Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead on reprising characters and parenting

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For the past seven years, Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead have been looking for a project to work on together. At one point they were sure they had found the perfect match.

“We thought we had something, but in the meantime someone else made it,” McGregor says with a laugh. “We didn’t know! It was like, ‘How’s that going?’ And we Googled it and someone fucking made it!”

It’s been eight years since they met on the set of “Fargo” in 2016, and two years since they tied the knot. But they are still in the honeymoon phase. During our photo shoot they pose together effortlessly, spending much of the time looking into each other’s eyes, without any direction.

This loving interaction was also evident during our subsequent interview, with the couple holding hands, lovingly touching each other’s faces after sharing a compliment, and listening intently as the other spoke. When Winstead gets a little cold, McGregor smoothly shakes off his leather jacket and wraps it around her shoulders.

So it’s no surprise that when he was offered “A Gentleman in Moscow,” the Paramount+ on Showtime series based on the 2016 novel by Amor Towles, he thought of Winstead for the role of Anna Urbanova, a struggling actress who sometimes finds herself in a romantic atmosphere. relationship with his Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov. In his eyes, she was the perfect match for his aristocrat, who had been sentenced to house arrest in a luxury hotel after the Russian Revolution.

“Ewan was reading the novel and he slyly started saying to me, in very subtle ways, that there was a great female character in the book,” she says. “He definitely hinted to me that this could be a good opportunity for us to work together.”

At the time, McGregor was already attached to the project as an executive producer, but he wasn’t sure if the role would be big enough for Winstead. Plus, she wanted to make sure they were actually interested in it for her – not just because he suggested it. Once the discussions started and they found a way to take the character to the next level, she was on board.

“I’ve wanted to do something good together ever since we did ‘Fargo,’” she says. “I really didn’t expect it to be as great a role as it turned out to be. I just felt so happy.”

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For McGregor it was something new and exciting, especially since he was involved from the start. “I’ve been a producer of things before, and it didn’t yield much. And I’m learning what it means,” he says. “You don’t go to the office signing checks for people, but it was a lot of fun to be part of the conversations, finding a director and casting.”

Although he has found success in films — such as “Trainspotting,” “Moulin Rouge” and the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, to name a few — McGregor has really thrived on television over the past seven years with “Fargo,” Halston” (for which he won an Emmy Award) and “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” It’s not that he prefers one over the other, but the industry has changed, and so has his life.

“I love making films. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a movie star. Then I was in movies. Every time I sat there at the premiere, I couldn’t believe I was up there [on screen]. I still have that, I think, but I don’t know what it means exactly,” he says.

While TV shows give actors more time to develop a character and tell a story, they also come with longer commitments. “They are extremely burdensome. You can shoot a film in a few months, and you can throw your heart and soul into it. You know the light shines in the tunnel. If you do something that takes six months, you will be exhausted by the end of your first month!”

“A Gentleman in Moscow” was shot continuously for 10 hours every day, which was a gift. “We’re all used to working fourteen, fifteen, sixteen hour days, and that’s madness. Nobody does their best work in their sixteenth hour,” says McGregor. “That was the great thing about it: we were home every night. We had to put our son to bed every day and in the evening we were given time to prepare for the next day.”

Preparing for the role was quite a mental process, as it all is for McGregor.

“I’m always a wreck for a job, [worrying] that I won’t succeed. That’s the first few days or sometimes even the first week,” he says. But once filming started, he got into the swing of things and was able to leave it on set at the end of the day.

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The same applies to Winstead.

“We are very similar. I’m always really nervous at first, like leading up to it and then having that moment of imposter syndrome where you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I thought I was going to be great in this role and now I regret it. I’m taking it because I don’t know what I’m doing!’ And then you get carried away and it becomes fun,” she says.

By the time the day is over, “everything is so hectic when we have a baby at home,” that her focus becomes completely on that. “If you’re not informed, you’re just a parent. You don’t really have time to think about how you feel about the character in the moment. You’re just thrown into the bath [time] and dinner,” she says. “I don’t analyze things nearly as much as I used to. You don’t have time to sit and overanalyze and worry and worry and all that stuff. You just have to show up and kick yourself into gear.

The theme that everything changes once parenthood begins is reflected in the Count; Midway through the series, he becomes the caretaker of a young girl whose mother leaves town to follow her husband. It was a story that McGregor could tap into seamlessly.

“I have five children and one of my daughters is adopted. As we were filming, I realized, ‘Oh, this is an adoption story.’ I like that part of it because I love that part of my life,” he says. “I think it’s true that we are two different people before we have children and after we have children. You don’t have this responsibility for another human life, you never experience it until someone calls you daddy.”

It’s all about finding a work-life balance for McGregor and Winstead – and that’s not easy with both their careers flourishing. This year alone, Winstead has three different Emmy-eligible projects: “A Gentleman in Moscow;” UCP’s animated series “Scott Pilgrim Takes Off,” streaming on Netflix; and the “Star Wars” series “Ahsoka” on Disney+.

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“It’s so unexpected and so amazing to know that the only three things I’ve done in the last few years are things that come into the conversation that way. It’s a really nice surprise,” she says. “And it’s funny because at the same time I was doing the anime series ‘Scott Pilgrim.’ I did a lot of weekends and stuff just to kind of draw that out – it was very, very different!

“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” reunited the entire main cast from the 2010 film, this time for an animated series starring Winstead’s Ramona Flowers as the main character following Scott Pilgrim’s disappearance.

“It was really interestingly cathartic,” she says of taking the plunge. Because she was already so invested in “Gentleman in Moscow” when she took it on, Winstead had no idea how unique it would feel to step back into the universe in a whole new way.

“As we started getting more into the episodes, it was so much fun. They did such an amazing job – so beautiful and deep, what they were talking about and where they were taking the characters. So to do that in a role that is formative for me was unexpectedly emotional. It meant so much,” she says. “I tried to get back to my brain and get back to my 24-year-old self and find that voice again.”

Now, both McGregor and Winstead have been lucky enough to step back into characters from their pasts with ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ and ‘Scott Pilgrim Takes Off’ respectively. That might be the last time they do that in their career – maybe.

“The only role I would like to do again is I played Iago in ‘Othello’ in London with Chiwetel Ejiofor, and I felt like I had scratched the surface of that role. I’ve often felt that way [that] One day I would like to do that again,” he says. “That was a real mountain in terms of feeling worthy of doing that. It’s also just the pressure of, ‘Am I doing it right?’ It would be great to do it again without all that hassle and just try to really dig into what’s on the page. I’ll try again at some point.”

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