Ewan McGregor: 'There's no danger that cinema will disappear'
Radio Times Magazine has 10 questions with Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke.
Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor star in Apple TV+ family drama, Raymond & Ray, where they reunite at their father's funeral. Neither sibling had a particularly good relationship with their father and get to sharing memories both light and dark of their dad while processing how he made them the men they are today.
In light of their new film premiering on Friday 21st October on the streamer, Radio Times Magazine caught up with the pair to ask them all about the movie, the legacy they want to leave, and what roles are still left for them to play.
This is your first film together, but you both broke into the big time in the 90s, in Trainspotting and Reality Bites. Have you known each other for a long time?
Ewan McGregor: There’s like a simpatico feeling to our careers and the kind of work that we’ve done. I’ve always felt a sort of kindred spirit with Ethan, although we didn’t know each other well. A long, long time ago, we met when Ethan was working with Jude Law on Gattaca. We met and we must have hung out a few times. We’re pretty sure we did!
Ethan Hawke: I don’t remember much else about the evenings except that we had a good time!
Raymond & Ray is a comedy drama about a pair of estranged half-brothers, made by writer-director Rodrigo García. Who signed up first?
Ewan: I read the script first. I’d made a film with Rodrigo in the past called Last Days in the Desert. We were very excited to get the script to Ethan. And you’d worked with Rodrigo when he was a camera operator, right?
Ethan: Yes, on Reality Bites and Great Expectations. Which were two movies I made very close in time to each other – so I’ve been following his career for 20 years, just because I really liked him as a man. He’s a very likeable, engaging, kind, warm soul.
The brothers’ father leaves very specific instructions about his wishes after his death. Have you ever thought about how you’d want to leave this life?
Ethan: First off, I don’t want to leave this life. I plan on immortality... that’s my goal. Actual permanent life. My favourite Willie Nelson quote is, “I don’t go to funerals and I definitely won’t go to mine.”
Did either of you ever think about playing the other brother?
Ethan: I’m haunted by this question. Ewan, you definitely could play both roles extremely well. And I don’t think that I would have played Raymond as well as you. It’s an acting exercise we never did.
Ewan: If it was a play we could trade parts. Danny Boyle directed Frankenstein at the National, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller switched roles.
What did you both learn from the film about being a son and being a father?
Ethan: I enjoyed this because it’s a giant meditation on being a child and being a parent. As I start to understand what my parents might have been going through, I become a lot more forgiving.
Ewan: Great answer!
As the film deals with legacy, how would you like to be remembered?
Ethan: After I’m gone, the Toronto International Film Festival [where the film had its premiere] should be, I think, for about 10 years, dedicated to my work.
Ewan: I’ll make sure of it. And likewise, you can do the same for me if it’s the other way around.
But as you’re film stars, people can watch you on screen for ever! That’s a kind of immortality. What do your kids think?
Ethan: All joking aside... we’re all building sandcastles, and some of the sandcastles get knocked down sooner than others. I made this documentary, The Last Movie Stars, about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. And my biggest lesson from that was the greatest impact you have on people is the people who love you. Those are the relationships that really matter.
Ewan: Your children know you from their life with you. Whether they watch [our work] after we’re gone or not, it’s our relationship with them that’s the more important thing.
You recently made shows for Disney, with Moon Knight [Hawke] and Obi-Wan Kenobi [McGregor]. Are superheroes and sci-fi really your thing?
Ewan: The first film I ever saw in the cinema was Bedknobs and Broomsticks. That was Disney!
Ethan: My imagination doesn’t work for a lot of superhero movies. In a movie musical, it only takes a minute for me to think, “Why are they singing?” I always feel the same with the spandex suits – why is he wearing that outfit? Doesn’t make any sense. Where did he get the fabric? My brain is too literal. I did Moon Knight because I got to play a character I could wrap my head around.
This film is on Apple TV+. Is the future of movies on streaming?
Ethan: I was lucky enough to work with Sidney Lumet on his last movie [2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead]. When he started, live television was the thing he really wanted to do. Then he moved into cinema. And the limited series was happening as he was passing. How [the work] is received and how it’s sold and how it’s marketed… he felt like, “That’s not really my business, because I know it’s going to change in a decade anyway.”
Ewan: I think that things will carry on as they have been. I think things will be on streaming, things will be in the cinema. I don’t feel like there’s a danger that cinema is going to disappear.
If you could only take on one more role, what would it be?
Ewan: There’s a Pinter play, The Caretaker, that I love, and has been important in my life. I’m too old now, but I always wanted to play Aston.
Ethan: I would make a good Dracula! I’d like to play Dracula.
This interview originally appeared in Radio Times magazine. If you're looking for something to watch, check out our TV Guide.
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