ewan mcgregor jack the giant slayer

An ancient war is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants. Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack (Nicholas Hoult), into the battle of his life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom and its people, and the love of a brave princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend… and gets the chance to become a legend himself. Directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men 2), ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ also stars Stanley Tucci as the deceitful Lord Roderick; Ian McShane as the besieged King Brahmwell; Bill Nighy as the giants’ leader, General Fallon; and Ewan McGregor as palace guard Elmont. The film opens in cinemas on March 1st in the US and March 22nd in the UK. My interview with Nicholas Hoult for the film can be found here, while my Eleanor Tomlinson interview can be read here.

Can you tell us a little bit about your character Elmont? Bryan Singer describes him as a kind of swashbuckling Errol Flynn character, who does everything with grace and charm and flair.

Ewan McGregor: Yeah (laughs), he was fun to play. Elmont is the leader of The Guardians, an elite group of top-tier royal knights, and also the royal family’s personal head of security – which means he spends much of his time looking after Princess Isabelle. He takes his responsibilities very seriously, and it’s not an easy job because she’s always dressing up in peasant clothes and giving him the slip (laughs). She has all kinds of escape routes from the castle that he doesn’t know about. And The Guardians, they’re like the “top knights”, there are other knights in the film but they’re basically the best of the best. Me and Eddie Marsan are in charge of looking after the princess. Eleanor Tomlinson’s character Isabelle, she’s dissatisfied being a princess, she doesn’t feel like she has any freedom.

You got to wear quite the dashing costume in the film….

Ewan McGregor: I did! It was gorgeous, it was so sexy (laughs). I’d been waiting all my life to wear black leather, biker studded armor (laughs). I couldn’t believe it when I went for my first fitting and I saw the drawings, I was like, “Oh yes, that’ll do nicely!” And it was, it was gorgeous. It was not easy to climb in though, and a lot of the time it was raining and muddy, and the costume was not easy to walk around in. But then, the real armor back in the day wasn’t easy to walk around in either, so what can you do?

Ewan McGregor Nicholas Hoult and  Eleanor Tomlinson

Central to the story is Jack’s relationship with his would-be mentor, Elmont, which follows its own comical and ultimately rewarding path….

Ewan McGregor:  Yeah. Jack looks up to Elmont like a kind of big brother and role model, as do most of the citizens of Cloister. The Guardians are held in high esteem. They wear armor and look after the kingdom and, I suppose, for a young man like Jack, their lives seem quite exciting. He gets a look into that lifestyle. It was fun working with Nicholas on that dynamic, he was a lot of fun – we had some funny scenes together.

And the motion capture was not exclusive to those portraying giants, I read that you took your turn in the mo-cap arena. How was that, and what was it like mixing the practical effects with special effects?

Ewan McGregor: The special effects team were so good. This film was a mixture of what’s really there, what will be there at the end of the day, and then what’s in your imagination. My movements were recorded and digitized so that I could be animated in moments that required an extreme fall or jump. They could film me running to jump, then create my image flying through the air and then cut to my landing. In the big battle scene there was a lot of fire on the set, a lot of action, drama – it was good. That was an exciting scene to shoot, it full of energy and movement. We had about 200 extras, who were all fantastic, and there were horses running up the drawbridge. It was all quite impressive.

I thought the locations were pretty impressive as well?

Ewan McGregor: Yeah, definitely. We shot on a lot of different locations. When we find the land of the giants and we get to the top of the beanstalk, finding this big gargoyles mouth that we climb through which leads us to the land of Gantua, we shot that first. And that was very beautiful, the designer done a fantastic job of taking stuff that’s there then adding to it. It was very clever. We would shoot in a little forest and the designers would add waterfalls, rivers – it’s very very clever. It rained a lot on this shoot though, so it was pretty muddy wherever we would go (laughs).

Ewan McGregorStanley TucciNicholas Hoult and  Eddie Marsan