Ewan McGregor was on a TCA panel for Season 3 of Fargo. After the panel he spoke with reporters about his upcoming movies. I asked him about the long awaited T2 Trainspotting which reunites the entire cast. The T2 Trainspotting trailer shows the famous scene of Renton (McGregor) laughing maniacally on the hood of a car recreated with McGregor 20 years later.
“It was one of a few homages, I guess, that moment,” McGregor said of T2 Trainspotting. “Ultimately it was amazing to step back into the shoes of a character that was, for me, so important. The Trainspotting film means such a huge deal to me. Therefore, you might imagine the sequel had to be amazing for us all to want to do it and for me to want to do it. When I read John Hodge’s script, I was left in no doubt that it was something I really wanted to do.”
Irvine Welsh wrote a Trainspotting sequel that was not called T2 Trainspotting. It was called Porno. In addition to keeping the Trainspotting name, T2 Trainspotting takes other liberties. “It’s loosely based upon Porno but rather loosely I would say,” McGregor said.
McGregor also plays Lumiere, the candle in the live-action Beauty and the Beas movie. “Partly that was interesting because I had to do a French accent,” McGregor said. “I’ve been married to a French woman for 22 years and my house is full of French every day. My kids all speak French only to their mother. I found it very difficult to do. I rather arrogantly thought I’d be able to do this French accent without doing very much work and when I tried to do it, I didn’t do it very well. Also there was some Disney [talk], they didn’t want the full French sound. They didn’t want the R sound. So when you put an R in a French accent, it turns Spanish or Mexican, so that was an issue.”
Once filming was completed and visual effects were underway, McGregor rerecorded the dialogue. “I came back to it afterwards and rerecorded the whole thing again with Bill Condon in a studio,” McGregor said. “We had two shots at it and we improved it. By that time I’d gotten a handle on my French accent.”
Recording the songs made McGregor even more anxious. “I got a chance to sing of course ‘Be Our Guest,’ the big musical number,” he said. “Singing in French again was fun, and I did that twice too. I hadn’t been in a recording studio for a long time. I was in a recording studio in London when we recorded the song for the first time. There was an enormous amount of pressure I felt. I’d only just arrived. I was jet lagged from L.A. I got off a plane one day and the next day I was in a recording studio. It’s very nerve racking recording. You’re in a quiet room and through the glass there’s people looking at you. They speak to each other and you can’t hear them. In this instance there was like 50 people in there. I was standing jet lagged alone trying to sing in a French accent this big number. Every time I stopped, they would all go [mimics talking behind the glass]. I became terribly scared that they were going, ‘What the fuck are we going to do with him?’ We did it and it was fine and I asked Bill, ‘When we’re working on the dialogue next time, can I have another shot at it.’ We just went privately me and him and a few people in New York and we recorded it a second time.”
McGregor said he kept the animated film, voiced by Jerry Orbach, out of his mind. “I never think about who’s done it before,” McGrgor said. “The only time I would’ve done that before I suppose is Star Wars. I had to think about that because I was trying to play Alec Guinness as a younger man. Or on stage playing Iago in Othello, of course that’s been done before. But the last thing you do is think about how they did it before. You’re trying to find your version of it. I was in very good hands with Bill Condon, the director, and I didn’t think very much about it. I just did it.”
It turns out McGregor had been looking for another musical to do after Moulin Rouge. “I was never offered one after Moulin Rouge,” he said. “I went on stage doing Guys and Dolls in London in the West End for six months after Moulin Rouge and then I was never offered another one. There’s not many around to be honest. I had hoped and I thought after Moulin Rouge came out, and there was a great musical movie called Hedwig and the Angry Inch that came out at the same time. I felt the combination of Moulin Rouge and Hedwig might be the start of a new musical cinema, and the next thing that happened was Chicago which was very much a filmed version of the stage play, which wasn’t pushing the musical into a new area that Hedwig had done. It just didn’t materialize. I don’t know why. Now of course there’s La La Land. That might do it. I love it. I’m a musical person. I love singing and dancing. It’s very much in my wheelhouse. Expressing yourself through song is very effective. If you sing I love you o someone with a full orchestra behind you, it’s very powerful. It’s hard to get that feeling by just saying the words, although we try to. So I’d be totally up for it. I hope that that happens.”