Ewan McGregor on Woody Allen

Ruthe SteinFriday, May 2, 2008In person, Ewan McGregor looks even less as if he could be Colin Farrell’s brother than he does onscreen. McGregor is tall but slight, with none of Farrell’s potentially menacing bulk. But then Woody Allen, who chose Christopher Walken as Diane Keaton’s brother in “Annie Hall” and Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest as sisters in “Hannah and Her Sisters,” never puts much store in physical resemblance when casting sibling parts, relying instead on clever acting to make you believe his characters are related.In “Cassandra’s Dream,” McGregor plays Ian, the emotionally stronger of two brothers. When their wealthy uncle asks them to murder a business foe, he does the dastardly deed and gets on with it, while brother Terry (Farrell) falls apart.George Lucas directed McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in three “Star Wars” movies, and Baz Luhrmann had him singing and dancing in “Moulin Rouge.” But, like many actors, McGregor’s dream had been to work with Allen, and he badgered his agent about it for years.Here McGregor tells what happened with the call finally came and what it was like to be directed by Allen in “Cassandra’s Dream,” being released this month on DVD.[b]Q: Did Allen call you himself?A:[/b] No. Your agent calls you up and says, “Woody Allen would like to meet you in New York.” So off you go, and you meet him for, like, 45 seconds. He comes in and says, “I like your work, and maybe I have a part.”[b]Q: Does he answer questions?A:[/b] No. He just likes to see you in the flesh. I go away, and then they phone up and say, “Look, Woody wants you to read the script,” and they send it around.[b]Q: What is it about Allen that makes actors take enormous pay cuts to work for him?A:[/b] He’s just one of the very few grand-master filmmakers there are in the world, really. There’s’ nobody who has the (nerve) to shoot the way he does. He only does wide shots. Occasionally, he’ll come in for a close-up, but really only occasionally. So you get this wonderful naturalism because, as an actor, you’ve played these very long scenes in real time in front of a wide frame, and that’s it. You do two or three takes, and then you’re moving on to another scene. So it keeps things really real. And the dialogue is lovely. Woody is so (self-effacing) about it. He says, “They’re just words I wrote. Don’t say any of them if you don’t want to.” It’s kind of like jazz music written in a way to work around it. But it’s so beautifully written, I wouldn’t want to change a word.Source: www.sfgate.com