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Interview with Ewan McGregor and Alison Lohman

On Filming the Tim Burton Movie, "Big Fish"

By

Big Fish Ewan McGregor

Ewan McGregor stars in "Big Fish," directed by Tim Burton.

Columbia Pictures
Can you talk about the circus scene and the elephant poop?
EWAN McGREGOR: Genius. How amazing was that moment when the elephant craps on screen? We'd shot the wide shot where you see the two elephant's bums and then me. We'd shot that and we'd moved in to do a close-up, so they were setting the camera here, so you just see a bit of elephant's leg. You didn't see his bum or anything. And as we were setting that up, it lifted its tail and we all went “QUICK,” and they widened the camera out. I got ready and there was no turnover. They just turned the camera on and I played the scene as it dumped next to me. Genius, and none of us thought it would make it to the film but it's genius that it did. There's not many elephants pooing on the big screen that I can remember. Not enough, actually. I'm trying to bring it back.

There were other animals there too. Working with the elephant was a real treat. You don't meet elephants every day and that elephant was around [a while]. We were shooting the circus stuff for a couple of weeks. It was lovely that big elephant lumbering through. It was just beautiful and you got to go up and give it an apple.

You bonded with the elephant?
EWAN McGREGOR: Yeah, it was nice. We all did. They're incredible animals. It's a real treat. I loved the circus people we worked with. I found them really interesting that there was a gypsy quality in their lives that's not dissimilar to ours, in a way, when it's on the move. I liked meeting the lion people, the big cat people. They were interesting. She was an Englishwoman. She spent her life with big cats and her son, who trained some of the tigers and stuff, since he was a kid he's been working with big cats.

Was any of that down with CG?
EWAN McGREGOR: No. See, this is the lovely thing about Tim is that we did most of it in the camera. There was very little effects stuff. WE did all the making Matthew bigger than he is, even though he's a very big guy, it was all done in the camera with forced perspectives. We didn't do green screen stuff. We did camera tricks, but we did them on the set there. And the special effects people built a beautiful lion's head. It was absolutely beautiful to look at, which is the lion's mouth my head is in is a prosthetic head. And then when you pull out for the wider shot, that's the real lion.

What was shooting in Alabama like?
EWAN McGREGOR: I loved it. I really did like it. I have very fond memories of working down there. My wife and my children were with me, and there's a great neighborliness about the South. People did come over with pies when we arrived. It was quite genuine. That's the way it is down there. I'd come home from work and there'd be [people] everywhere. All the neighborhood kids would be kicking around in backyards. That's how I grew up in Scotland. You'd come home from school and you'd just kick about the streets with all your mates. In London we can't do that [and I] certainly don't know that most people do that here.

How much could you relate to the parenting theme of this movie?
EWAN McGREGOR: I responded more as a son as opposed to as a father, I think. I think it's about a father and son relationship and so therefore I thought a lot about my dad while we were doing it. My father isn't dissimilar to Edward Bloom in that he's very gregarious and he loves telling stories, my dad. He doesn't tell huge stories about his life like Albert's Edward Bloom does, but he loves telling stories. If you were to go back to my hometown with him, he wouldn't be able to walk down the street without (telling old stories). He used to frustrate us in our childhood because it would take us so long to get anywhere, because he'd always be stopping to speak to someone - it would take hours to get anywhere.

There was a rumor your wife was going to make a movie but she wanted Johnny Depp to star in it, not you.
EWAN McGREGOR: No, such nonsense. It was a funny story about [how] my wife adapted a Spanish novel, wrote a script, and said that she would like Johnny Depp to play [in it]. But it was such a small joke between me and my wife, I don't know how it ended up in a magazine.

Will you miss working on “Star Wars?”
EWAN McGREGOR: It is over. It'll never be over because I'll always be in them. I'll always have been in them, so it's not something that's gone. It's something that the third one will come out in 2005 and I'll always be very happy to have been in them. I won’t miss the blue screen experience. I won't miss making them because I find them very difficult to make, but I'll always be glad to have been in them.

Additional “Big Fish” Cast Interviews:
Albert Finney/Jessica Lange and Danny DeVito/Helena Bonham Carter/Steve Buscemi

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
"Big Fish" Photo Gallery
"Big Fish" Soundtrack News
"Big Fish” Trailer, Credits and Movie News

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