Ewan McGregor’s ‘Moulin Rouge’ Singing Coach Called Him a ‘Rock God’

Ewan McGregor is prepping for his return to the Star Wars franchise, reprising his role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the all-new Disney+ series. But for his diehard fans, there’s another role that defines his early acting career.

When McGregor appeared in the 2001 musical romance film Moulin Rouge!, he not only received critical acclaim for his heartfelt performance but fans everywhere gave the actor rave reviews for his incredible singing voice. As it turns out, it wasn’t just viewers who were impressed with his singing chops. Around the time that the film was released, the vocal coach who worked with McGregor for Moulin Rouge! opened up about his singing skills, praising McGregor as a “rock god.”

Ewan McGregor impressed fans with his singing in ‘Moulin Rouge!’

In 2001, McGregor appeared in the film Moulin Rouge!, opposite acclaimed actor Nicole Kidman. As Christian, a young writer who falls in love with a courtesan named Satine, McGregor showcased his ability to act out dramatic love scenes with the perfect amount of intensity. Moulin Rouge! is a jukebox musical that features classic songs from stars such as Madonna, David Bowie, Nirvana, and Sting—and throughout the film, McGregor and Kidman got the chance to sing many of these popular songs.

Full of epic dance numbers and charming musical moments, Moulin Rouge! quickly became a smash hit. Fans all over the world raved about the Baz Luhrmann-directed film, and in particular, McGregor’s skill at belting out a tune.

What did Ewan McGregor’s vocal coach say about the actor’s singing abilities?

While viewers today know about McGregor’s vocal skills, in 2001, it came as a big surprise to fans. According to the New York Post, McGregor was eager to showcase what he could do. Vocal coach Andrew Ross revealed to the publication that “Ewan walked in the door, and it was like there was a sign above his head saying, ‘Rock god! Rock god!’ And as soon as he opened his mouth, he just blew me away.”

Ross went on to note “he said he’d love to record an album. He loves singing – it’s as big a part of Ewan as acting is.” The vocal coach discussed how he worked with both McGregor and Kidman in the weeks leading up to the filming of Moulin Rouge!. “He has a beautiful, clear upper register – it’s breathtakingly pure. And in the lower register, he can really get a bit of growl in his voice,” Ross noted, speaking of McGregor’s singing voice.

Has Ewan McGregor sung onscreen since ‘Moulin Rouge!’?

Ewan McGregor at the premiere of 'Doctor Sleep ' in 2019, long before he had an Obi-Wan Kenobi action figure.
Ewan McGregor | Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

While Ross might have been confident in McGregor’s singing abilities, the actor told Entertainment Tonight in 2001 that he was a bit nervous. “I’ve sung since I was a kid, but not like this,” he revealed. Of course, he went on to slay the role of Christian – and to this day, Moulin Rouge! stands out as one of McGregor’s greatest accomplishments. While the actor hasn’t appeared in a leading role in any major musicals since then, he did get the opportunity to sing “Be Our Guest” when he voiced the character of Lumiere in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, which was released in 2017.

These days, McGregor remembers the process of filming Moulin Rouge! with fondness. As he revealed to MTV in 2011, in honor of the film’s 10-year anniversary, “I had never sung like I was expected to sing for ‘Moulin Rouge,’ where the singing was a part of the storytelling and not just part of the character. I’ve only ever sung as a character, if you like, before, where if my singing wasn’t very good, it didn’t matter.” He noted that his favorite sequence was the tango scene, where he sang “Roxanne” by the Police. “I’ll never forget walking down through the rows of dancers really upset and singing. That was fantastic.”

RELATED: Nicole Kidman Reveals One of Her ‘Great Memories’ From Filming ‘Moulin Rouge!’