Touchy

Ewan McGregor explains how he was instructed in the ways of gay sex

HALSTON (L to R) EWAN MCGREGOR as HALSTON in episode 105 of HALSTON. Cr. ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA/NETFLIX © 2021

Actor Ewan McGregor, star of the forthcoming limited Ryan Murphy series Halston, has opened up about his experience playing gay characters, and how he prepared for the show’s sex scenes.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, McGregor, 54, talks about playing a number of gay roles throughout his career, and how the approach to sex scenes has changed.

“This was the first thing I’ve ever done where we had an intimacy coordinator,” McGregor said of the series. It was such a relief. It’s about f*cking time. The temptation in my experience is just for the director to go, ‘Just do whatever.’ It’s embarrassing. That’s not fair on either actor to do that.”

He would know. Early in his career, McGregor played queer roles in a number of films including Velvet Goldmine and The Pillow Book, which required full-frontal nudity, and the actor to perform some graphic sex scenes.

Related: How ‘Halston’ director Frederic Tcheng uncovered the world of a lost queer hero

Of course, attitudes about performing sex scenes aren’t the only thing that has changed over the course of McGregor’s 30-year career. The actor also addressed criticisms of his casting in the lead of Halston; McGregor is straight, while the character is gay.

“I hear the discussion and I respect both sides of it, I really do,” he said of the debate over the casting of queer roles. “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.” McGregor’s allusion to Porter refers to a 2019 Hollywood Reporter story in which Porter expressed his frustration with straight actors playing gay characters for accolades while gay actors often struggle to get work.

“If it had been a story about Halston’s sexuality more, then maybe it’s right that gay actors should play that role,” McGregor further explained. “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.”

McGregor then goes on to detail his extensive preparation for the role, including learning to sew, studying hours of film footage of Halston, and even meeting with Liza Minnelli to discuss the character. He also discusses his legacy with Star Wars, and the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+.

Halston arrives on Netflix May 14.