In Cassandra's Dream, Woody Allen’s latest movie (which opens in limited release on Friday), Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell play brothers in London who try to improve their lots in life by falling into crime. It’s a dead-serious thriller from Allen, one that makes his previous dark London movie, Match Point, look almost chipper by comparison.
When the film played at the Toronto Film Festival last September, EW sat down with McGregor to see if every actor is still dying to be in a Woody Allen movie, what it’s like working with the guy, and what Star Wars and The Island did for his career.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So this is Woody Allen doing something different, huh?
EWAN MCGREGOR: I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. Last week we were at the Venice Film Festival, having our press conference, and all of the questions were to Woody Allen, as it should be. So, we just sat and listened to his quiet answers, and it was lovely to listen to because there were some great European, deeply intellectual questions flown out that he listened to very intently, and then went, ”Well, all I can tell you is that it’s a story I wrote about two nice boys that were brought up by two nice parents and things went wrong in their lives.” And he is just so simple about it!
He lets the work speak for itself.
Yeah, yeah. People were asking about Greek tragedy and Cassandra and Cain and Abel and the murder being discussed under a tree, and he was like, ”You know, it’s very possible that I’ve read all of the books, and it’s possible that it subconsciously ended up on the paper. But I just wrote a story of two nice boys.”
I always wonder what its like when an actor gets a call and Woody wants to meet with you. Was this the first time for you, getting a call from Woody?
Yeah, yeah. I mean, in terms of directors there isn’t anyone else, is there? There are great directors out there, and I’ve been able to work with some fantastic directors, but there isn’t anybody else like him so, of course, when you get the call, you go straight over to New York.
Have you talked to other actors about that — the idea that if you’ve had some success, you hope that Woody calls at some point, and if he does, you go? Is that the consensus in the community?
Of course. I think so. I mean, sadly, that’s how I felt. Drop everything and go. Not to the point where I pulled out of anything else, because luckily I didn’t have anything else on at the time. You have to do it, and it’s quick. He shoots so quickly, and that’s another thing about him that we can talk about. But in terms of feeling like you’re in a Woody Allen film, there is so much myth about him as well. In the acting community there are so many stories that I had heard about how he doesn’t speak to you or call you by name or direct you, and I heard he fires you. So, you go into it with all this — and then he spoke to me every day, called me by my name, directed me really thoroughly, and I wasn’t fired! So, luckily, none of it came to be true.
NEXT PAGE: ”My first meeting with him, he came and he said, ‘I’ve seen some of your work, and I have a part I think you might be nice for, and I just wanted to meet you in the flesh. Thanks for coming.’ And that was it.”