Ewan McGregor is standing by his casting as legendary designer Halston in an upcoming five-part Netflix series about the late icon’s life.
McGregor said in a new cover story interview with the Hollywood Reporter that when taking on the role as the gay designer, he was concerned about the backlash that might come with it. McGregor, who identifies as straight, has played gay characters before in The Pillow Book and I Love You Phillip Morris.
McGregor told THR that “if it had been a story about Halston’s sexuality more, then maybe it’s right that gay actors should play that role. But in this case—and I don’t want to sound like I’m worming out of this, because it’s something I did think a lot about—I suppose ultimately I felt like it was just one part of who he was.”
While discussing a 2019 Hollywood Reporter Actor Roundtable where Billy Porter said “straight men playing gay—everyone wants to give them an award,” McGregor said he hears the discussion and “respects both sides.”
“I haven’t walked in Billy Porter’s shoes. I don’t know what it’s like to lose out parts when you might feel it’s to do with your sexuality. So I can only respect his point of view.”
Also in the discussion, McGregor spoke extensively about reprising the role as Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi in the upcoming Star Wars series Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+, taking place a decade after 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. His return to the character was once set to be a film, before 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story underperformed. And even after the project was announced in 2019, McGregor couldn’t say much.
“I’d see stuff on social media like, ‘They better cast Ewan as Obi-Wan,’ and I wasn’t able to say anything,” he explained. “But it was pretty humiliating to think that [Disney] might be thinking about casting someone else.”
McGregor also spoke on the ever-divisive Star Wars prequels, sharing that it “was hard they didn’t get well received. That was quite difficult. They were universally not very much liked.” Toward the end of Ewan’s original run as Obi-Wan, director George Lucas had begun to opt for less physical sets and more bluescreens, making it increasingly difficult for the actors.
“After three or four months of that, it just gets really tedious—especially when the scenes are…I don’t want to be rude, but it’s not Shakespeare,” McGregor told THR. “There’s not something to dig into in the dialogue that can satisfy you when there’s no environment there. It was quite hard to do.”
Compared to the last time he grabbed his lightsaber, he’s feeling more excited than usual for the new series. “I’m really excited about it,” he said. “Maybe more so than the first ones, because I’m older—I just turned 50—and I’m just in a much better place.”
Asked if fans’ hopes of a young Luke Skywalker will come to pass, he hedged with a simple, “That’s very possible. I don’t know.”