Ewan McGregor in ‘The Impossible’

Eye on the Oscars: The Actor - Supporting Actor Contender

Ewan McGregor has vague recollections, mostly of images from newscasts, of the deadly tsunami that struck southeast Asia nearly eight years ago and was perplexed anyone would write a script about it.

“I wondered what the relevance was, I suppose,” he says. “When I read it, though, I was so taken by the brutal honesty of the script, how sparsely written it was, how effective it was and how much it touched me.”

In “The Impossible,” based on the story of an English vacationing family of five washed inland by a surprise tsunami the day after Christmas, McGregor plays the father. As a real-life dad of four girls, McGregor could only imagine what it was like to see your entire family swept away.

“I think that one of the reasons I wanted to take this role is because I’ve never fully explored parenthood,” he says. “It’s something I’ve known about for 16 years but I’ve never explored it in any of my work.”

He didn’t want to tap into the thoughts of his own children to help prepare for the part, thinking that would be unfair to his kids in asking them to try and understand how to deal with such a horrific tragedy.

“It was too awful to think about and something would feel wrong about that,” he says.

Instead, he drew on his affection for his newly created film family to prepare for the role.

“That’s the best kind of acting experience for me anyway,” he says. “If you’re actually able to use what’s there.”

Recalling the authenticity of the production, McGregor says he was moved by the quite realistic sets and on-location filming of where the tsunami struck. Also, many of the survivors were constantly on set and serving as extras.