Ewan McGregor did not take the task of playing Halston lightly. In recent interviews with the Hollywood Reporter and the New York Times, McGregor shared all the ways he prepared to play the iconic designer the five-part series from Ryan Murphy, out now on Netflix.
The Scottish actor sat in on pitch meetings and studied footage of the designer, who was known to always have camera crews around, filming everything he did for his own personal archives. McGregor binged Project Runway, and told The Hollywood Reporter that he helped director Dan Minahan pitch the show to networks and streaming companies before they landed on Ryan Murphy and Netflix.
He even met with Liza Minnelli–one of Halston's closest confidants. “I wanted her to know it wasn’t going to be some hatchet job,” McGregor told the Hollywood Reporter.
The Scottish actor went so far as to pair up with the show's costume designer, Jeriana San Juan, to learn how to sew. Halston was famous for cutting and sewing garments while his models were wearing them and for designing complicated patterns consisting of one continuous piece of fabric. San Juan, who has costumed shows like The Sinner, Gossip Girl, and Saturday Night Live, helped McGregor learn to cut, pin, drape, and sew.
Director Dan Minahan told the Hollywood Reporter, “When you see him make the dresses in the show, he’s literally cutting the fabric, pinning it, and making it.”
“I was always upset that I didn't have his hands,” McGregor told the New York Times. “He's got beautiful, long, elegant fingers, and I don't. When I'm doing the scenes where I'm pinning and draping, I was slightly upset that I wasn't able to act his hands.”
While undeniably committed to the role, not everything McGregor does as Halston is exactly as it seems. Halston was an avid cigarette smoker. McGregor substituted “horrible” green tea cigarettes for the originals. “The part of me that's a smoker thought, OK, great, I can smoke again while I play Halston,” he told the Times.
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