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Ewan McGregor stands up to ‘The Impossible’ challenges

This publicity film image released by Summit Entertainment shows from left Samuel JoslEwan McGregor Oaklee Pendergast scene from 'The Impossible.'

This publicity film image released by Summit Entertainment shows, from left, Samuel Joslin, Ewan McGregor and Oaklee Pendergast in a scene from "The Impossible." (AP Photo/Summit Entertainment, Jose Haro)

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Updated: January 21, 2013 2:40PM

Before Ewan McGregor gets into the land and water of his new movie “The Impossible,” why not pan up and talk about the stars?

“I wouldn’t want to see someone else playing Obi-Wan Kenobi,” he says, discussing the three new “Star Wars” films looming in the future for film fans.

“I am Obi now. And Alec Guinness isn’t available,”

McGregor, a native of Scotland, can come back down to earth now.

He plays Henry in “The Impossible” (opening Friday), based on the true story of a family that must survive when a tsunami hits Thailand. His wife Maria (Naomi Watts) rushes down a river of debris with their young son while Henry is trapped back at the hotel with their young boys.

“The script was an amazing read,” says McGregor, 41, who adds, “I didn’t even know it was a true story when I first read it. It just grabbed me because it was so honest and true about what it means to be a family. The lines of dialogue were so powerful.”

McGregor met with the real-life Henry. “His family came out to watch the filming. I also met with other survivors of the tsunami including an amazing woman in London who lost her husband in the disaster. Her experience was very similar.

“Just like Henry, this real-life woman found somewhere safe in a natural disaster to keep her children and went looking for the spouse,” he says.

McGregor, the father of girls, says that it was “physically more demanding hanging out and working with little boys.”

“There were more sporting occasions,” he says with a laugh. “And there wasn’t as much drama as there is with little girls. There is Shakespeare every day at my house going on in the kitchen. With boys, it’s more about table tennis and football.”

Now up for a Golden Globe Award for “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” McGregor just shot “August: Osage County” based on the Steppenwolf play by Tracy Letts and starring Meryl Streep, Juliette Lewis and Julia Roberts. “It’s always interesting when you’re acting on amazing writing,” McGregor says. “You can have a cerebral understanding of the lines and then you start playing it and feeling it.”

He marvels, “There’s a dinner scene with all the characters around the table at one place at one time. The scene called for a totally nasty atmosphere.”

This spring, he also will star in “Jack the Giant Slayer,” a modern-day fairy tale where the peace between men and giants is threatened.

“The giants are animated and the human beings are real,” he says. “I play one of the special guards in the kingdom. I’m in charge of the princess’ security, and she’s always giving me the slip.”

He doesn’t give you the slip when it comes to talking about those future “Star Wars” projects.

“George [Lucas] told me he wasn’t going to make more,” McGregor says. “But now there will be nine movies.

“I think people are excited. They’re big, legendary movies and massive interest in the film themselves. Who knows if I’ll be in it, but I’m excited.”

Big Picture News Inc.

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