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article imageActor Ewan McGregor turns political on 'The Ghost Writer' disc Special

By Earl Dittman     Aug 4, 2010 in Entertainment
Despite the controversy plaguing Roman Polanski, McGregor explains why he was still determined to act for the director in 'The Ghost Writer' (on Blu-ray/DVD). Also out on disc this week: 'A Prophet,' 'James And The Giant Peach,' 'Heroes' and 'Hawaii 5-0.'
When Ewan McGregor discovered that filmmaker Roman Polanski would be directing the political thriller The Ghost Writer, the Scottish actor simply couldn't pass up on the chance to work with the legally controversial and award-winning director of such classics as The Pianist and Rosemary's Baby. “He is a legendary filmmaker, and from the things that I had been told by others who had worked with him that he really knows how to get the best out of his actors,” admits McGregor, who portrayed a heroin addict in Trainspotting and a young Obi-Wan Kanobi in George Lucas' recent trilogy of Star Wars movies. “He drives you quite hard, he pushes you quite hard, Roman. You're called upon to look for the truth of a scene, and to play it truthfully. He just wants you to find the details that make it very realistic. He has such brutal detailed work. So that's what he did with us, he was always pushing us to find the details in the truth of a scene.”
Ewan McGregor  in  The Ghost Writer
Ewan McGregor in 'The Ghost Writer'
Summit
In The Ghost Writer, a taut and shocking thriller that also stars Olivia Williams and Kim Cattail, McGregor is cast as “The Ghost,” a gifted ghostwriter who is hired to write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). Once he begins work on his delicate, secretive assignment, however, he quickly finds himself trapped in a web of political and sexual intrigue. Lang is implicated in a scandal over his administration's harsh tactics, and as the ghostwriter digs into the politician's past, he discovers secrets that threaten to jeopardize international relations forever.
Ewan McGregor + Kim Cattrall  in  The Ghost Writer
Ewan McGregor + Kim Cattrall in 'The Ghost Writer'
Summit
McGregor, the U.K.'s critically-acclaimed, 39-year-old stage and screen actor, visited a chilly and snowy New York City in late-February to talk with film journalists about the politics of The Ghost Writer, his thoughts on Polanski's legal problems, discusses the film's subject's matter, talks about his own feelings towards politics, his views on patriotism and McGregor reveals if he would ever consider writing his own autobiography.
Were you able to keep it out of your mind that The Ghost Writer is supposed to be a negative portrayal of Tony Blair? “There's no question that you're aware. Of course, Tony Blair is all over that character, there's no doubt about it. It's in the book, and the script is based on that, and the real world came closer and closer to the storyline every day. But if I'm in a film that says Britain has to go before a tribunal and was in fact responsible for torturing prisoners on behalf of the United States of America or not, if I'm in a film that says that's as it should be, then I'm very happy.”
Where did you see Roman Polanski personally in this story? Or did you see him in any of the characters? “There were some scenes that felt relevant to his life, as when the prime minister can't be extradited to Britain from the United States for war crimes, because the United States doesn't recognize the International Criminal Court. There was some discussion during that scene, about the countries which Roman can and can't go to. Roman isn't able to travel to Great Britain or the United States, obviously. So there were some moments there, that felt relevant to his life, and we all felt on the set, that it seemed quite poignant to Roman's life. But it wasn't discussed, and nobody talked about it at the time.”
What did you make of your ghostwriter character? “I saw a man who was not impressed, I kept coming back to that. He's certainly not interested in politicians, or politics. So not really impressed by anyone, or anything. And there's a certain amount of failure in his career, in that he's ghost writing books. But I also saw him as someone who was quite content, and not bothered. There's a certain kind of 'fuck it' quality to him, that I liked. He doesn't give a damn about much.”
Ewan McGregor + Pierce Brosnan in  The Ghost Writer
Ewan McGregor + Pierce Brosnan in 'The Ghost Writer'
Summit
Would you say that you're anything like The Ghost -- politically? “I'm not that into politics, and I'm not that interested in politicians. In fact, I'm completely uninterested in politicians. I can't read a newspaper article about politics, I just can't find myself interested in it. Because I don't really believe in them very much. In Britain anyway, they seem to prove over and over that they're people who are not particularly trustworthy. They're always found to be trading political ideals in houses of parliament and voting for each other on papers to get further up the rungs of power. So I don't know, I just find them to be – fairly despicable people. So I'm not interested in them, really. But I am a member of the world, and I'm interested in the world. I have a strong sense of things that are right and wrong. I often think that politicians are not the people that end up making a difference. However, in this film, the ex-prime minister is going to be held accountable for his actions, and is going to be tried. And to have to explain his decisions to bring Britain into the Iraq war, and whether British forces were involved in torturing -- or interrogating – prisoners on behalf of the United States. Which should be an illegal war crime. And he's going to have to make testament to that. If our film says that's the way it should be, then I'm very happy to be involved in that. Because I think that's the way it should be. And I think that our politicians, even those, or especially those who hold the highest seats in government, shouldn't therefore be considered to be above the law. Two weeks ago, our ex-prime minister had to do that very thing and sit in front of a panel, and explain himself. And I don't know what will become of that, whether that will be something that makes a difference to the people of Great Britain, or the people who have lost their children fighting in that war. Or the innocent people who were killed in the war in Iraq. Or not. Probably not! But I think it's still right that it should happen. And it's a great shame that it's unlikely to ever happen here. And that we're unlikely to ever see Bush have to do that. Because he'd be too busy playing golf!”
Related to that, how would you describe your patriotism? “I've got no idea. That's an interesting question. Probably not one for an actor.”
Ewan McGregor in  The Ghost Writer
Ewan McGregor in 'The Ghost Writer'
Summit
Patriotic and or maybe against one's government, for example... “Well, governments are voted in by the people, and the race to come into power, is very rarely the themes that are spoken about, and talked about during that race, and that actually takes place when that party gets into power. And people have a right to be patriotic, but it certainly doesn't have to be wrapped up in the party politics of that country. In fact, usually not, I think. We elect politicians to power, and they let us down. That's what happens, and that's what will probably always happen.”
This movie is about writing an autobiography. Have you ever thought about writing one yourself?
“I haven't thought about it, no. I'd be interested in trying to write stories. You know, Dirk Bogarde wrote some really beautifully stories. No, not him...Yeah! He wrote some really beautiful books. Am I right? Or am I confusing my Bogart! Yeah, in his later years, he wrote some really nice novels. And I like that for an actor, going into writing that way. I think that's nice.”
Untitled
Summit
So, do you think people would like to read about your life, so far? “I'm not sure I'd be a very interesting person to read about. Probably not, really! But I quite like people who write their autobiographies, and then someone finds them in their attic after they die. And they expose themselves as being horrible monsters! Or, you know, having had fifteen wives or something. You know, in secret. I don't know...I like the idea of people who expose themselves after they've died. But I wouldn't really have anything to talk about. It would be boring.”
Well, you've got lots of time, you're still young. “Yeah, maybe I can have some dirty little secrets made with people in the meantime.”
And leave them in your attic... “Yeah. maybe I can write something that's just a whole crock of crap. And just leave it up there.”
The Ghost Writer Bonus Features: “The Ghost Writer: Fiction Or Reality” and “The Cast Of The Ghost Writer” featurettes and “An Interview With Roman Polanski.”
ALSO RELEASED THIS WEEK ON BLU-RAY+ DVD
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Fox
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Cheesiest Edition Blu-ray Disc + DVD Combo Pack
A hilarious family comedy based on the best-selling illustrated novel by Jeff Kinney, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid chronicles the adventures of wisecracking pre-teen Greg Heftily, who must somehow survive the scariest time of anyone's life – middle school. Convinced it's the "dumbest idea ever invented," Heftily considers junior high school a place rigged with hundreds of social landlines, not the least of which are wedgies, swirliest, bullies, lunchtime banishment of the cafeteria floor and a festering piece of cheese with nuclear cooties that he must overcome to become popular. His diary -- or "journal" -- chronicles his thoughts, tales of family trials and tribulations, and (would be) schoolyard triumphs. From its origins as a series of on line cartoons, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid exploded onto the pop culture scene when Jeff Kinney's first novel was published in 2007. From Hotel For Dogs director Thor Blumenthal, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid features rising stars Zachary Gordon, Robert Apron and Rachael Harris, as well as Steve Zahn. Bonus Features: Combo Pack includes the film on Blu-ray, DVD and as a digital copy all custom packaged with additional cartoon pages and "Greg's Deleted Diary Pages" additional footage.
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CBS/Paramount
Hawaii Five-O - The Complete Ninth Season
Over three decades after the original Hawaii Five-O series and its stars -- Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Zulu, Moe Kale, Sharon Farrell and Kan Song – wished its loyal fans a hearty “aloha” in this final, ninth season a little too soon. Why? Well, Hawaii Five-O is coming back to primetime this fall to thrill a whole new generation of fans with Australian actor Alex O'Loughlin (The Shield, Moonlight, Three Rivers) in the role of Detective Steve McGarrett, Scott Caan will be playing McGarrett's second-in-command Danny (“Danno”) Williams and former Lost island inhabitant Daniel Dae Kin as Detective Chin Ho Kelly. In the mid-70's, fans would make a weekly visit to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu -- where the action was non-stop and the criminals were downright despicable. But if you break the law there, in the greatest vacation spot on Earth, you had to deal with Hawaii's bravest: Five-O. Joined by his right-hand men Danno and Chin Ho, no-nonsense Detective Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) was tracking down the bad guys and continuing to book 'em in 1976, the ninth and final season of Hawaii Five-O – one of the longest-running crime shows in American TV history. These mid-70's remastered episodes find lawman McGarrett tussling with some particularly tough hombres in episodes such as “Nine Dragons,” “Heads,” “You're Dead” and “Practical Jokes Can Kill You It.” Here's your chance to catch how the original Det. McGarrett and Danno kept Oahu free from crime. Now, the hi-tech gadgets, the advances in medical technology and the constant Big Brother surveillance of the 21 century should make life for the new Hawaii Five-O crime-fighting team of 2010 a little easier -- to wipe the criminal scum off the beautiful Oahu streets. Bonus Feature: Episodic Promos.
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Sony
A Prophet
Directed by Jacques Audiard, A Prophet, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, details the gritty prison career of a nineteen-year-old Malik (Tahar Rahim, 2009 European Film Award Winner for Best Actor). Arriving at the jail, he is cornered by the leader of the ruling Corsican gang (Niels Arestrup, 2009 César Award for Best Supporting Actor) and forced to carry out a number of dangerous missions including drug trafficking and brutal hits. Over time Malik is able to earn the gang leader's confidence and rise up the prison ranks, all the while secretly devising his own plans. A Prophet was directed by Jacques Audiard, based on an original idea by Abdel Raouf Dafri. Screenplay by Thomas Bidegain and Jacques Audiard, after an original screenplay by Abdel Raouf Dafri and Nicolas Peufaillit. Among its many awards and nominations, A Prophet was honored by BAFTA (British) as Best Film Not in the English Language; by the Cèsar Awards (French) with 9 awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Tahar Rahim), Best Supporting Actor (Niels Arestrup), Best Cinematography and Best Writing and by the National Board of Review as Best Foreign Language Film. Blu-ray + DVD Bonus Features: Commentary with director Jacques Audiard, actor Tahar Rahim and co-screenwriter Thomas Bidegain; Deleted scenes; Screen tests and Rehearsal footage, BD ONLY: BD-Live! Enabled to download exclusive content, register for rewards and give survey feedback.
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Universal
Heroes - The Complete Fourth Season
What an incredible, suspenseful and mind-bending four seasons it has been with the cheerleader, the carnival gang, the killers with strange powers, the good guys with equally super-human powers, Milo and his politically ambitious First Family of New York and HRG (Mr. Horn Rimmed Glasses). Like Lost, from week-to-week, Heroes always kept you guessing. Experience all the intrigue and suspense of the first to final episode of Heroes Season 4 -- a five-disc set that includes all 18 gripping episodes from the fourth season's volume, Redemption. As the heroes mourn fallen friends and face dangerous new foes, prepare for a wild ride, filled with shocking twists and turns, through an ominous funhouse that culminates in the final episode, a “Brave New World.” Blu-ray + DVD Bonus Features: “Deconstructing Skylar” and “Milo Speaks” featurettes; “Heroes Revolution” - creator Tim Kring on the web series for Heroes, “Genetics Of A Scene” - on-going series with the cast and crew providing an in-depth look at the production process specific scenes; Deleted & extended scenes; Screensaver - Sullivan Brothers Design Gallery screensaver and Audio commentary - cast and crew commentaries the episodes "Once Upon a Time in Texas," "Shadow-boxing," "The Fifth Stage" and "Brave New World." BLU-RAY ONLY: BD-LIVE - access to more content, the latest trailers and more; pocketBLU - app uses iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Blackberry, Android, Windows and Mac computers offers advanced features such as Advanced Remote Control, Video Timeline, Mobile-To-Go and Browse Titles. U-CONTROL; PICTURE IN PICTURE - Video commentaries with Tim Kring, Nate Goodman, Charlie Lieberman, Adam Armus, Kay Foster and series stars, Robert Knepper, Adrian Pasdar and Greg Grunberg; HERO CONNECTIONS- Bios on your favorite; BEHIND THE BIG TOP FEATURETTE: Dennis Hammer, Robert Knepper, Ray Park and Dawn Oliviera on joining this season; Deleted scenes and extended scenes and MY SCENES - Bookmark your favorite scenes from the series.
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Disney
James And The Giant Peach Blu-Ray+ DVD Combo Pack
In this all-new Blu-Ray + DVD special edition of producer Tim Burton's cinematic adaptation of novelist Roald Dahl's best-selling book for the whole family – James And the Giant Peach -- the acclaimed director of Alice In Wonderland captured the hearts of fans and critics all across the world with this 1996 theatrical release. Inspired by Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book, Burton, screenwriter Denise Di Novi and director Henry Selick combine a fascinating mix of live-action, stop-motion animation and computer-generated special effects to create a world beyond our imagination in James and the Giant Peach: Special Edition – available for the first time ever on in a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack. After the daring rescue of a spider, a young boy named James gains possession of some magic crocodile tongues. When James spills them in the garden, out sprouts an enormous peach! Climbing inside, he meets an astonishing cast of characters and embarks on a magical odyssey full of thrills and adventure. Voiced by an all-star cast, including legendary actors Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Simon Callow and Jane Leeves, and featuring the celebrated music of Randy Newman, this classic story is delicious entertainment for the whole family. Blu-ray Bonus Features: BD Exclusive! - “Spike the Aunts Interactive Game – inspired by the game that plays after the end movie credits; Production featurette - making of the film; “Good News” music video performed by Randy Newman; Still frame gallery and Original theatrical trailer.
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BBC Video
Days That Shook The World: The Complete Third Season - Days That Shook The World: The Complete Series
In a another installment, the BBC brings the third season of Days That Shook the World, the fascinating examination of the most seismic moments in history, to DVD. This captivating BBC and History Channel co-production utilizes dramatic reconstruction, eye-witness accounts and archive footage, bring these and other events from world history alive for young and old to relive or to discover for the first time. The third and newly released season profiles impactful events including the armistice that ended World War I, the Six Day War, and the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Additionally, one episode in this installment compares the Boston Tea Party of 1773 with the independence of India from British colonial rule in 1947, while another examines the fine line between fact and fiction that was blurred by the publication of The Hitler Diaries and Orson Wells' radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Also available the same time is Days That Shook the World: The Complete Series, which features every episode of this compelling series in one six-disc box set.
NOW AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY
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Universal
The Breakfast Club: The 25th Anniversary Edition
From genius writer/director writer/director John Hughes – the mastermind behind Sixteen Candles and Weird Science – presents the world with his iconic portrait of 1980s American high school life with with 1985's The Breakfast Club. With Saturday detention already started, they were simply the Jock, the Princess, the Brain, the Criminal and the Basket Case, but by that afternoon they had become closer than any of them could have imagined. Featuring an all-star '80s cast including Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy, this warm-hearted coming-of-age comedy helped define an entire generation! Bonus Features: “Sincerely Yours: 12-Part Documentary”; “The Most Convenient Definitions: The Origins Of The Brat Pack” featurette and feature commentary with Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall.
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MGM/Fox
Bull Durham: Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack
In 1988, director/writer Ron Shelton sneaks moviegoers into a section of a smelly, silly and sardonic section of a minor league baseball team locker room. In Bull Durham, the baseball season gets off to a rocky start when the Durham Bulls' new catcher, "Crash" Davis (Kevin Costner), punches out the cocky young pitcher, "Nuke" LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), the newbie that he's just been hired to train. When the Bulls' most avid cheerleader, sexy Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), informs both men that each season she chooses one player to share her bed and Nuke and Crash are this year's "draft picks." After Crash passes on the offer, Nuke eagerly enlists as Annie's summer fling...until Crash's jealousy takes over and he convinces Nuke that sex with Annie will jinx the Bulls' newfound winning streak! DVD Bonus Features: Audio commentary by director Ron Shelton; Audio commentary from Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins and the featurettes “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” “Diamonds in the Rough,” “Between The Line - The Making of Bull Durham,” “Kevin Costner Profile” and “Sports Wrap.”
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MGM/Fox
Kalifornia Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack
In this 1992 serial killer road movie, excitement, adventure and unimaginable terror await two artists who may be incredibly book smart but seriously lacking in the common sense department. When urban intellectuals Brian (David Duchovny) and Carrie (Michelle Forbes) set out on a cross-country trip to research a book about serial killers, they share the ride with a couple they barely know -- Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) and his girlfriend Adele (Juliette Lewis). Locked in a car hurtling westward – towards Kalifornia – the four travelers struggle to find some common ground. But when they finally do connect, Early's violent nature abruptly emerges, and the terrified Brian and Carrie realize that they don't need to go very far to learn about ruthless killers...because they're already face to face with one. Bonus Features: Unrated version on Blu-ray plus Rated and Unrated on DVD.
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MGM/Fox
Escape From New York Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack
Director John Carpenter's 1981 thrilling landmark film that transformed the the look and pace of the action movie hero forever. Moving along at a breakneck pace, Escape From New York leapt to cult status with high-octane action, edge-of-your-seat suspense and a mind-blowing vision of lone warrior Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) battling his way out of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan. Hailed everything from "stylish and scary,” "dark and dangerous" to "gloriously...fun,” Escape From New York is a furiously entertaining thriller that grabs you by the throat and won't let go. In a world ravaged by crime, the entire island of Manhattan has been converted into a walled prison where brutal prisoners roam. But when the US president (Donald Pleasence) crash-lands inside, only one man can bring him back: notorious outlaw and former Special Forces war hero Snake Plissken (Russell). But time is short. In 24 hours, an explosive device implanted in his neck will end Snake's mission - and his life - unless he succeeds! Bonus Feature: Lossless audio and Original theatrical trailer.
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