Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead Go From ‘Fargo’ to ‘Moscow’

The first time that Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead shot a scene together, they were in a bathtub, mostly naked. McGregor, in a maximally unflattering wig, was sticking his gut out as far as it would go.

“You were just trying to be as grotesque as you could be,” Winstead said affectionately.

This was on a recent afternoon in the chilly basement of a midtown hotel where McGregor and Winstead perched on a love seat, his jacket over his shoulders, his hand on her knee. They met in 2017, on the set of the third season of “Fargo,” co-starring as Ray Stussy, a hapless parole officer, and Nikki Swango, his grifter sweetheart. (McGregor also played Emmit Stussy, Ray’s twin.) Two years later, in 2019, they filmed “Birds of Prey” but did not share scenes. They are also both participants in the “Star Wars” franchise — McGregor in the ’90s and ’00s films and the more recent “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series, Winstead in “Ahsoka” — though again they did not share scenes. In 2021, Winstead gave birth to their son. The next year, they married.

Now, they have reunited onscreen for “A Gentleman in Moscow,” which premiered Friday on Paramount+ and debuts Sunday on Showtime. An adaptation of Amor Towles’s novel, it stars McGregor as Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, a mustached aristocrat sentenced to house arrest in a luxury hotel in the years following the Russian Revolution. Winstead appears as Anna Urbanova, an actress and the count’s sometimes girlfriend. Somehow, in the confines of the hotel, they make a life.

McGregor plays a Russian count imprisoned in a luxury hotel and Winstead an actress who becomes his companion.Credit…Ben Blackall/Paramount+ with Showtime

In an hourlong conversation, in a hotel somewhat more modest than Moscow’s Metropol, they discussed claustrophobia, facial hair and the benefits and detriments of working with a spouse. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

How did you get involved with “A Gentleman in Moscow”?

EWAN MCGREGOR It came to me first. I loved the grand nature of the drama, the love and loss and romance. I feel like it’s rarer and rarer to get a chance to play that stuff. At the heart of it, it’s about a man who’s learning to be a husband and learning to be a dad and crawling out of his ideas of the aristocratic way of life to find who he really is.

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