Ewan McGregor Reveals Battle With Alcohol

Ewan McGregor Reveals Battle With Alcohol
Ash Knotek/Snappers/ZUMA

updated 07/05/2005 at 06:00 PM EDT

originally published 07/05/2005 06:00PM

Long before he was battling the forces of evil in Star Wars, Ewan McGregor was battling alcohol addiction, the actor has revealed in a candid interview.

"Originally I was a happy drunk. But later I was miserable because it's a depressant," the Scottish actor, 34, tells Playboy magazine. "I was just ashamed of myself, really."

McGregor, who has two children with his wife Eva Mavrakis, says he was shocked that his coworkers seemed to overlook what was obviously a glaring problem. "None of my directors ever said, 'You know, I'd rather you didn't drink at work.' None of them. And they must have known," he says. "I was reeking of (alcohol)."

The Scottish actor doesn't mention which films he made while drinking too much, but says his habit may have limited his performances. "When you work drunk, you find one way to play a scene and that's it."

McGregor, who played a heroin addict in Trainspotting in 1996, and stars in the upcoming The Island, says he stopped drinking because he was afraid he'd lose all he'd worked for. "I knew I was lucky, and somehow I knew that if I didn't stop, everything would go tits up – my career, my family, my everything."

And despite his rise in fame, McGregor, who has been sober for 4 1/2 years, insists that isn't what propels him to work. "If you chase fame, you're just going to end up miserable and unhappy," he tells Playboy. "I'm not interested in fame, because you'll never be famous enough. … You'll never wake up one day and go, 'I'm f---ing famous, and I'm really happy.'"

Carrying on his message in another medium, McGregor has spoken up in his native Scotland, just as G-8 leaders of the world are gathering to meet there, and is calling for international action to help children afflicted by poverty.

"These eight leaders are going to have at their fingertips the power to make extraordinary changes in the world, truly to make poverty history for these people," McGregor said Sunday at the start of a UNICEF workshop. "Now it's time to hear the voices from the developing world, especially young voices."

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