How Ewan McGregor Confronted His Own Demons

05/21/2009 at 11:00 AM EDT

How Ewan McGregor Confronted His Own Demons
Ewan McGregor
Angels & Demons costar Ewan McGregor has demons – and angels – of his own.

"It's interesting that people used to think that smoking was glamorous," the Scotsman, 38, speaking to Men's Health for its June issue (on sale next Tuesday), said of one of his demons, that of his addiction to lighting up. "I used to think it was pretty cool."

Then he realized that smoking is lethal, and he kicked the habit. As he did drinking. How? "What matters most with any regimen, whether it's to lose weight or stop drinking or smoking, is your willingness to seek help and your desire to say no more. The voice in your head that says 'I chose not to' is what ultimately makes the difference between not changing and making changes that last."

He admits breaking the habit wasn't easy. "I wasn't someone who could smoke or drink in moderation, and I recognized that those things would kill me. I started visualizing the doctor telling me that I had cancer from smoking or that I was extremely ill because of how much I'd been drinking. What kind of regret would I have if I had to tell my children or my wife that I was dying because of something I could have done something about? I didn't want to be that kind of man."

Enter the angels. Of his happy, 14-year marriage to the former Eve Mavrakis, a French production designer with whom he has three daughters (ages 13, 8 and 7), McGregor says, "From the moment Eve and I met it was right, and I hesitate to explain the reasons behind that."

Pressed for pointers, he responds, "If you spend too much time 'working' on your relationship, I don't think it's a relationship worth being in. With Eve, I've never had to work. We just have it. I'm in it, she's in it, and that's that … If you're attracted to someone, you're comfortable with them and have mutual respect, the rest will take care of itself."

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