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Ewan McGregor Gained — And Then Lost — a Substantial Amount of Weight to Play Two Brothers on Fargo

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Ewan McGregor as Emmit (left) and Ray
FX (2)

While Ewan McGregor was up for the challenge of playing two different brothers on the new season of Fargo, he assumed he would be using prosthetics to portray Ray, the overweight, down-on-his-luck brother — but showrunner Noah Hawley had a different idea.

Yesterday’s season premiere included a scene in which Ray emerges from a bathtub and to pull it off, Hawley asked McGregor, 46, to put on a few pounds.

“It wouldn’t make sense for me to wear padding and not be fat when I got out of the bath, so when I got out of the bath, I was properly overweight for me,”  McGregor told reporters on a press call, Vanity Fair reports.

McGregor found the transformation to be emotional as well as physical, but says he enjoyed having extra dessert once he was instructed to gain weight.

“I ordered a massive dessert and started putting on weight from that second onward,” said McGregor. “It’s quite nice when you’re ordering — you can order whatever you like. But the truth is I would go to bed every night not feeling very great. I’m a small guy. I’m not really used to carrying weight. It doesn’t make you feel great. I like to feel fit and healthy. But it was effective. It worked.”

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To portray the other brother Emmit, McGregor says Spanx not only helped him look trimmer despite his weight gain, but helped him to get into character as the more self-confident brother.

“The Spanx makes me hold my body in a different way, because it’s tight and keeps me more upright, I suppose,” he said.

Because Ray is only nude in the first episode, McGregor began losing weight again to get back down to his original weight as filming continued. (He used prosthetics and padding to play Ray in non-nude scenes.) The actor then began looking gaunt from the rapid weight loss, but McGregor felt this helped him to portray Emmit.

“The fact that he gets more gaunt-looking in his face has been quite useful for the story,” he said. “It’s worked out quite nicely.”