Ewan McGregor’s Biggest Career Regret

Truth rating: 10
Ewan McGregor in a dark gray suit on the red carpet.

By Brianna Morton |

Ewan McGregor in a dark gray suit on the red carpet.

(Getty Images)

Ewan McGregor might have a few regrets in his life, but one of his biggest regrets is surprising. The Scottish actor had a falling out with Danny Boyle, the director of Trainspotting, that lasted years. It wasn’t until after the two had a silly moment on a plane that they were able to reconcile.

McGregor and Boyle appeared on The Graham Norton Show in 2017. Asked by the titular Graham Norton about their fight, the pair sheepishly admitted that they didn’t speak for over a decade. It all began with the movie The Beach. Boyle had cast McGregor in his last three films: Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary. But when it came time to cast his fourth movie, Boyle chose to go with Leonardo DiCaprio instead.

This decision crushed McGregor and set off the yearslong silence between actor and director. Expressing his regret now, McGregor told Norton, “It didn’t really matter about The Beach, it was never about The Beach, it was about our friendship. …It made me a bit rudderless. I didn’t quite get it. We didn’t speak for such a long time, it was such a waste.” Years passed before the two crossed paths again.

Two Trainspotters Passing in the Night

Though they took pains to avoid each other, McGregor and Boyle still worked in the same industry. It was inevitable that they’d run into each other again. As it so happened, they found themselves somewhat reunited on a first class flight from Shanghai. According to McGregor, there were only about four people in first class: McGregor, his wife, Boyle, and English director Stephen Daldry. The flight was long, so after a while, they began falling asleep. One by one, the lights went out until it was clear that only McGregor and Boyle were awake. McGregor remembered thinking to himself, “This is it, this is the moment.” But he never managed to muster up the courage to approach his former friend and the moment passed.

It was a speech given by McGregor to honor Boyle that finally brought the two together. McGregor was asked to present Boyle’s hit 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire with a BAFTA award and he agreed. Boyle recalled the event, telling Norton, “He stood up on stage and he gave this amazing speech. And I was like in tears backstage, like, oh god.” That moment opened the doors of communication between the two, breaking years of silence.

Now that they were on speaking terms once again, McGregor and Boyle jumped right back into working together. They released T2 Trainspotting in 2017 to fairly positive reviews. The Star Wars actor admitted that the yearslong silent treatment was a mistake. “It’s a big regret of mine that it went on for so very long. It’s a shame we didn’t work together all those years.” Better late than never.


BBC. "Ewan McGregor and Danny Boyle didn’t speak for many years – The Graham Norton Show 2017 – BBC One." YouTube, 27 Jan. 2017.