Ewan McGregor is apologetic about eating his bagel. He smiles sheepishly before taking a generous bite and brushing the crumbs away with a napkin. “This isn’t great is it? Eating and talking.”
He’s just breezed in from a few television appearances, having had the day off from shooting the upcoming HBO pilot of “The Corrections.” As busy as he is, the Scottish actor sits before us to discuss his latest project, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” In it, he portrays a fisheries expert and enthusiast who reluctantly assists a sheikh in migrating salmon to the Yemen in an effort, partially, to boost UK-Arab relations.
Having played a heroin addict, a Jedi master and dozens of other characters throughout his career, McGregor has trained himself to do a lot of things for the sake of a role — but one he’ll never have an affinity for is fly-fishing.
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“I’m not interested in fishing as such, because I don’t want to catch a fish,” he says. “I think that’s probably quite key if you want to be a fisherman. The actual battle between man and fish is not something that I have in mind.”
The sheikh in the film, a fellow fly-fishing enthusiast, is determined to bring fishing to his people for the sake of growing the economy, despite the negative local response to the project. He’s swimming against a tide in much the same way that the film industry is fighting the growing dominance of on-demand, Internet-based entertainment. With one of his films, “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” having hit theaters in 3-D just last month, McGregor explained the importance of getting out to the theater.
“There’s something really magical about going to the cinema,” he says. “That’s how films are shot to be seen. We go to a great deal of trouble to light them, to act them and to have them seen on a big scale. There’s something to be gained by seeing the film in a cinema than at home.”