Scottish actor Ewan McGregor has earned a pristine reputation by jumping between Hollywood blockbusters and small indies, all helmed by some of the best directors around. One month he’s in Trainspotting, Perfect Sense or Beginners, then he’ll do Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, Tim Burton’s Big Fish or George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels.

His latest film, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, fits into the former category. Directed by Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules) and written by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) it’s the fictional story of how a publicity stunt aimed to paint foreign relations in a good light turns into a transformative journey for two people (played by McGregor and Emily Blunt) who are tasked with trying to introduce the geographically specific sport of salmon fishing into the unforgiving heat of Yemen.

I recently spoke to McGregor about his reaction to the film’s lengthy and specific title, what distinguishes Hallström from some of the other directors he’s worked with, how it felt to be publicly praised by Beginners co-star Christopher Plummer at the Oscars, and his thoughts on the recently moved Jack the Giant Killer. I also snuck in a Star Wars question for good measure.

Read the interview after the jump.

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A trailer for the new Lasse Hallström film, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, has just been released. We know, it’s a terrible title. Is it a metaphor for some kind of life experience? Actually, no. It’s quite literal. The film, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt is about the act of trying to introduce the act of salmon fishing to the Middle Eastern country of Yemen. But the reason why might surprise you, as this trailer surprised me. It looks delightful. Check it out below. Read More »

If you’re more interested in the typical fall slate of festival entrees than summer’s glut of tentpole action fare, this is a great week. The Toronto International Film Festival announced the first wave of films that will play the fest in September. This is a batch of about 50 titles, which makes up only a small chunk of the programming. Usually TIFF features between two and three hundred films. But these are some of the highest-profile entries.

Below you’ll find rundowns on the new films from George Clooney, Bennett Miller, Jay & Mark Duplass, Todd Solondz, Francis Ford Coppola, Cameron Crowe, Sarah Polley, Fernando Meirelles, Lars von Trier, Marc Forster, Steve McQueen, Alexander Payne, and Lynne Ramsay. No announcement yet of the Midnight Madness programming choices, always some of my faves, but this is a great start. Read More »

Lasse Hallström Directing ‘The Hypnotist’

We’ve had a few years where one of the biggest questions in development news was ‘what can be the new Twilight?’ Will the new question be ‘what’s the new Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?’ With David Fincher hard at work on the first English-language adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novel, you can bet that will be one of the most-asked questions in studio exec offices in 2011 on both sides of the Atlantic.

One film that might seem like an option but probably won’t be is The Hypnotist, the first in a series of novels by Lars Kepler. Lasse Hallström will direct. Read More »

salmon-fishing-cast-hallstrom

Early last year, Slumdog Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy wrote an adaptation of Paul Torday‘s novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. The script was well-received, making the 2009 Brit List of unproduced screenplays.

Some time after that, Bill Condon came aboard the project to direct. But his new responsibilities on Breaking Dawn preclude making the picture. So he’s been replaced by Lasse Hallström. A bit more exciting than that is the cast: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas. Read More »

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