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We’re used to actors describing their “process,” those complicated, often superstitious methods they use to get into character and stay there. It takes a rather surreal turn, however, when the character in question is a singing French candlestick.

That’s what Ewan McGregor plays in the live-action Beauty and the Beast, which finally opens in theaters on Friday after what feels like a lengthy promotional build-up.

Ewan was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night (March 13), where he described his preparation for the role of Lumiere — or the distinct lack of it. Not only that, but he admitted he’d never even seen the original cartoon before agreeing to star in the reboot. “The funny thing about it was I just sort of swanned into it, without much thought,” he told host Stephen Colbert, “which is a mistake as it turned out.”

Just how much of a mistake quickly became clear. At the time he’d believed he could do a reasonable French accent, thanks to the small matter of being married to a French woman for over 20 years, but that’s not how it worked out.

“It didn’t sound very French,” Ewan said of the first time he attempted the accent, before admitting his Lumiere was almost a very different type of character from the original cartoon version indeed. “It was a bit south of the border — south of the American border.” It’s obviously an issue that’s been weighing on his mind for a while — it’s not the first time the actor has discussed his nerves over taking on the role. Here he is on The Graham Norton Show doing just that.

Anyway, if you’re wondering what a Mexican candlestick sounds like, this brief snippet at 00:52 of the original trailer might give you some indication:

Beauty and the Beast is not the only film of Ewan’s that opens on Friday. There’s also Trainspotting 2 — or T2, as it’s rather snappily known — which sees him reprise the role of Renton from the 1996 cult film, whose close-shaven buzzcut he was once again sporting.

Luckily, Renton’s accent came much more naturally — as Ewan demonstrated on The Late Show with a few choice Scottish phrases:

Which movie of Ewan’s are you most looking forward to this week? BATB, or T2?

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.