Ewan McGregor, A Gentleman In Moscow interview: Mary Elizabeth Winstead | Stellar interview

From dramas to comedies, real-life romantic partners bring a palpable chemistry to the screen. Among the Hollywood couples who have been lucky enough to achieve cinematic immortality through multiple films together are Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward; Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell; and Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz.

It’s a similar story for Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

The pair met in early 2017 while filming the third season of acclaimed TV drama Fargo, playing star-crossed schemers trying to pull off a heist.

Now, the couple – who reunited onscreen in the 2020 film Birds Of Prey before welcoming their son Laurie in 2021 – are starring together in the new series A Gentleman In Moscow, and once again they fall in love on camera.

“I can’t tell you, first of all, how perfect it feels to come to work to play this beautiful romance with my wife,” McGregor says of working with Winstead, who he married in 2022. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Based on the 2016 novel by American author Amor Towles, A Gentleman In Moscow follows the charismatic Count Alexander Rostov (McGregor) in the period after the Russian Revolution, as he navigates life in communist Russia while living under house arrest in an attic room of the grand Metropol hotel. But even in his confinement, he opens his heart to

one of the hotel’s guests, Anna Urbanova (Winstead), a seductive, self-made film star.

The two characters could not be more different.

While the count is a stickler for the traditions of old, Anna is a woman who pushes against social convention.

“Right from the start of the story, she comes careering into his life in the piazza and sweeps him off his feet,” McGregor says.

Filming in Northern England in town halls and historic buildings made the experience all the richer.

“Most of us have never worked on such beautiful sets,” McGregor explains.

“It’s vast and real, it makes the acting feel all the more real because we feel like we’re here. And when you step off the set at the end of the day or the end of a scene, it’s always a bit of a surprise when you open the door; you’re in a car park in Manchester.”

He credits the costume and make-up departments with adding to that sense of escapism, since the sweeping story requires McGregor to transition from a debonair aristocrat in his 20s to an older man with dishevelled hair, whose old cardigan has become the main piece of his wardrobe.

“It’s quite hard to tell a story and to see somebody pass through 35-plus years without it becoming like a prosthetics show – and it hasn’t,” says 52-year-old McGregor, who is also an executive producer on the series.

“We’ve done it very elegantly.”

McGregor is a proven screen chameleon who has breezed between art house films and blockbusters in his career, playing everything from a drug addict for his breakout role in 1996’s Trainspotting to a romantic playwright in 2001’s Moulin Rouge! and Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars universe.

To play the count, the Scottish actor insisted on growing his own distinct facial hair so that he could give a more authentic performance.

“It’s miserable wearing a fake mustache because you can’t move your lips properly,” he explains. “It affects the way you talk. And it affects your mood throughout the day – you don’t feel free to express yourself because you’re worried it’s going to fall off.”

It’s this kind of attention to detail that gives A Gentleman In Moscow a Golden Age of Hollywood feel.

“It’s not old-fashioned, yet it does have something,” McGregor insists.

“It has its heart in old movies and storytelling. I often feel like it when we’re playing scenes that could be in black and white. This is beautiful. I just think people will be touched by it.”

A Gentleman In Moscow premieres on Friday, and episodes drop weekly, on Paramount+.

Originally published as ‘It doesn’t get any better than that’: Ewan McGregor on playing opposite his wife Mary Elizabeth Winstead in A Gentleman In Moscow

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