Ewan McGregor Explains How He Lost His Voice Before His ‘Moulin Rouge’ Audition With Baz Luhrmann

Everyone loves actor Ewan McGregor for his portrayal of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but most people don’t know that he is an impressive singer. He showed off his singing chops in 2001’s Moulin Rouge! from director Baz Luhrmann. However, Ewan McGregor had a tough time getting the role in Moulin Rouge! after losing his voice before his audition. Fortunately, Luhrmann had faith in him.

‘Moulin Rouge’ remains a beloved musical from Baz Luhrmann

Actor Ewan McGregor attends the photocall for Moulin Rouge at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001
Ewan McGregor | Pool BENAINOUS/DUCLOS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Ewan McGregor and Baz Luhrmann teamed up for Moulin Rouge! in 2001. The film is a jukebox musical that tells the story of a young poet, Christian (McGregor), who falls in love with a cabaret actor named Satine (Nicole Kidman). The cast also includes Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh, and John Leguizamo. 

To this day, it is many viewers’ favorite Luhrmann movie and one of McGregor’s most celebrated roles. The movie was a critical success and a hit with audiences, grossing over $184 million worldwide on a $50 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. Moulin Rouge! was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture. In 2019, a stage version of the musical opened up on Broadway and is still in production. 

Ewan McGregor shares his audition story for ‘Moulin Rouge’

Even though Ewan McGregor had become more of a star due to his role as Obi-Wan in Star Wars: Episode I  — The Phantom Menace, he still had to audition for Moulin Rouge!. In an interview with GQ, McGregor shares that due to his drinking and smoking, he had lost his voice, but he still decided to go to the audition anyway. 

“I was doing a play at the time in London called Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs,” McGregor says. “I was a drinker and a smoker and I was doing this huge play, you know, eight times a week and I have totally wrecked my throat. I mean, I really…I don’t know how I managed to get through it really. But I met [Luhrmann] to do the audition for Moulin Rouge! At that moment and so I came in and I did a U2 song for him. He wanted me to sing something for him…but my voice was shot to pieces. But I guess he saw whatever he wanted to see.”

McGregor mentioned that he did audition for Luhrmann for Romeo + Juliet, but didn’t get cast. However, he is grateful that Luhrmann chose him for Moulin Rouge! because he really enjoyed the experience of making it. 

“I don’t know if there can be such an experience again,” McGregor explains. “The scale of it. I love Baz because he dreams big.”

Baz Luhrmann returns with ‘Elvis’

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‘Star Wars’: Ewan McGregor Explains How Alec Guinness Inspired His Obi-Wan Kenobi Performance

After going almost a decade since his last film The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann finally returns with Elvis, a biopic about the life of Elvis Presley. The movie stars Austin Butler as Elvis along with Tom Hanks as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The movie is currently in theaters and Butler’s performance is one that needs to be watched. 

Meanwhile, Mcgregor can be seen in Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+. The series brings McGregor back to the Star Wars universe along with Hayden Christensen, who returns as Darth Vader.