there was hope in there and I thought it was quite an uplifting ending. At the end there they’re reaching for each other and know that they’re truly in love with each other. In a way, I experienced it by reading it, in a way that made me cry, it was just so beautiful at the end.

Dennis Lawson on Ewan: ‘Ewan had wanted to act with me since he was about nine. There was a moment of anxiety though, there when I came across him sitting in the make-up trailer, but as soon as we got on set it was like the most natural thing in the world. We had a great time together, and the relationship between the two characters was quite a nice close one.’

Ewen Bremner on working with Ewan for the third time and more!
‘We hung out a lot together On Black Hawk Down in Morocco, and saw a
different side of each other. I think,since he’s started making movies, he’s
really been so prolific, and he’s done so many different kinds of films, and so
many different kinds of parts, and worked with so many great filmmakers and actors, and he’s really right now, at the height of his powers. He’s in a really impressive place now, he’s a really impressive actor.’ Ewan McGregor thinks highly of Ewen Bremner’s abilities. ‘He’s a great actor, we have real camaraderie, he really throws himself into the thick of things.’

More from Ewan on choosing this film:

‘I just loved this script and think David is such a good filmmaker. When I got
sent Perfect Sense to read I loved the characters, it was such a really lovely
premise – this idea of this relentless love story, this story of these two people
falling in love almost against their better judgement. I’m drawn to stories that I like.’ Ewan reflected on why he chose this British Indie film over other mainstream projects: ‘I don’t think of them as mainstream films or indie films. I suppose that’s a kind of luxury. But when it comes to making films that you really love and…you know, the size of it, the budget is irrelevant–why would you not want to be involved in a story of love with a film director you really respect. It doesn’t make sense to pass up on that experience just because it doesn’t have a huge budget.’ I really believe that Independent filmmaking is where you can make comment and make statements. It’s quite a complicated film, in terms of what it’s saying about life and love.’

Bottom Line: ‘I feel there’s something really poetic about Perfect Sense-it’s like a metaphor for falling in love, you know, the world is literally falling apart, losing it’s senses, and when we fall in love we lose our senses, we fall apart, we can’t eat, we can’t sleep, it takes us over. I loved this film, loved it from the moment I read it…I hope we’ll never tire of telling love stories.’

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