As Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels and the junkie Renton in Trainspotting (1996), Ewan McGregor has played some of cinema’s beloved characters over the years.
But the Scottish actor has had a lot more adventure than meets the eye.
Here are seven new things to learn about the great Ewan McGregor. May the knowledge be with you.
7. He traveled around the world. On a motorcycle. Twice.
In the television documentary Long Way Round (2004), McGregor details the story of traveling the world by motorcycle in 2004. With a film crew and his best friend Charley Boorman, McGregor fired up his motorcycle in London, England, and biked across Europe and Asia.
After a flight to Alaska, he then continued his round trip across North America before ending the journey in New York. The entire endeavor was three months long-spanning almost 20,000 miles.
In 2007, he went for a second trip with the same team. He traveled from John o’ Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa—all described in the TV series Long Way Down (2007).
6. He’s part of a legacy of beloved Star Wars actors—who make their own sound effects.
Joining the ranks of Hayden Christensen, Laura Dern, and Liam Neeson, McGregor is one of many who made sound effects for his lightsaber on set.
On the Graham Norton Show, he admits, “To begin with, it was quite difficult to not make the sound.”
He also may have smuggled a lightsaber offset.
5. His uncle played Wedge Antilles in the original Star Wars trilogy.
McGregor says in “Becoming Obi-Wan” that the first movie he ever saw in a theatre was possibly Star Wars Episode V, mainly because his uncle was in it.
Denis Lawson, who played Wedge Antilles in Episode IV, V and VI, is McGregor’s uncle on his mother’s side. Apparently, the force runs strong in this family.
“[My brother and I] sat down just excited to see Uncle Denis,” McGregor says. “And then we got Star Wars as well, which blew us completely away.”
4. He was going to try heroin to prepare for his role in Trainspotting.
In the cult classic Trainspotting, McGregor plays Renton, a heroin addict living in Edinburgh, Scotland.
To prepare for the role, McGregor had to abstain from alcohol and dairy products to get the body needed to make the role convincing.
Oh, and he almost did heroin.
He tells Hollywood Reporter, “I did actually think about trying heroin. At first, early on, I thought: how can you play a heroin addict without having taken it? I was young, and I thought, f**k it, just do it.”
McGregor ultimately decided against it when he did more research and met real people addicted to heroin. “As soon as I met the real deal,” McGregor said, “I thought it would be hugely disrespectful to them to be taking heroin.”
3. A ghost may have attacked him.
On Late Night with Seth Meyers, McGregor says he was a 20-year-old drama student living in London when he encountered a ghost.
He was minding his own business in his apartment when he suddenly felt something strike him on his back. When he took off his robe, he saw that it was completely burned at the back.
Apparently, the previous tenant accidentally set fire to his kitchen and passed away from the burns on his back.
Later, the ceiling collapsed. McGregor also experienced other hallmarks of hauntings: doors opening, phone calls with no one on the other end. He stayed there for months.
Our theory? A poorly made apartment mixed in with a standard haunting.
2. He can rip it on the French horn.
McGregor’s TV debut was more than 30 years ago in 1986. At 16 years old, McGregor can be seen on the show A Touch of Music, where he plays a French horn he borrowed from his private music teacher, George Annan.
According to Annan, McGregor knew he was going to be an actor very early.
Annan says, “[Ewan McGregor] said, ‘I am going to be an actor.’ He didn’t say, ‘I want to be an actor.’ […] He had such confidence at a very young age.”
McGregor later bought the same French horn that he made on his TV debut.
1. He and Jude Law were roommates—and shared a bunk bed.
McGregor and English actor Jude Law first met in L.A. before sharing an apartment (sorry, flat) in London, England, during the ’90s.
They had drinks together at the nearby bar. And they’d later co-find Natural Nylon, a film, and theatre company that would last a few years.
Jude Law has played many characters, including Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes (2009), giving us unlikely crossover energy. Kenobi & Watson? Use the force, John? We’d love to see it.