Here’s Ewan!

Warn­er Bros.

Ewan McGre­gor revis­its the hor­rors of The Shin­ing’s infa­mous Over­look Hotel in Doc­tor Sleep, play­ing Dan­ny Tor­rance in an adap­ta­tion of Stephen King’s 2013 sequel nov­el. The psy­chic boy from The Shin­ing is all grown up in this movie. Off screen, McGre­gor recalls a spine-chill­ing King moment of his own from his first year at dra­ma school.

Dan­ny Tor­rance con­fronts his past in Doc­tor Sleep.

Warn­er Bros.

Shar­ing a room at a Lon­don YMCA in the late ’80s, the Scot­tish actor was read­ing Chris­tine, which tells the tale of a pos­sessed car.

“I could­n’t put it down. You know, like a lot of Stephen King’s books,” he told me over the phone from LA. “And at 4 in the morn­ing, I was still read­ing away. I was at a very scary bit and my friend Richard, who was asleep with his back to me said, ‘Ewan, are you OK?’ ”

McGre­gor appar­ent­ly “jumped out of his skin” and said he was fine, but Richard claimed to be get­ting “very strange vibes” from McGre­gor’s side of the room. When asked about it the fol­low­ing morn­ing, McGre­gor’s friend did­n’t have a clue what his room­mate was talk­ing about.

“So he was sleep-talk­ing to me — maybe he picked up on my ner­vous ener­gy from Stephen’s writ­ing,” McGre­gor said. 

Hav­ing immersed him­self direct­ly in King’s world for his role in Doc­tor Sleep, it’s the metaphor and sub­text lac­ing the author’s work that McGre­gor loves now.

“I feel like he wrote The Shin­ing nov­el very much about addic­tion and alco­holism. Both from the point of view of alco­holic Jack Tor­rance and also the point of view of the alco­holic’s child, with Dan­ny,” he not­ed.

King revis­it­ed those themes in Doc­tor Sleep, which McGre­gor not­ed “is very much a book about recov­ery and sobri­ety.” Dan­ny ini­tial­ly deals with the trau­ma of his child­hood with a pos­sessed, mur­der­ous father at the Over­look by con­sum­ing alco­hol — mir­ror­ing his dad’s addic­tion. It’s sub­text the actor could relate to on a very per­son­al lev­el, hav­ing giv­en up drink­ing in 2000.

“I’ve lived a sober life for many, many years after hav­ing my own tor­ments with alco­hol when I was younger,” said the actor  “And that’s why I was so keen to play him.” 

I felt that it was impor­tant that we real­ly show his rock bot­tom, that we real­ly show how lost he is.

The actor was “adamant” that direc­tor Mike Flana­gan’s movie adap­ta­tion explore this ele­ment of the char­ac­ter.

“I felt that it was impor­tant that we real­ly show his rock bot­tom, that we real­ly show how lost he is,” McGre­gor said. “These things do go down through fam­i­lies and they pass on and on and on — it’s a ter­ri­ble dis­ease, addic­tion like this.”

Direc­tor Mike Flana­gan works with actor Kyliegh Cur­ran on the Doc­tor Sleep set, as her cast­mate Zackary Momoh looks on.

Warn­er Bros.

Addic­tion isn’t the only demon Dan­ny faces in the visu­al­ly stun­ning Doc­tor Sleep. He needs to help teenage psy­chic Abra Stone (Kyliegh Cur­ran) con­front a ter­ri­fy­ing group of cultists who kill peo­ple like them to pro­long their lives. That quest takes them back to the place where it all began — the Over­look Hotel from The Shin­ing. 

“So he has so much on his plate, this poor boy Dan­ny, and I felt like ulti­mate­ly the only way he can try and live with any of it is to numb it away,” McGre­gor said. 

“I think that’s real­ly what alco­holism is —  a desire to not feel and not think because you haven’t got the courage to con­front these things yet. Or maybe not the courage, but maybe you haven’t got the tools.” 

McGre­gor walks the halls of the Over­look.

Warn­er Bros.

McGre­gor said being back on the icon­ic Over­look Hotel set was “just chill­ing.”

“It felt a lit­tle bit like Jack Nichol­son had just gone to his trail­er for a minute and could be back at any moment. It just felt so real; the type­writer was there on the table, the chair was knocked over, the stair­case in front of us, the fire­place where he threw the ball against the wall,” he said. “It was like being in The Shin­ing.”

Movie­go­ers will next see McGre­gor as the vil­lain in the DC Comics adap­ta­tion Birds of Prey, where he’ll play crime boss Black Mask and face off against a female superteam led by Mar­got Rob­bie’s Harley Quinn. In Jan­u­ary, the actor heads to New York to play fash­ion design­er Hal­ston in a six-part Net­flix biopic pro­duced by Amer­i­can Hor­ror Sto­ry’s Ryan Mur­phy.

Now play­ing: Watch this: What’s new to stream in Novem­ber 2019 2:42

In the sec­ond half of 2020, he’ll return to the role of Obi-Wan Keno­bi, which he played in the Star Wars pre­quels, to shoot the unnamed Dis­ney Plus show focused on the char­ac­ter. Con­ve­nient­ly enough, he’s been sport­ing some facial hair wor­thy of the Jedi mas­ter as he pro­motes Doc­tor Sleep.

“Well, the beard is here for just lazi­ness’ sake, but it’ll have to come off for Hal­ston and I’ll have to regrow it again after­wards,” he told me. “But I’m doing a prac­tice run.”

2019 movies to geek out over 77 Pho­tos

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished Nov. 8. 

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