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The Island - Ewan McGregor interview



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Where is The Island set in terms of sci-fi?
A.
I’ve always thought of it, if you want to use the terms, as being a kind of futurist thriller as opposed to sci-fi.
They have futuristic elements – we shot in Detroit for LA, they’re going to work on the skyline of Detroit to an extent to make it slightly futuristic but what I think he's done very cleverly, he's made it not a too-distant future, so maybe it's in 20 years time, which keeps it familiar enough.
I think it’s a clever way to explore this idea of cloning, that we can keep it quite close to a real now.

Q. Were you worried about the action scenes?
A.
I wasn’t worried about it. I was excited to do this kind of stuff with him, Michael, because I don’t think there's anyone that does it better. Some of the chases on the freeways, some of that stuff just looks unbelievable.
And the way they kind of weave us in and out of it, to put us in the action without putting us in any danger, was very satisfying to watch.
What’s been really nice about it is that very little of it has been done on a blue-screen, most of it is done in front of a camera with special effects crew and stuntmen and/or Scarlett and myself, and that’s always really exciting to do.
It sometimes looks abit amateurish, if you like, because it has to be that way – it’s done with ropes, pulling cars over, it comes to people moving things around, pyrotechnics – but that’s what makes it fantastic, it's not all being done on a computer afterwards.
Some of it is, but not very much.

Q. Has it been the most physical film you’ve done?
A.
Yeah, in terms of running we’ve done a lot of running. We’re being chased all the time and a lot of it’s on foot and you do get knocked about, and Michael’s always very keen for us to get knocked about. He always likes to knock the actors about. Yeah, it's an action movie and you do get hurt.

Q. What was the most physically painful thing?
A.
The most physically painful thing is hanging up in harnesses, it's really horrendous. It's just incredibly uncomfortable because you’re hanging from in between your legs. I could think of lots of other things I’d rather do. Doing special effects on freeways with real cars on the back of lorries riding at 50 mph with Scarlett is more enjoyable than on a blue-screen, its bound to be.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your experiences on Long Way Round - your real-life motorcycle adventure?
A.
It was the most amazing experience of my life really. It was an incredibly liberating experience, because in this part of my life a lot of your decisions are made for you – ‘we’ll pick you up at 6.45 in the morning, have your lunch at one, you can have this’, and you can’t go to the bathroom without having five people going ‘he’s gone to the toilet, he’s gone to the toilet’.
To suddenly be waking up in a tent in Siberia with my mate, Charlie, and one other guy – no one knew where we were, we probably didn’t know where we were either – was incredibly liberating, I loved it.
I often daydream back there. I made a conscious decision to soak it in while I was there, to not forget the feeling of it, and I can take myself back there, so its nice. There’s something very comforting about being in remoteness, I really enjoyed it.
I just liked it when we stopped riding for the day, parked the bikes up, we’d make a fire and put our tents up and then we’d just hang out. Certainly, by the time we’d got into far eastern Russia and Siberia, it was daylight 23 hours a day, 22 hours a day, so we had an awful lot of time just to hang about and tell bad jokes, or simply be quiet by the fire. I really liked it.

Q. Were your family supportive?
A.
Yes, I mean really, really so. Im pretty sure my wife didn’t really expect that we would ever do it, to begin with. I suppose to Charlie and I initially, it was a great idea but, like many great ideas that might not have happened.
It just gathered momentum, to the point where we were off. My wife was nothing but supportive. I mean I’m sure she wouldn’t be keen if I said I was going to do it again tomorrow, but at the same time I went with her blessings and my children’s blessings and I spoke to them on the phone every night.

Q. Do you feel balanced in your career?
A
. Yeah, im really happy at the moment. I don’t really feel any pressure to do one thing or the other. Im very lucky in that respect – I’ve got great representation, and a great wife – I don’t feel that I'm pressured into anything, so it's easy for me to do that.
And when some script comes through the post, if I read it and go ‘I'll do that’ – I'm in a position where I can, regardless of it being 120 million or nothing.

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