Reading, 15

ewan-mcgregor02.jpgYou are going to read a magazine article about Ewan McGregor, a British actor. Seven sentences have been removed from the article. Choose from sentences A – H the one which fits each gap 16 – 21. There is one extra sentence which you do not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0).

A This might account for the old-fashioned, romantic qualities he can bring to roles in films such as Emma, Scarlet and Black and A life Less Ordinary.

B “It’s all going so unbelievably well,” he admits, “you start to worry something really terrible’s going to happen.”

C “I just didn’t get it. I just remember not liking many of the teachers. They said I had attitude problems.”

D “No, he’s very, very involved with the part. He’d obviously thought about it a great deal. You can see that at each point, in each scene, he knows exactly where he wants to be. He’s a very dynamic and instinctive actor.”

E “God knows what everyone thought I was so excited about. I couldn’t even tell my brother ‘cos I knew he’d just tell all his mates.”

F He never seems to stop smiling, a particularly rare quality to find in actors these days.

G “I was more nervous than I have been for a long time. Sitting there, feeling really scared again. It was brilliant!”

H His first professional acting job was as an Indian in the film A Passage to India where immediately, he says, “I knew I was where I wanted to be”

Into Orbit

Seven years ago Ewen McGregor was still at drama school. Now he’s the leading British actor of his generation. Set for inter-galactic fame in the new Star Wars Trilogy, he is a modest man with the world at his feet.

So how do you audition for Star Wars, one of the biggest, most popular phenomena in Hollywood history? “That was really scary.” Ewan McGregor beams with real enthusiasm.

0:  G

While every aspiring young actor and agent in Hollywood was competing for a part, McGregor simply met the casting agent, talked to director George Lucas and did a screen test.

Playing pool in a pub in Galway, he sounds as casual as you like, sauntering round the table with his trademark cocky grin. Bob Marley sings “don’t worry ’bout a thing” – Ewan’s selection from the jukebox – and it could just about sum up his life right now.  16: ________  

The Star Wars project was so shrouded in secrecy, McGregor wasn’t allowed to tell anyone, except his parents and his wife, Eve. “I was on the set of Velvet Goldmine when I found out – my first day’s filming! So all day I walked around going like this”. (biting his fist, eyes wide with delight)    17: _______

Arriving at the pub, McGregor is freshfaced and enormously good-natured, seemingly unburdened by the pressures of fame and full of confidence. He wanted to be an actor from the age of nine, when he started to idolise his uncle, Local Hero actor Denis Lawson (who also had small parts in the three original Star Wars movies) and has pursued his dream since then with almost manic enthusiasm, probably ruthless determination, and more than a hint of arrogance. “It just didn’t even enter my head that it wouldn’t work out.”

Evidently he was so keen on acting that even his parents, who were teachers, gave him their blessings to leave school at 16. “I didn’t hate school,” he explains.

18: ________

He grew up in Grief!, in Perth, with an adventurous childhood, “kicking around in the countryside, riding horses every weekend.” Never fond of sports, he would spend Saturday afternoons lying on the carpet in front of the TV, watching black and white movies.    19: _______ 

Ask people who have worked with him how his success has been so meteoric, and rather than mention his talent first of all, they tend to talk about his energy, eagerness and above all, his charm. The directors of two forthcoming releases, Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine) and James Deardon (Rogue Trader), both say they were struck by the enormous enthusiasm and commitment he brings to his roles. “He gives 100 per cent in every take,” says Haynes. “He gave us some unbelievably strenuous performances.” Deardon says McGregor is not the kind of actor who’ll be chatting away to the crew or cast before a take, and then just carry on with what he was saying afterwards. 20: _______

Another thing people remark upon is just how likeable Ewan McGregor is. He combines an eagerness, energy and fierce friendliness with the sort of sharp sarcasm that you see in Trainspotting and Shallow Grave, which prevents him from seeming too full of himself.   21: _______

He has already settled down into domesticity with his production designer wife, Eve Mavrakis, who he met on the set of Kavanagh QC, and their two-yearold daughter Clara, who he describes as “something else. I love her to bits. People ask how I manage to combine a family life and a career but I don’t look at it that way. My family and career are my life. They’re not separate.”

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