At 40, Ewan McGregor comes off as sharp and fit as he did when he first caught America’s attention 16 years ago in Trainspotting. And the bloke is having himself quite a year. First he tangled with Gina Carano in Haywire, and this weekend, he plays a British scientist charmed by Emily Blunt in the looks-like-the-perfect-date-flick Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. We asked this Man of the Moment about fish, freedom and fitness.
MADE MAN: In this movie, you play a fisheries expert. Got any fishing tips for us?
EWAN MCGREGOR: It’s a lovely thing to learn how to do! Fly fishing is beautiful; it’s really the top notch of fishing, because it’s particular. You’re trying to catch only the fish that feed from the surface, and generally you do it in very beautiful, cold-water places—Norway, Russia, Scotland—so fly fishermen end up traveling a lot and traveling to very beautiful, remote places. It’s good for the soul, especially if you enjoy a natural challenge. It’s far harder to catch a fish that way, so it’s quite spiritual in a way. It’s nice!
MM: Did you catch any?
EM: No, but whenever I’ve gone fishing, it’s very rarely to catch, more for being quiet and contemplative, and somewhere beautiful. The actual catching of a fish is something that I’m not really interested in. You just get really seasick when you go!
MM: In the movie, your character is in kind of a rut. What’s it take to free yourself of one of those?
McGregor: Oh, God. There’s two ways to go. Massive rapid change… or death! I really don’t know, because everybody’s got different ruts. For my character, it was a very slow process of peeling back the layers, and for him it meant change. It meant ultimately, leaving his marriage, and whatever didn’t work.
MM: Your sexy co-star, Emily Blunt, gets to speak Mandarin in the film. How did she do?
EM: She nailed it! My wife speaks Mandarin, and she said she did a very, very good job.
MM: You are almost 41 and you look really fit. Got any tips for us?
EM: I don’t really do any fitness at all, really. I’ve got four kids and I am always lifting them up and playing with them. I am very active that way. I am going skiing in Utah for my birthday, though. And when we were shooting Salmon, Emily and I both tried Bikram yoga, but I found the teaching styles too strict. I come to yoga to relax!
MM: Where does salmon rank on your list of favorite fish?
EM: I like salmon. I mean, I think they are unbelievably interesting in terms of their cycles—they go out to sea, and they come back down the course to Scotland, and they turn left up the river exactly where they were born to spawn and eventually die. How do they do it? I think they’re fascinating And I think they’re very tasty with eggs in the morning! I’m very partial to smoked salmon. Very Scottish!
MM: And it’s supposed to be very good for your skin.
EM: Really? Well tomorrow morning, you will see me with this large salmon across my face! And if anyone asks, I’ll tell them this journalist told me salmon was good for my skin.