The following is from page 136 onwards of 'The Wrong Way Round to Ewan McGregor'. Undeterred by various setbacks and disasters, Nathan is finally given the opportunity of working as an extra for two nights at Phuket bus station. On the first night, he waits to hear if he will become a featured extra, someone who will sit close to Ewan McGregor and possibly say a line of dialogue. After finishing his dinner in the catering tent, he heads for the toilet but discovers a second catering tent:
…this must be for the overspill. The tent had better lighting and the food was in rectangular hotel style metal containers. There was croquette potato and lamb shank and a table dedicated to fresh salad items. They even had cans of coke in the cool box. I grabbed a coke and a plate and got stuck in. This could be a long night, I thought, trying to justify my gluttony.
I sat on an empty table and got through half the grub but had to abandon it and stick to the coke. I didn’t want to walk on set all bloated and farty. After a while, I gazed over at a table and saw a man of about twenty eight who had black hair and the nervous energy of a film actor. There was someone beside him with a mousy fringe.
I suddenly realized it was Ewan McGregor. I was in the same catering tent as Mr McGregor, Dr McGregor if we were going to get pedantic, although if we were going to be really persnickety, he wouldn’t be allowed to use the title of Doctor because it was an honorary doctorate. Never mind all that, Ewan was bloody-well here. After applying for jobs, going to a casting, wading through websites, travelling up and down to Khao Lak and Takuapa, I was twelve feet away from him. I’d been reading his book, watching him on YouTube, boring Kirsten by continuously asking her what she thought Ewan was doing in Khao Lak ‘right this very minute’, and right this very minute, he was within spitting distance of me, not that I wanted to spit at him, far from it. After miles of to-ing and fro-ing, fiddling and faffing, I had as good as bumped into him. I was two tables away from my mentor, my father-figure, my new best friend, my…my definition.
His trademark spikey hair was flat and parted to one side. He was covered in mud with cuts on his arms and cheekbones, looking as if he had come off his motorbike on the way to the set. His cuts didn’t look ridiculous or ugly like so many of the extras, and he hadn’t been given any ‘Carry On’ bandages. He had rugged, adversity, narrative wounds.
He was two tables away from me in the same tent, eating the same food. My stomach gurgled with excitement. He really existed outside of the cinema, outside of the realms of my imagination. Someone famous was nearby. I felt as if he should have been given a roll of drums, a blast of trumpets when he had arrived, instead of grabbing himself a plate and plonking himself down next to the others. How superduper cool of him to be in the trenches, without security or a Mace Pepper Gun, sitting amongst the rabble, having his dinner. There were no airs and graces to this man. He had travelled through all kinds of hell holes and dirt tracks on his motorbike so was bound to be like this. I was dumbstruck. I had become a Ewanologist and, even though he didn’t know me from young Adam, I felt as if he should look over and acknowledge me, somehow know all about my dreams.
The other actor was blocking my view which was frustrating. It was as if someone had set the camera up in the wrong place. I tried my best to be subtle and sneak a peak. Ewan’s face looked too big for his body, or maybe that was how it felt to me in this state of shock. Was that the secret to movie success? Your main acting tool needed to be slightly bigger so that you could work the forehead and flex the jaw muscles when emoting for a close-up. He had no jowels, no double-chin, no scars, no blemishes and no confusion. He was full of cinematic focus as he listened to a make-up artist, without really blinking, maintaining sincere eye-contact. There was his familiar nose (almost as big as mine) and there was his ‘life-is-more-than-artifice’ frown. At times, he gave his strange Ewan smile with the teeth clenched, like a man preparing for a dental X-Ray. Were those ivories real? Could a Scotsman have such pearly whites? I was gazing at him like a schoolgirl but fame was a powerful thing. There were few of us who were not affected by it when it came up close.
I remember rushing onto a tube train at Embankment and sitting down. A bear sized man with thick legs sat next to me. As we went through a tunnel and the inside was reflected back at me, I realized it was Terry Waite. Here was an important figure from politics, a man that had survived being a hostage and he was sat right next to me. I didn’t pluck up the courage to speak to him before he got off at Westminster. This encounter was both meaningful and meaningless. I had that sense of getting close to something significant but not actually being anywhere near it. Did nutters assassinate famous people in the hope of stealing some of their space in history?
Enough of all that, Ewan McGregor was right there, as far away as you are now. I was so excited I had to share it with someone. I didn’t want to tell any of the other extras in case they galloped over for a gorp and caused a scene. I didn’t want to ring Kirsten and holler, ‘Guess who’s here, love?’ so, instead, texted her saying, ‘ewan is 2 tables away in the canteen’. She replied, ‘Oh wow! Don’t hassle him yet! Any news if U feat extra?’ I texted, ‘still waiting I think I might wet myself’. She replied, ‘tie a knot in it!’
Should I go up to him? Should I run to the bag tent and get my script? Should I just do it? No, I needed to wait because if I made it through as a featured extra and got introduced to him, it would look peculiar that I had already approached him. I suddenly felt self-conscious. If I made it through as a featured extra, he might wonder what I had been doing earlier in the evening sitting on my own staring at him. I looked around the catering area and realized most of the other people wore belts that carried Mag-Lites and tools. Oh shit.
This was not an overspill tent for extras. This was for crew only and I shouldn’t be sat here slurping my coke. Of course, that was why the food and lighting was better. By Christ, they’d march me off set if I wasn’t careful. I slipped off before anyone noticed. There were no small parts, only shit catering.
END OF SAMPLE
'The Wrong Way Round to Ewan McGregor' is available as a paperback and ebook on: