Ewan McGregor not only received a lifetime achievement award, but also much love and adoration during a brief, but emotional ceremony at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday night.
During the event at the big cinema celebration in the Czech spa town, organizers and fans feted the Scottish actor, director and producer as the President’s Award for lifetime achievement was bestowed upon him. On Friday’s opening night of the fest, Alicia Vikander received the same award, while Russell Crowe was honored with the festival’s Crystal Globe.
A warm welcome to McGregor by a host was followed by a particularly well-received career highlights reel that repeatedly drew laughs and cheers for scenes from the likes of the Star Wars universe, I Love You Phillip Morris and, of course, Trainspotting.
“This is like a dream to see that,” McGregor told the audience at the Hotel Thermal, the location of many Karlovy Vary festival activities, after taking to the stage to extended raucous applause and many cheers to receive the statue. “It was my dream as a little boy to become an actor. And that’s the thing of dreams, seeing that reel.”
McGregor then joked that he was going to do a bit in Czech onstage but decided against it after the reaction to his practicing Czech. “Somebody called for an ambulance because they thought I was having a medical emergency,” he quipped.
Instead, he decided to keep things short and simple, saying: “Thank you so much for being here tonight. And it means just the world to me. I believe so much in what we do as actors. I’m so fortunate to do what I love and love what I do.”
The winner of a Golden Globe, an Emmy, two European Film Awards and numerous other awards then introduced his new film You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder, in which he appears alongside his daughter Clara. The honoree described acting with his daughter as a highlight of what he has done.
He then invited Clara to the stage, and she told the audience: “This is a complete dream” and called out director Emma Westenberg. “She is definitely her father’s daughter,” the director shared about the young actress, calling her “incredibly talented.” They were then joined onstage by other members of the creative team, including veteran independent film producer Christine Vachon who the Karlovy Vary Fest is paying homage to this year.
“Thank you, everybody,” McGregor said to wrap up before he and the rest of the creative team left the stage to another round of thunderous applause and cheers.
“Ewan McGregor is one of the most exceptional actors working today,” festival organizers said ahead of the celebration. “His extensive filmography is a unique combination of the tradition of British cinema with the grandeur of Hollywood productions. He began his acting career in the 1990s after graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama when he got his first roles in television series. Above all, however, he began to work with director Danny Boyle. His role in the dark comedy Shallow Grave (1994) earned him an Empire Award for best British actor, and their next joint film, Trainspotting (1996), was an international sensation. The second most successful British film of all time, Trainspotting (like its source material, the novel by Irwin Welsh) became a cult hit.”
McGregor and Boyle worked together again on the 1997 romantic comedy A Life Less Ordinary, in which McGregor starred with Cameron Diaz.
Among many others, the Karlovy Vary team also highlighted such films set in the world of music as 1998’s Little Voice, directed by Mark Herman, and Todd Haynes’ glam-rock era drama Velvet Goldmine; war drama Black Hawk Down (2001) by Ridley Scott; Baz Luhrmann’s musical Moulin Rouge! (2001); Woddy Allen’s romantic mystery Cassandra’s Dream (2007); Ron Howard’s adaptation of the Dan Brown bestseller Angels & Demons alongside Tom Hanks (2009); and Roman Polanski’s thriller The Ghost Writer (2010).
In 2016, Ewan McGregor made his directorial debut with a film adaptation of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, in which he played the main role. In 2017, he teamed up with Boyle again for T2 Trainspotting, which revisited the main protagonists of the cult classic.
Star Wars fans may know McGregor better as Obi-Wan Kenobi, an iconic role he first embodied in Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999) and most recently in the eponymous Disney+ series.
McGregor won a Golden Globe in the category of best actor in a miniseries or television film for his work in the third season of the series Fargo (2017). In 2021, he won the Emmy Award for lead actor in a limited series for his role in the Netflix show Halston. McGregor’s European Film Award honors came for Moulin Rouge! and The Ghost Writer.
You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder premiered at South by Southwest. It is a road trip drama, inspired by the father-daughter duo’s real-life stories. Clara also co-wrote the script, with Vera Bulder and Ruby Caster.
McGregor is currently filming the miniseries A Gentleman in Moscow, which he is also producing.
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opened Friday evening with Karim Aïnouz’s period drama Firebrand, starring Vikander as Catherine Parr, the final wife of Jude Law’s Henry VIII, sandwiched between musical performances by British duo Morcheeba and Crowe and band. The 57th edition of the festival runs through July 8, with its jury including Patricia Clarkson.