OnlyOnAOL: Ewan McGregor has a crazy secret talent
By: Donna Freydkin
Ewan McGregor rides motorcycles, and documented a three-month trip that took him and a buddy across 12 countries and 19 time zones.
And yet the well-respected actor says being on a chopper doesn't compare to getting into the director's chair.
"This is slightly scarier than that," says McGregor, of his directorial debut, "American Pastoral," which opens wide this week. "It took me a long time to get the courage and find the right story.
He was jittery, he says, about "screwing it up, I suppose. The responsibility is huge. I would never put myself into a situation where you didn't believe in yourself. It took me a long time to find the story."
The film stars McGregor, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Connelly and Valorie Curry. It's based on Philip Roth's adored book, which won the Pulitzer Prize.
McGregor kept things loose on set. On purpose.
"It was a real treat to have your director sitting in the makeup chair singing every morning – whether he knew the words or not," says Curry. "We had good discussions."
For Fanning, who has worked with everyone from Tony Scott to Steven Spielberg, McGregor's directorial style resonated.
"I liked so many things but it was really wonderful to see how he was able to see what each actor needs," says Fanning. "I don't like to do too much discussion or proper rehearsal before the actual day. That's how I feel I do my best. I don't know what I'm going to do before I absolutely have to do something. He gave me that space. I'm sometimes not great at communicating that – I don't know why."
The actors say that while they all love to read, there's no single work of fiction that has altered their entire worldview.
"I'm about to embark on 'The Bell Jar.' But I don't think I have anything in my life that has changed my life -- experiences have. I wish I had that," says Fanning.
Adds McGregor: "I've never read a book that changed my life. You could say that this book changed my life because I ended up becoming a director because of it."