We've had a soft spot for Ewan McGregor, the sandy-haired Scot with a smile that could power Edinburgh Airport, ever since he played a smack addict in 1996's Trainspotting. A master of the quirky-smart indie with a pleasing tendency to drop trou on film, he makes us swoon whether he's aping Lou Reed in Velvet Goldmine or crooning "Your Song" in Moulin Rouge! (Just YouTube it and see if you don't sigh.) But when he opts for big-budget schlock — like the turgid Star Wars prequels — we feel spurned. Why the schizophrenic oeuvre?

"You know, darling, I'm not trying to create a career," McGregor tells us in his boyish brogue. "I pick stories I like, ones that touch me." Which explains the motorcycle enthusiast's man-fantasy road-trip docs on the BBC. "It's just fantastic to go out and meet people in the world and get to really remote places," he says.

But now the London-based actor — a married, devoted father of three — is rolling out four new flicks, which suggests a certain … career consciousness. In this month's Angels & Demons, the sequel to The DaVinci Code, he plays a pope so good-looking, he could get a lapsed Catholic back on her knees. "The script was a page-turner, a real thriller," he says. Then there's I Love You Phillip Morris, a gay rom-com for which he "made out several times a day" with Jim Carrey; Amelia, an Earhart biopic; and Men Who Stare at Goats, costarring A-list ambassador George Clooney. So is McGregor finally gunning for superstardom? "It isn't a strategy," he insists. "I just felt it was time to make my mark." Consider our seat belts fastened.

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